Proudly brandishing a target she had riddled with bullets, 62-year-old Sharon Schaefer could not hide her delight at joining America’s growing number of gun-toting women.

“It was fun!” she exclaimed breathlessly, much to the approval of her instructor Teresa Ovalle.

“You did a good job, Sharon,” said the former Marine, who had just given the senior citizen a crash course in pistols at the Fredericksburg Range, some 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of the US capital.

On Thursday evenings the range has a pink theme — the color of T-shirts and logos worn by the members of the Pistol Packing Ladies.