HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A former local law enforcement officer created a gun club that educates women on ways to protect themselves while also focusing on the importance of representation within the shooting community.

Toni Hart is a former Polk County law enforcement officer.

“I knew public service was for me,” Hart said. “Being able to protect the community while also working with the children was incredible.”

Though whether it was in her profession or while she went to the gun range, she kept noticing something.

“When I would go to the gun ranges or go to gun shows I wouldn’t necessarily see anyone who looked like me,” Hart said.

It truly dawned on her when she took her daughters to the gun range.

“We were the only three women there and it was at that moment it clicked, black girls shoot,” she said.

Hart created Black Girls Shoot on June 19, also known as Juneteenth, in 2020. It’s a gun club aimed at educating and empowering women to protect themselves.

“I grew up in a time where it’s all about the fairytale and prince charming will save you, but that’s not true, you have to be prepared to take care to save yourself and loved ones,” Hart said. “The police have a duty to protect the public in general, they don’t have the duty to protect you 24/7, so until you can get law enforcement you have to be able to protect yourself.”

She also wants to ensure there’s representation within the shooting community.

“I feel like Black Girls Shoot is letting women know this is for us, it’s being taught by women like you and you’re welcome here,” Hart said.

The group isn’t just for Black women. Hart said she wants it’s a space where everyone is welcome.

Members can learn more about different firearms, how to safely load, shoot, unload and store the gun. Hart also teaches different practical procedures, gun laws and more.

She is a certified instructor, former law enforcement officer and insured.

Black Girls Shoot meets monthly at the Gun Craft Outdoor Shooting Range in Ruskin. Hart also hosts two free seminars a month on the first and third Wednesdays. Click this link for more information on how to sign up.