Is there a good way to get women into firearms and are they really that into guns anyway? The short answers are: yes and no. After spending years in the firearm community and industry, I’ve learned a few more things about my gender and our (perceived) resistance to the presence of firearms in our society. Most things I can speak to as a result of my own experience; other things I’ve witnessed after owning and working in a gun store and indoor range since 2018. I will only provide insight based on my experience which is minimal in comparison to the amount of tools and knowledge available. Ask me this again in ten years from now.
From the perspective of an inexperienced and naive human, guns are indeed frightening. They are explosive, forceful, intense, cold pieces of steel. As we become desensitized to the impact a firearm makes on our senses, it is easy to forget how different the experience is for a beginner and how strange it can feel in a gun store or on a gun range. On an indoor range the experience intensifies dramatically and, with this in mind, the chance to make a lifelong case against firearms could increase tenfold if we are not attentive to the process. It’s an important learning process for all; the fear of or ignorance toward guns can lead to many lifelong misconceptions and quite possibly traumatic events.
Girls and women learn to appreciate firearms when they are provided education about the value of these remarkable tools and the proper training specific to their operation. Women are free to discover that gun ownership can enhance their personal and social lives. When speaking to a young lady who has no spouse or children of her own, a firearm is the ultimate tool in female empowerment. Not only does the possession and acquisition of a firearm lend to a woman’s increase in self confidence, a firearm hobby opens the doors to a new social scene and lifestyle. From gaining independence in the outdoors and becoming more self-reliant, to creating lifelong friendships at the range, I’ve watched women attain their gun license and move into purchasing their own firearms. It’s quite the moment to watch a gal blossom as she walks out of the gun store with her new purchase.
The potential new hobby must be approached with caution, of course, as it’s also my experience the “scary” part of firearms is something that needs some gentle guidance. My first experience with a gun could have ended tragically. My first experience with a shotgun was debilitating. I speak openly about these insightful moments when I’m teaching and anyone listening is usually left with a lasting impact and a different view. Often it helps to learn from another woman or a patient man who has lots of experience.
Through the mind of a wife and mother, the role and intent of firearms are often perceived a bit differently. I’ve learned of the ladies of the house who actively support their partner’s interests, which in some families includes hunting, collecting, target, or competition shooting. This naturally contributes to an environment where the youngest of our population gain a respect for firearms they might not receive with public education. On that note, gone are the days when children could learn these skills in the public school system where schools are hesitant to devote any meaningful teachings to firearms or firearm safety. I’ve also heard of the ladies who find it very difficult to support their partner if he does have an interest in the shooting sports – it leads to some tension and frustration and unfortunately I hear this more often than not.
Ultimately, this is connected to the question: are females really into guns? Does it come naturally? My initial answer is no even though some of us become hooked after the first trigger squeeze. For years I’ve experienced my own transformation and look to many influential women in the firearm industry. We are the ones who encourage other women to feel comfortable, as uncomfortable as getting out there and doing it might be. It’s not to say that girls aren’t into guns because I know many, including myself, who are loving their firearm hobby – but it’s not always top of mind like it is for men, especially as women are guided into softer more traditional roles where historically they perform well. On that note, and best left for another day of writing, I’ve personally discovered that shooting comes very naturally to so many women.
As much as I’d love to say ladies are coming to the range in droves, that’s simply not the case. After several years of offering range time and classes for women, the majority of women simply don’t turn to guns for fun. Firearms can make for an exciting date night with the husband or afternoon with the girls but it’s not a regular source of entertainment for most women. With that said, women are the fastest growing demographic in the shooting sports and we must continue to encourage this through adequate education and proper training as this inevitably leads a woman to the shooting sports arena.
After all is said and done, I helped my own mom gain an interest in firearms when I started my own journey down that road several years back. She was never into guns but quickly progressed to earning her restricted gun license (RPAL) and enjoys coming to the range to shoot a few rounds on occasion. While I doubt she’ll make any regular appearances on the range or look forward to glassing for big game, overall she is well aware of the value of a firearm and how they can contribute to a life well lived. Happy Mother’s Day to you, Mom! Thanks for always having my back, encouraging me to follow my heart, and letting me explore all the passion life has to offer.