This morning’s surfing uncovered a rogue wave. Writing for pittsburghlive.com, columnist Eric Heyl ranted about the lack of women at NRA conventions (this year’s confab is set to hit his hometown). Yada yada yada sexist NRA. And then Heyl ends his piece with the most sexist garbage I’ve read in many a moon. “The industry is unlikely to successfully tap that market until it conquers the pesky preconceived notions that likely turn off many females to the idea of gun ownership. Women likely won’t consider packing pistols if they are concerned that:

— Spending several hundred dollars on a serviceable handgun might leave them without enough money to get the full treatment at that next visit to the day spa.

— Carrying a gun in a small purse would leave less room for more important items, such as lipstick or compact.

— The baggy clothing required to successfully conceal most holsters would make them appear frumpy.

— Gunpowder residue might stain the new Karen Scott blouse they just bought at Macy’s.

— The gunpowder smell when the weapon is fired could totally overwhelm the Chanel they’re wearing.

— Most firearm accessories come only in one boring color: black.

— Target practice earplugs simply aren’t sexy.

Tell me he’s being ironic. And while you’re at it, tell me what’s stopping women from taking up the shooting arts in the same numbers as males of the species. Testosterone?And how we can get more women into shooting. My local range offers “ladies nights” with free admission. The various women-oriented firearms websites make me vaguely nauseous. Surely we can do better than that.

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38 Responses to Question of the Day: How Do We Get More Women Into Shooting?

  1. How Do You Get More Women Into Guns?
    A really big gun, a tiny woman and Vaseline… That should do it.

  2. Seriously, it’s a great question. My wife really wants to feel comfortable shooting a gun, but the intimidation factor keeps it from being enjoyable. I need to get something with less “bang” to build her confidence. Other ideas?

    • How about a shooting contest inside the house with airgun, NERF or something similar? Build her confidence. Lure her in.

      • House full of NERF guns, lots of wars with the wife and kiddies – and I usually end up getting shot in the eye at least once. It’s the kaboom that rattles her cage… (no, not the NERF kaboom)

    • In the last year, I have retaken my wife back to the range, and my future daughter in law for her first and second times. I started with my 22LR Sig to get them used to the trigger pull and the minor recoil and bang, plus I only put one round in the mag until I was satisfied they weren’t going to get spooked, then as they progressed, they moved up to my different 9MM’s. Both are excellent shots (actually better than I), and want to go back, which we will do soon. I have seen many men (whether boy friend or spouse) start off with large caliber firearms which intimidate our better half’s, or laugh when they get startled, not good! Start slow guys, start slow.

  3. The various women-oriented firearms websites make me vaguely nauseous.

    Are you including http://www.CorneredCat.com? That is my favorite source of shooting/carrying info. I don’t even mind that it’s colored pink – my least favorite color.

    • +1 for The Cornered Cat. Excellent information, written extremely competently, and delivered in a pretty pink package!

      I’ve referred many friends there.

      OT, but in response to AC, Pink happens to be one of my favorite colors .. but it probably has something to do with the lack of color experienced during my college days at military school..

    • This is Patrick’s wife…I am pretty sure the chocolate gunpowder WILL work! lol! I will add that most women think of guns as a means to protect. There is the fear that should one of us bring out a gun in a dangerous situation, would we have the confidence to pull the trigger AND NOT get overpowered and have it used against us. Ironically, that fear is large enough to deter any involvement with the guns anyway. As for a fun, “hey babe, let’s go the range and shoot shit…”. Most of us can think of more fun things to do than fire a big ole heavy hunk of metal at a piece of paper as it makes a LOUD angry sound putting all of those fears back in your head about the what ifs. Just saying… 🙂

  4. Holy crap, is that an extended magazine she’s using in that pic? Doesn’t she know they’re only good for ONE THING? If getting more women into shooting means chicks running around with assault clips, then no thank you.

  5. Women likely won’t consider packing pistols if they are concerned that:

    Sadly the list is true (at least in part) of hundreds of women I’ve met. The vast majority of women I’ve met are far more concerned about makeup or fashion than they are with their security. Most men are much more concerned about sports or cars. We live in a superficial nation.

    To get women into shooting, there are two main things.

    One is fashion – witness the rise of pink guns. I’ve read quite a few women whose first interest in firearms was sparked by the sight of a pink gun. Once guns are available in a wide range of colors and patterns they will be much more popular amongst many women. Once firearms become fashion accessories you’ll see women buying them in droves. Sad, but that’s the country we live in.

    The other is design/function. As more guns are designed to fit and function for women they will sell.

    I think fashion is more important.

    • Well, I have to admit that I think this might be true. Just last Saturday, I (as a fellow customer) was talking to a lady at the gun shop that already had a little .25 and was wondering if it was enough to do the job. She pointed at a .38 S&W with pink grips in the case (among dozens & dozens of handguns) and said, “I think that I might need something more like this.”

      Now, this lady had previously been a victim of an armed robbery, and then later had someone try to break into her home while she was inside. So, I told her, hey, just a few weeks ago in Florida a little bitty gal took a snubnose version of that same revolver and shot a home invader at 3am in the morning, saving her & her fiance’s life.

      So, if a pink bunny can beat a drum and sell a bazillion batteries, then a pink revolver can be “the great equalizer” for women, in my view at least.

  6. This seems really easy. Take your wife, or girlfriend or daughter or mother shooting, if they want to go.
    1. Make early success easily attainable (Short range, large target)
    2. Don’t talk down to them
    3. Let them use something they are comfortable with, even if you have to start with a bb gun.
    4. Don’t talk down to them
    5. When what you are shooting begins to go bang, use good ear protection (should be obvious, my wife doesn’t like loud noises)
    6. Don’t talk down to them
    7. Answer questions that have obvious answers (to you) patiently, and don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know.’
    8. Don’t talk down to them

  7. Delve deep into their inner circle and the answer lies within. How do women get involved in shooting is being around other women who shoot. Figure out a way to get your woman around women who shoot. They are relational by nature and are more apt to take it up because another woman, maybe a friend or yoga partner – who knows… That is not a knock, typically – unless they have been mugged/raped/robbed, the logic of self-defense might elude them. Men look at it differently, the man, hunter, gatherer, protector, etc… Women need the relational aspect of shooting – and not just with their husband… just my $.02, YMMV…

  8. They are relational by nature and are more apt to take it up because another woman, maybe a friend or yoga partner – who knows… That is not a knock, typically – unless they have been mugged/raped/robbed, the logic of self-defense might elude them. Men look at it differently, the man, hunter, gatherer, protector, etc…

    Actually, you may be on to something here. Shooting is by it’s very nature an individual sport. Yes, there are team competitions, but in the end, there is little to no team shooting events (Sportsman’s Team Challenge being one of the exceptions).

    Women, (again, generalizing HORRIBLY here, feel free to castigate me as a sexist pig, chances are, my wife would agree with you…) tend to enjoy doing activities in groups more than men do. Babes with Bullets and Becoming an Outdoors Woman are two great steps in that direction, but more is needed.

    Another thing would be to re-normalize the shooting sports as an activity for men, and let that carry over into women’s sports. Not too long ago, golf was thought to be just for the rich and powerful, now it’s (almost) an everyman’s sport. We need to make going to the range as normal of an activity as a pickup game of hoops or a short game of tennis. Golf and tennis are now everyday women’s sports because they’re everyday men’s sports as well.

  9. My wife is from Nothern Wisconsin and was always around guns. My best friend grew up on a horse farm riding and shooting. She also had some quality spook time. Another friend in the office is a Army Colonel from Texas and has always liked guns. Girls with guns are out there.

  10. How do we get more women into shooting?

    Start with getting a lot of hot guys into shooting (not just OFWGs). And then free ammo every Ladies Night. And maybe dancing after. And spa days.

    Happy to help.

    • Well if I have to take one for the team, me being a young, attractive, in O.K. (working toward great) shape guy, to get women shooting, I guess I’ll knuckle down and do it.

  11. “Women Only” events are key. All the ladies only classes at our range fill up as soon as they are scheduled. Once most of the ladies have fired that first round and see that nothing bad happens, they can’t wait to do it again.

    Our Ladies Handgun League membership has grown from 11 to 46 in eight months. The league membership includes 5 NRA certified instructors and 85% of members are CCH permit holders who carry daily.

    To the point, the numbers of women shooters are growing.

    • mamamk, I see women shooters at my range all the time, but only with boyfriends, husbands or whatnot. Are the women concerned about going to the range without a guy along? Or are they just not that into it? Enquiring minds . . . . Next time I’m at my range, I’ll do a couple of interviews if I can.

  12. My wife does not like going to the range with me, but loves to go with a female friend. For them it is a social event, whereas I go to practice my speed and accuracy. I may use a shot timer and practice dot torture. They shoot zombie targets and chat between magazines. For them it works.

  13. Interesting question. Personally, because of the league and WOT events, I shoot with other women alot. It’s a treat for me to go to the range with my husband. We enjoy shooting together.

  14. Another good idea is to start them out with something small. Firing a 3″ .357 for your first time shooting may not make for the most enjoyable experience. I’d advise starting out with a .22 pistol from 5 or even 3 yards until they are comfortable handling the firearm and then step up from there. This is actually required at the S&W range in Springfield (at which I believe an ar-15 recently “exploded”, injuring two East Longmeadow police officers.); if you haven’t fired a handgun before, you have to start off with a .22 (male or female).

    My fiancée and I both recently started shooting. I went with a friend who recently returned from the USCG and had a Glock 26. After that I took my fiancée and my Dad to the S&W range, and since then she has loved it and we’ve been down to AFS several times (and she fell in love with a 1911).

    I definitely concur with “Don’t talk down to her,” but then again that should go without saying in any situation. Humility is also helpful. When I limp-wristed a p226 and the slide wouldn’t fully return to battery,it made her feel much more comfortable making mistakes like that. Luckily Eddie helped us both out by fixing our grips (and changing the recoil spring on the 226).

    -Patrick

  15. I go to the range two to three times a month, often bringing friends who have never shot before.

    This exchange has made me realize that it is very much a social/bonding exercise with me, whiter I am with my husband or friends. Odd, considering I am usually doubled up with ear protection.

    • “whether” – mobile connection hiccup, my apologies. I was hoping to have the 15-minute edit window available when I logged on.

  16. Great question. This is something I’ve thought about quite a bit as women represent the future of shooting and possibly a continued vibrant 2nd Amendment.

    Having instructed women only pistol classes and having instructed at NRA’s Women’s Wilderness Escape twice, here are my impressions;
    1) Women see this as a men’s club and, for the most part, it is. I don’t know about where you guys live but most ranges around me are dumps and not female friendly at all.
    2) Women like to take their time and really understand what is going on rather than just go to the range and start blasting. How many dopey video’s have we seen where some guy puts a big gun in his g/f’s hands and then posts the video of the gun hitting her in the head. Do you think she will be coming back to the range any time soon?

    We need to be a little smarter about this and make the range a more inviting place.

  17. when i was finealy able to get my wife to try shooting , she asked why was all the range bags that where for sale where eather black/brown/ or cammo. no pink or other girl colors. girls are girls they want the color or there range bag to mach there shoes

  18. I took my grown daughter to a gun training course. When we got home, she said, how come you never told me how much fun this was. She continued to take training and is now a very good shot.

    My wife was already interested in shooting when we met. My engagement present to her was a Ruger GP100 revolver. We go shooting regularly at a local gun club.

  19. Trying to teach your own wife or girlfriend to shoot is right up there with teaching them to ride a motorcycle. Until they are competent on their own unless you are an exceptional teacher it’s better (for domestic peace and harmony) to stand back and have someone else take the heat. When You tell her this is the way it works and you have to do this or that, she is going to remember the last time you tried to fix the lawn mower and think “yeah, right”. Has there ever been a wife that calmly accepted anything her husband had to say?

    After she is doing OK, inviting one or more of her female friends or relatives really does make it more fun for her but plan on doing most of your own shooting another time, you are going to be busy stuffing magazines.

  20. A few things might help…

    1. Gunshop employees need to stop talking down to their women customers. My wife calls it “Little Lady Syndrome.” A woman walks in an instantly gets shown to the J-frame revolver because it’s “simple.” Might as well pat her on the head and say “Just leave all these complicated adult guns to the men.”

    2- The industry needs to stop giving the choice of only black or pink. Pink may work for some women, but there are a whole lot of women who consider it another ridiculous attempt by men who don’t have the first clue about women.

    3- The industry needs to start considering that 50% of the population (and voters) are women, and that there is a HUGE untapped market. Once they understand that, they then need to start making a decent women’s HOLSTER. Women are NOT built like men, and someone, for the love of all that’s holy, needs to start addressing that as more than an after thought.

    4- All husbands, boyfriends, dads, uncles, brothers and male significant others need to stop trying to teach the women in their lives to shoot! As stated above, send them to an impartial 3rd party – and do it quick before you create another woman who hates going to the range.

    5- Quit emailing Youtube videos of women being hurt by recoil to everyone. It’s not funny, and it’s one of the reasons behind point #4.

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