The 2014 shooting season closed out with a bang last weekend with the most anticipated event of the year – the inaugural Brownell’s Lady 3-Gun ProAm Challenge in Covington, GA. After months of pent-up excitement, 164 mothers, wives, daughters, girlfriends, and all the single ladies (right, Beyonce?) converged on Georgia to try their hand at something new . . .
Experienced professionals shot alongside first-time 3-gunners. Shooters of other sports crossed over into the 3-gun world to give it a try. There were no cat fights and no tears, except for the laughter-induced kind. There were hugs and Halloween costumes and banquets. It was a 3-day slumber party in our gun belts, and there were no boys allowed!
The vortex of excitement, estrogen, and gunpowder was enough to drive away the late October warmth and brought a gusty cold snap to Georgia, leaving shooters shivering on the final day of competition. I told one range officer it was because hell froze over when that many women all got together and had FUN without any drama. Truly, an historic moment!
But really, it was historic – and not just because we all got along. The match was the first-ever women’s only 3-gun event, and women of all ages and from all walks of life came out to be a part of history.
It was also historic in the amount of sponsor support allocated specifically for women competitors. The prize table had over $270,000 worth of merchandise on it – all for women. The top pro (Lena Miculek) received a $5,000 check courtesy of Benelli. The top amateur (Ashely Rheuark) received an STI pistol, a Benelli shotgun, and an ArmaLite rifle. The last place competitor (little Shyanne Roberts) received a rifle for what has been dubbed the “Tough as Nails” award for her persistence throughout the match. Following the event, Facebook was plastered with a cascade of happy competitors showing off their new rifles, pistols, shotguns, scopes, gift cards, and other goodies.
I think this match was also historic for the amount of color that was at the range! Walk around your average 3-gun competition and you will see a slew of black and desert tan guns being shot by dudes in black, blue, and gray jerseys. But Lady 3-Gun was a refreshing rainbow of color! Black rifles were decked out with red hand guards; shotguns were painted zombie green; mag pouches were pink; jerseys were purple; and my personal favorite, one rifle even had a penguin etched into the lower. The gear at this event was as bright as the smiles on the ladies’ faces.
For me, the most rewarding part about the event wasn’t my 6th place finish. It was the opportunity to share the sport I love with so many new ladies and be able to coach them through their first event. I watched their faces transform from pre-stage freakout to enormous smiles after shooting their first stage. From being totally lost on stage 1 to discussing the merits of different shooting plans on stage 8, they transformed from timid to confident. It was incredibly rewarding to see these ladies fall in love right before my eyes, because I know they will be back. And they will bring their friends, and my little 3-gun family will continue to grow!
After this event I’m truly pumped about the future of 3-gun. I’m excited at the growing interest from women, and how we will shape the industry as we demand new products that are truly designed by women, for women, and meet our needs for size, shape, and functionality.
But I’m also excited about the future of America. Too many times (ok, like all the time anymore), gun owners in America are portrayed in a negative light. Instead, this event represented a very positive example of how gun ownership can be safe, fun, and educational. It was the right to bear arms being exercised not in an in-your-face-kitted-up-in-your-Starbucks way, but rather in a strong-and-confident-is-sexy-and-altogether-nonthreatening sort of way.
To the sponsors who supported the event, the women of 3-gun extend our deepest gratitude. To the industry members who passed up the opportunity to support, you missed out on history. To the ladies who didn’t come, we invite you to play with us next year. And to America, we are girls (gun wild!), and we are gonna save the 2nd Amendment. You just watch.
This article also appeared on Unapologetically American. For photos of the event, visit www.facebook.com/asartisticphoto, www.facebook.com/beckyyackleyphotos, or www.facebook.com/karlaherdzikshooting.