By Christy S.
There’s a lot being said these days about the dramatic climb in the number of female gun owners in the US. Women’s groups are popping up everywhere. The internet is full of female-focused gun/training articles. Local network news is picking up stories about all female classes or women’s day at the range. It’s something of interest to most men out there, especially those who have been trying to get their wife or girlfriend to the range without success. Right about now, I can imagine some of you doing the V-8 face-palm and exclaiming: “Why can’t I get MY gal out to the range?!” While some ladies simply lack any desire whatsoever to get anywhere near a firearm, there are many out there who simply don’t respond because the approach is all wrong. I’m here to help . . .
There are lots of reasons you may want your gal to be gun-ready.
Some of ’em not so valid:
1. Because I want a new gun and maybe she won’t balk at the expense if she can enjoy it too.
2. I just want her to stop nagging me about how much time and $$$ I spend on my hobby.
3. I need another person in the house who knows how to clean a gun. I get a little woozy when I smell Hoppe’s No. 9.
4. I just want to be able to brag about my pistol-packin’ mama.
Some of ’em are very valid:
1. Because there’s a gun in the house and she should know how to handle it safely.
2. Because I want her to be able to protect herself at home / outside the home.
3. Because everyone should know safe gun-handling, regardless of whether they have a gun.
4. So we can spend some time together at the range/hunting.
Recommendation No. 1: Go with a valid reason and explain with sincerity, not pressure. We ladies love it when our men care about us and show genuine concern for our well-being. We also want to spend time with you even if it means participating in something we may not have otherwise had an interest in doing. However, if we feel like we are being coerced we tend to react in a very negative way.
If you’re successful with recommendation no. 1 and your lady has decided she’s ready, you’ll need to properly introduce your her to safe firearm handling.
What not to do:
1. Insist that you are the best there is and that she must learn from you if she wants to get it right.
2. Sign her up for a basic pistol class without discussing it with her first. Instructors just LOVE the no-shows.
3. Drag her down to the range and ask your gun-nerd friend to give her the run-down.
4. Drag her down to the range on its busiest day of the week, stick a 1911 in her palm, and give the command to shoot.
1. Find some helpful videos on the internet for beginning shooters. Be careful in your selection. There are some fantastic videos out there, but there are also some harmful ones.
2. Suggest that she find a friend who would be interested in learning with her and tell her where to find women’s/beginner courses in your area. If she doesn’t have an interested friend, you can still give her the list of suggested courses or the sites where she can find them.
3. Suggest that she find a friend and send her to some good female oriented sites to find local women only events.
4. Introduce her to another female shooter you know (preferably one with character and proper handling knowledge) and let them make arrangements to visit the range together.
Recommendation No. 2: You’re here to help, not to keep giving your lady the business about what she NEEDS to do. Giving her the information she needs to make the decision for herself will allow her to feel empowered in the choices she makes. She may not know where to start. That’s where you come in with the right stuff. Think about it….if you didn’t know how to drive a car, would you want to be taught by your wife/girlfriend?
If you’ve successfully accomplished your goal of getting your sweet to the range and she comes back with enthusiasm: by all means, encourage her and help her to remain interested.
How not to keep her interested:
1. Run to the nearest gun store and buy her the perfect carry gun. She’s going to need it!
2. Break out the 1911 and tell her that’s her goal ’cause there ain’t nothin’ finer.
3. Tell her how everything she learned in that class is so wrong. “Lemme show you something!”
4. Talk about guns 24/7, ’cause now she’s interested enough to listen.
How to be encouraging:
1. Listen as she explains what excited her or what was scary. Offer advice only when solicited.
2. Take her to a range that rents pistols so she can try them all (if so desired) until she finds the one that’s right for her.
3. Reinforce good behaviors at the range. Fill her in on range etiquette or safe-handling she may not have picked up in that class/outing.
4. Encourage her to take more classes.
Recommendation No. 3 (it’s a twofer): A. Give your lady some credit. Shooters don’t all have the same brain cells, hand shape/size, or coordination. The learning curve varies from person to person. There’s a good chance that if you’ve been shooting since you were knee-high to a grasshopper you have forgotten how long it actually took you to “get it”. Don’t assume that your sweetheart will instantly become expert marksman.
B. Provide support and help with research, but do not choose the firearm for her. No matter how much knowledge and experience you have, you don’t know what’s best for her. It is important to allow your woman to select her own firearm. Handguns are a VERY personal thing. It’s why you and that Glock guy are always having the debate. A carry gun is going to have more recoil than a full sized handgun and will NOT be pleasant to shoot. It is not the gun for a beginner. Besides, she just started shooting and she’s not ready to carry! Give her the information (not the spiel), let her make the decision.
So there you have it. I speak from personal experience as both a woman whose introduction to shooting is still fresh enough in her mind to remember the process (the Ruger LCR with +P ammo does not make for a good first outing) and as a firearms instructor (fellas, your wives get frustrated when you “teach” them). A little encouragement/support goes a long way. We ladies have a keen sense of what you’re up to. If you mean well and you are supportive without being pushy, we will respond.
Good luck, fellas!