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Getting Women Involved

Earlier this year, as I prepared for SHOT Show 2018 coverage, I asked some of my girlfriends who own firearms or are involved in the shooting sports what they were wanting to see this year from the show.  During our conversations, an unexpected theme emerged.  In addition to the same requests for better concealed carry options, and weapons/gear that are designed to better fit a woman’s anatomy, there was a more intangible concern: the social aspect of women in shooting.  Almost all of my friends wanted three things: to know more women like themselves, ideas on how to get more involved in shooting, and to feel more included in the shooting world.

There are enough women becoming involved in the shooting sports that the NSSF felt it necessary to do an extensive study on the female shooting demographic and the NRA now has an entire section (including a TV channel) dedicated to women’s interest.  Many manufacturers make specific models of rifles (like Savage and Weatherby), shotguns (such as Syren), and handguns (such as EAA) that have been designed specifically with a woman in mind.  These companies did not simply take an existing model and then apply the “Shrink It and Pink It” (SI-PI) cosmetic makeover.  There was actual thought put into these weapons to improve the shooting experience for women.  Firearm design is not the only part of the shooting world trying to play catch-up. There are now many concealed carry options that were designed specifically with a woman in mind, including more and more in off-body carry options.  Several companies have even tackled the gear portion by designing hunting clothes, law enforcement uniforms, and backpacks, to name just a few, to fit the female body better. While many women may not be happy with the available options, many more choices are coming to market every year.  Many companies are also open to suggestions for how to improve existing designs, but changes do not happen overnight.   Continue reading

Mandatory Gun Locks – Coming Soon To A State Near You?

GunLockFirearms safety is every gun owner’s job – from knowing the four rules of gun safety to enacting the Own It/Respect It/Secure It mantra of NSSF’s Project Childsafe. With many states eyeing legislation (no fewer than 15 states have proposed legislation in the past year and another dozen or so with it already on the books) to mimic California’s state gun lock law, a number of manufacturers are offering solutions intended to prevent unauthorized access to firearms. We had a chance to visit with a few of them at SHOT Show 2018.

Traditional Firearm Security

Before we get into the new stuff, let’s cover the way we have been locking up firearms for ages. There are, obviously, the traditional safes (or, more likely, residential security containers), locking cabinets, and handgun lockboxes that prevent access to anyone without a key, combination, or approved biometric ID such as a fingerprint.  While these options are often large and allow storage of multiple weapons, they can be pricey (although a few states subsidize the purchase of a gun safe with tax credits) and it can take extra time to reach and retrieve a weapon in the event of an emergency.   Continue reading

Franklin Armory’s Reformation – Brilliant End-Run or Spotlight on NFA Absurdity

GunLink-SHOT18_001Franklin Armory mystified the shooting community in the days leading up to SHOT Show 2018. Right around two weeks ahead of the show, the company – most well known for their binary triggers – issued a press release with photos of a weapon that, for all intents and purposes, appeared to be an NFA-regulated short barreled rifle (SBR).  However, Franklin claimed that the item shown was not a rifle (so, not an SBR) nor were they playing sneaky semantics games with a shotgun (and, thus, not an SBS).  Readers were left scratching their heads and trying to figure out how it might fit into the generic “firearm” category that might escape the purview of NFA regulations

Rumors swept the internet, along with speculation on how Franklin Armory had achieved this feat, if they had achieved it at all – many thought that the company was just trolling to generate buzz and that the new firearm, dubbed the Reformation, was just their 11.5″ SBR and that the entire campaign was a hoax.  Everyone loves a good puzzle, and the only clues in the initial release were that the Reformation sported an 11.5″ barrel, a Magpul SL stock (not a brace), that it used patented “NRS” technology, and that it required no NFA tax stamp.

Guesses at how this was done included things like the stock being pinned to make it unusable as a stock (instead, being capable of functioning only as a cheek rest), having a smooth bore (no rifling, no short-barreled rifle) – with or without guesses at special ammunition like a rifled shotgun slug, firing only on release (to skirt the definition of one round per trigger pull), and other theories.

This is not the first time that the designers at Franklin Armory were able to dance around BATFE definitions of certain classes of firearms (see the XO-26, which sports a short barrel, pistol brace, and VFG, yet is not an AOW). The company played the Reformation release close to their vest, letting the shooting community continue to guess right up through their SHOT Show announcement.   Continue reading

2017 NRAAM Opens Tomorrow

GunLink_SHOT17_0479The 146th NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits opens tomorrow evening in Atlanta, GA. It is estimated that 80,000 people will attend the show this year to visit the over 800 exhibitors and other events throughout the weekend. Pre-registration is now closed, but attendees can register on-site starting at 2:00 PM tomorrow. If you are already a NRA member, there is no additional fee for attending the show. If you are not already a member, you can still purchase your membership ahead of time to make the process a little quicker.

The exhibit hall is open Friday through Sunday. Many exhibitors display their new products at this show and this is a chance for the Attendees can expect to see: the new Cloak mag Carriers and the new ShapeShift modular holster system from Alien Gear;  the new Taurus Spectrum, new optics from Holosun, new laser and holster combos from Crimson Trace, and many more. The Shoot Like Girl mobile training trailer will also be in attendance. The NRAAM, unlike SHOT Show, also allows sales on the show floor. Many exhibitors will have show specials on the floor, so keep an eye on the mobile app for advance notification of sales.

Flag CeremonyMany of the exhibitor booths will also feature celebrity appearances. You may find Eva Shockey, Lou Ferringo, or Mark “Oz” Geist sitting in your favorite booth. Brownells will also have a special guest appearance by Matt Uhrin, the Fed-Ex employee who saved a flag from being burned. Throughout the show, there will be many seminars to cover everything from concealed carry methods to choosing the right dog for your family. There is something for everyone in the family.

On top of the exhibitors, attendees can purchase tickets to attend a variety of other special events. The National NRA Foundation Banquet is tomorrow as well as a concert by Matthew West. Friday will be filled with the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, which will feature speeches from President Trump, Sheriff David Clarke, Lieutenant Colonel Allen West, and many more,  and the Women’s Leadership Forum, with Kellyanne Conway as the keynote speaker. Also on Friday, attendees can purchase tickets for the NRA Country Jam. The show will feature performances by Chris Janson, Josh Thompson, and Lindsay Eli. The feature concert on Saturday is Hank Williams, Jr.

 

Female Participation in Shooting Sports Higher than Ever

GirlPower

Female participation in the shooting sports is on the rise and that is a good thing!  Having a bigger tent with more people involved and enjoying firearms can open eyes (and minds) to the reality of how safe, practical, and fun firearm ownership can be.

According to both the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the National Rifle Association (NRA), women are one of the fastest growing demographics in the shooting sports.  From 2001 to 2013, the number of female hunters increased 85% to 3.3 million and the number of target shooters increased 60% to 5.4 million.  When polled on why they wanted to own a firearm, the top three answers were: self-defense, learning to hunt, and to enjoy shooting with friends and family.  Another point from the NSSF study that I found interesting is that nearly 75% of all women gun owners have attended at least one training class with either a professional or a family/friend.

Roughly half of all women gun owners will visit a shooting range an average of one or more times each month for practice or training.  You may have noticed an increase in the number of first time women shooters at your local range; I know that I have.  Unfortunately, not all of that range time is necessarily productive.  During my range visits, I have seen some really terrible “training” sessions at nearby shooting tables.  I watched one guy hand his girlfriend a .410 revolver, show her how to hold it, and then – with his hand over top of hers, reach in and pull the trigger for her from across the bench.  He seemed to find it amusing that she was frightened of the large, heavy recoiling handgun and did not want to keep shooting with it.  On a different trip, I saw someone hand another female shooter a semi-auto pistol to shoot before standing by to watch as she gripped it in her left hand and supported it with her right hand… directly on top of the slide.  Once was enough for that new shooter, who stopped shooting for the day and waited while her partner finished his range day.

Since many women receive training from someone close to them, and many women feel encouraged by family and friends to go shooting, it is a disservice to the new female shooter to not offer proper instruction, especially if it is their first time shooting.  As Olympic shooter Kim Rhode said in a recent interview, shooting is a family sport.  Everyone should actively participate in the entire shooting process for everyone else in the family to help build relationships based on this common interest and to ensure that everyone in the family is familiar with the firearms in the house.  This becomes even more important because a NSSF study showed that more than 40% of women prefer having male present when purchasing a firearm and a similar number feel that they need more training.  This is an enormous opportunity to promote the shooting sports and the Second Amendment within a family.

I am fortunate that my significant other has been my primary instructor and he takes it seriously.  It is one of our many hobbies that we both enjoy and enjoy together.  While the actual activity is an equal playing field between the genders, the firearms industry has been slow to catch up to the growing number of women shooters.  As a female shooter, I have had to learn to adapt to a sport that is largely designed by and for men.

Despite the push for a bizarre progressive agenda, men and women are different.  Let’s start with the obvious differences.  The average American man is ~5’10” and weighs 196 lbs whereas the average American woman is ~5’4” and weighs 166 lbs.  Men are typically taller, weigh more and have less body fat, larger hands, different muscle mass, different lung capacity, and so on.  Women are generally shaped differently than men, especially in the hips and chest – a product of being built to produce and care for offspring.  All of this should sound like common sense right now, but what does it mean?

Women, on average, are smaller in every aspect of the body.  Many full-sized pistols are too large (sometimes too heavy) to hold comfortably and consistently for extended shooting periods.  However, smaller compact and sub-compact handguns – which may fit better in the hands – tend to have stiffer springs to counter the low mass of the slide, which can prove problematic when manipulating the slide.  Fortunately, many manufacturers are designing both new firearms and ammunition offerings that address this recoil issue.  Some manufacturers have designed pistols that are balanced differently to help women manage the recoil.

Staying with the smaller theme, women have shorter arms and proportionally longer necks than men, placing the shoulder-pocket slightly higher than the average man.  This means many rifles and shotguns are uncomfortable to handle and could explain why your lady may bruise more easily and have problems getting a consistent cheek weld (the answer is not a youth stock).  While a child-sized stock may work for some women, the fact remains that most women are larger than children and the smaller, shorter stock will make a weapon front-heavy which could prove burdensome, especially when walking in the field (speaking from experience).  Being smaller also means being shorter.  This can make shooting from a kneeling/sitting position feel like a battle to find the happy medium between comfort, stability and getting the appropriate elevation to hit the target.  As I have consistently found at SHOT Show Range Day and various shooting ranges, many shooting benches are not designed for a short person.  A few companies have been tackling the issue of women shooters in rifles and shotguns with success.  At least two companies have rifles designed by women, for women and two more companies make pricey shotguns that are balanced and proportioned with a woman in mind.   Continue reading

Airguns Make Big Noise at SHOT Show

Wind-Powered Projectiles Garnering Much Attention in Shooting Industry

Airguns_1477With the hustle and bustle of racing around four days of SHOT Show 2017 and an extra day of range time behind us the GunLink team is now working to organize it all and bring our readers info on the latest developments from the shooting industry.  While it seems like many companies were conservative with their R&D last year, likely due to the unknown outcome of the election, there were a few themes that I noticed; one of which was air guns.

It may have just been me, but it seems like a lot more companies than usual were displaying air guns and it got me thinking about what could be driving all of the interest behind this segment of the shooting sports.  The answers to this question are likely as varied and diverse as they are to the question of why anyone is interested in any kind of shooting activities.  Airguns can be quieter, less expensive, and, in some regards, safer than shooting traditional firearms.  Another reason for their popularity is likely that there are fewer regulations on air guns since they are not considered firearms – making them more readily available to a wider audience.  It may also be the case that positive role models from last summer’s Olympic Games shooting sports events may have sparked more interest in air guns.   Continue reading

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