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
Wind-Powered Projectiles Garnering Much Attention in Shooting Industry
With 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
Before heading to SHOT Show this year, I consulted with a few other female shooters that I know to ask what they were hoping to see new this year. In general, I was surprised to find that they were actually in the same KISS school of thought that I am: something that works well, works consistently, and is not difficult to understand how it works. One thing that did surprise me was more interest in fully automatic firearms than I had expected. I have been fortunate in that I have had the opportunity, on more than one occasion, to shoot automatic weapons. If you have not experienced full-auto mag dumps yourself, to be completely honest, it is even more fun than it looks.
Fully-automatic weapons, or machine guns, are regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA). The law basically says that the only legal machine guns for civilians are the ones that were lawfully possessed prior to May 19, 1986 and those require payment of a $200 transfer tax, lengthy approval process, and federal registration in the NFRTR. This makes for a very limited supply of weapons that are in circulation, which – as we learned about supply and demand in Economics 101 – drives the price sky high – often into the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Unless you either join the military or have some pretty cool friends, you may not get the opportunity to shoot a machine gun.
However, a shooter and their ammo (ergo, their money) are easily parted and the firearms industry has come up with some innovative ways to turn a pocket full of money into a hot, smoking pile of spent brass. Thanks to that innovation, there are some legal ways to simulate full-auto firing power. Continue reading
Sure, sporting clays might be in the Olympics, 3-Gun matches may have made their way into televised sports via 3GN, and all levels of shooters may compete on the weekends in IDPA, USPSA, and IPSC matches, but those aren’t the only names in the game. The shooting sports game, that is.
Practical shooting competitions generally have real-world applications that can be carried into our concealed carry, home defense, and general self defense routines. Skeet, Trap, and Sporting Clays help sharpen skills that will carry over into the field for the scattergun hunter. Three-gun matches certainly showcase some amazing shooting abilities with a variety of defensive tools. Do you think that you could perform similar feats of shooting prowess? While riding a galloping horse at full speed? With a single-action firearm?
That is exactly what participants in the sports of Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS) do as they carry on the traditions of the Old West. Continue reading
Several members of the GunLink team have spent at least some portion of their lives in southern Ohio, so the area has a place in our hearts. Although most of us have since spread throughout the country, we were happy to discover Nelsonville-based Shot-Force Pro while wandering the SHOT Show dungeon this past January. It is always nice to run in to someone from “back home” when travelling.
In addition to catching up on Ohio news and being introduced to company founder Steve Davis and his team while visiting their booth in Las Vegas, we were also introduced to some of their innovative targets. On a recent trip back to our old AO, we had the opportunity to stop by and visit the Shot Force facility and see where the magic happens. While there, we also got to put rounds on just about every kind of target that they currently produce as well as getting a behind the scenes look at some of the new target systems that are still in the R&D phase.
After a lively discussion on guns and politics, we got to take a look at the Shot Force production area, including stacks upon stacks of hardened steel plates, the plasma cutting table that transforms them from generic plates into their various shapes, and finished products – clad in brightly colored powder coating – waiting to be shipped out. Continue reading