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
Survival-minded readers will appreciate the latest series of books coming from Whitman Publishing’s Second Amendment Media: Grid Down Survival.
The Grid Down Survival Guides offer preparedness information that would be vital in many disaster situations although, as the name implies, they focus on a grid down scenario in which infrastructure fails and societal norms begin to collapse. Grid Down could be anything from minor disruptions in every day creature comforts to SHTF/TEOTWAWKI (s**t hitting the fan /the end of the world as we know it) and, in the spirit of “hope for the best but prepare for the worst,” the guide series puts a good deal of focus on the latter end of that spectrum. Such a scenario may sound far-fetched but, realistically, we could be one relatively minor disaster away from a grid-down situation at any moment.
Consider the devastating aftermath – both natural and man-made – when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Consider the events that unfolded during the nationwide “protests” stemming from the situation in Ferguson, Missouri over the past year: violence, looting, burned buildings, national guard mobilization, police shootings, interstate highway shutdowns and more. Consider the fragility of our power grid in the scope of threats like the 2013 sniper attacks on California power stations, which knocked out 17 transformers that took over a month to repair, solar flares, or enemy attacks and the amount of time it would take to recover given the production capacity for power station equipment and the existing stock (or lack thereof) of replacement parts.
The “war on coal,” the fight against hydraulic fracturing (fracking), pushback against the Keystone XL Pipeline and other factors may even further imperil our energy infrastructure – even if only by causing increased economic strain on the industry and consumers. Crumbling bridges and non-existent “shovel ready” highway projects might show cracks in our transportation grid. With economic turmoil in the European market (Greek tragedy?), Russia tangling with Ukraine and annexing Crimea, Iranian nuke talks, conflict with the Norks over hacking allegations, and countless other examples of instability in the world, it just makes sense to be prepared. Continue reading
Estimated numbers compiled by NSSF indicate that more people than ever are carrying a concealed weapon these days. Not surprisingly (and despite anti-gun rhetoric to the contrary), crime has not increased commensurately with with the greater number of “guns on the street.”
While nationwide CCW is estimated to be around 4%, some states are estimated to have 10% or more of the population packing (good job, Iowa and South Dakota), with several others following closely. See the chart below for a full state-by-state breakdown.
Reasons for the increased number of concealed carriers are many and varied. As depicted in the map above, many states have moved from having no concealed carry or restrictive “may issue” CCW regulations to being “shall issue” states. Even unlikely states like Illinois have joined the concealed carry crowd. This relaxation of carry restrictions allows more people to get carry permits, which may help to remove the perceived stigma of carrying a firearm, which snowballs into even greater numbers as citizens view a firearm as a viable way to protect themselves and their loved ones. Greater reciprocity and even the ability to take CCW training online make it even easier for law abiding individuals to get a permit.
Do you or someone you know carry a concealed firearm? Share your story and experiences below in the comments section.
Fact: Total concealed carry permits in the U.S. increased approximately 29 percent from an estimated 6.9 million in 2010 to an estimated 9.0 million in 2012.
A new trio of concealed carry resources are available from the recently launched 2nd Amendment Media imprint of Whitman publishing. The trio includes a summary of firearms laws around the United States and two guides to carrying a concealed firearm.
Legally Armed: A Concealed Carry Gun Law Guide includes a state-by-state guide to the “law of the land” concerning various aspects of CCW with photo illustrations by firearms photographer Oleg Volk. The book covers basics like who can get a carry permit, whether open carry is allowed, how firearms can (and can not) be carried in vehicles. The guide also covers essentials like where you can and can not carry (for instance, in restaurants that serve alcohol or state parks), whether or not you have the “duty to inform” a law enforcement officer if they make contact with you, and more – including relevant excerpts from the state laws. Legally Armed also touches on other aspects of firearms ownership, such as NFA status.
Each state is also graded on an A+ (like Kentucky) through F (like Illinois) scale based on how much gun control. Additionally, contact information is given for the entity that regulates concealed carry such as the state police or state’s attorney general’s office.
In addition to an overview of the 50 states’ laws, Legally Armed also covers Continue reading
To keep any skill sharp, it is important to practice that skill. Shooting is no different. If anything, practicing your firearms skills is more important than many other skills since your life may one day depend on it. However, whether it is due to ammo costs, range restrictions, lack of time or some other reason, many of us might not get to train as often or in the manner that we would like to. We recently had the chance to try out a new tool that can help keep shooting skills sharp – the ReadyShot system.
We met ReadyShot founder Brent Backhaus at the 2014 NRA Annual Meetings where he introduced us to his creation- a laser training system that lets you train how you want, where you want, when you want, with your own firearm.
We have used laser training tools before and have done our fair share of dry fire/snap cap practice, and each of them have their own benefits and downfalls. For instance, dry fire practice with snap caps is a great way to work on draw-and-fire drills, work on grip and trigger manipulation and other fundamentals but, without feedback on where your “shots” hit, it is of limited use. Some laser training tools give you various degrees of feedback but, with simple bullseye-style targets or cans, they more closely mimic plinking practice rather than practical firearms use. Further, many of them may be difficult or tedious to use, requiring the user to cycle the slide or hammer to reset the trigger to allow for follow up shots.
The ReadyShot overcomes many of those issues through its innovative target system and gun insert for single action striker fired pistols like the Glock and XD. Additionally, each component of the ReadyShot system is available a la carte and is, for the most part, compatible with other laser training systems. We had a chance to try out the ReadyShot Glock Kit both as a standalone unit and with other training system components. Continue reading
“Shooting For Survival” is an FBI training film produced by the US Department of Justice circa mid-1970s. This short film presents basic rules for survival against hostile fire including taking cover, shooting from cover and several defensive firearms techniques as they were taught to law enforcement personnel 40 years ago.