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
Women have myriad problems when considering a holster for concealed carry. It can be difficult enough to find a product that conceals in everyday clothing, but it can be even more difficult to find something that can be concealed in dress clothes or athletic clothes.
Given that women are among the fastest growing group of shooters, it is no surprise that many enterprising women have already come up with a number of innovative solutions to the CCW issue. While many traditional holster companies do create holsters that they market to female shooters, they are typically for standard IWB or OWB, which can be challenging for women since our clothes are typically more form fitting and our hips are shaped differently than men’s. Continue reading
When women shop for accessories, we shop for looks as well as function and fit. A common problem with many IWB and OWB holsters for women is that our tops are typically more form fitting than men’s shirts and women’s jeans tend to ride around the hips rather than the waist. This can make it difficult to effectively conceal a pistol on the waist. A common solution, since many women already carry a purse, is to opt for off-body carry and make the purse their “holster”.
There are a number of companies on the market that make purses designed specifically for concealed carry. Features can include a specific pouch or pocket in the purse (or outside the purse) for carrying the weapon. This pocket can be accessible from inside or outside (sometimes both) the main pocket of a purse. Some companies include locking zippers and some even include a cable-lined strap for reinforcement (and to prevent theft). Continue reading
Chances are if you are a female interested in the outdoors, hunting, or shooting, you have heard of Girls With Guns (GWG). GWG started in 2008 with apparel designed to be fashionable while still allowing a young woman to wear camouflage to the store. From humble beginnings in a garage, GWG started out designing and embroidering their own hats and now their items can be found in national chains such as Cabela’s and Dick’s.
Norissa Harman and Jen Adams are two friends who are young, fashionable, and avid hunters. They grew tired of having to wear small men’s, and probably large boy’s, clothing while hunting. When you are out in the field hunting, ill-fitting clothes can cause many problems, such as exposed skin, being noisy, and restricted movement. They eventually expanded their clothing line to include hunting clothes, designed by women for women. Continue reading
Taking a break from the noise and excitement of Range Day and the miles of aisles on the SHOT Show exhibit floor, the GunLink team had a chance to attend the presentation of the Shooting for Women Alliance’s (SWFA) 2015 Ladies Choice Awards. The well-attended event filled quickly and, while our Women’s Shooting editor got there early for a seat, I ended up in the standing-room-only portion – which worked out well for shooting photos and congratulating the award recipients as they exited.
Awards were presented by SFWA founder, Susan Carrichner Rexrode – who, in in 1992, was held hostage at knife-point in her own home for 5 ½ hours and then stalked for two years. Following her ordeal, Susan became a more active participant in her self defense and began training others to help prevent something similar from happening to them – out of that was born the SFWA.
In front of a standing room only crowd with a multitude of onlookers sneaking a peek through the entryway, fifteen awesome industry leaders accepted 2015 Ladies Choice Awards for Guns and Gear for the Modern Woman presented by Shooting for Women Alliance, a non-profit 501(c)3 nationally-renowned organization based in Knoxville, Tennessee. “10,000+ women weighed in with all products being used during actual personal defense related training classes, and the crème de’ la crème rose to the top,” explained Rexrode.
Criteria to be considered as a Ladies Choice Award recipient include: a women-friendly company that designs products that actually work well for women, are easy for them to use, perform as they expect, and understands that it is NOT about pink (although customization options are appreciated). All products are tested Continue reading
‘Women Gun Owners’ report and new infographic highlight fastest growing segment in shooting sports
More than half of women (55.6 percent) participating in a new study commissioned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation said they intend to purchase at least one firearm in the next 12 months. That finding and many others reflect the growing popularity of firearms ownership by women, who represent the fastest growing segment of the shooting sports.
Today during the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show), NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti discussed the findings in the new report, “Women Gun Owners: Purchasing, Perceptions and Participation.” NSSF, which owns the SHOT Show, is the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry.
“In the past decade, the number of women owning firearms and participating in target shooting and hunting has soared. This study helps us understand why women are choosing to purchase firearms and accessories and what shooting activities appeal to them most,” said Sanetti.
The study, conducted in 2014, focused on women ages 18 to 65 who owned at least one firearm. Over a third of women in the study were new gun owners, having purchased their first firearm within the last three years. This group of new gun owners, who are primarily between the ages of 18 and 34, reflects the changing demographics among women choosing to own firearms—a change captured visually in NSSF’s new infographic, “Girl Power,” which complements the new report.
“The women’s market is a force in our industry, and manufacturers, retailers and shooting ranges are making changes to their products and services to satisfy women’s tastes and needs. This report will assist anyone interested in knowing more about women’s enthusiasm for and attitudes toward firearms,” said Jim Curcuruto, NSSF Director of Industry Research and Analysis.
Among the report’s findings Continue reading