|Erica Rodriguez from|
and her Px4
Beyond the trends, the statistics and the news, it is important to recognize that, overall, our industry does not make it easy for a woman to enter the sacred halls of firearms ownership.
Heck: I would go as far as saying that, in some cases, it is even hard for a woman to cross the threshold of a gun store. It can be intimidating for any newbie to approach what is seemingly a male-only environment as it is. Add to it the fact that we're talking about firearms, with all the reverential fear that society associates with it, and you have a recipe for detachment.
And, yet, women have been joining this incredibly fun world of firearms in drones, lately.
Some say it is a result of the increasingly-high divorce rate, which creates a growing number of single women living with kids, while others say that it simply the fun of going to the range and the consequent word-of-mouth activity that does the trick; whatever the reason, recent studies prove that more and more women own guns.
I feel, sadly, that the market has not kept up with this trend, and for two reason: on one side, it is still hard to find classes where women can feel free to ask questions and learn, with the exception of some great NRA programs and what I recently learn are events and seminars dedicated to women at Sportsman's Warehouse. I meet some women who have grown up using guns. Safety procedures, loading and unloading a gun, posture and recoil control are second nature to them. To Jenn, who lives in a large city in the Northeast, that was not the case. "Simply put," she told me recently, "I don't want to make a fool of myself. So I just postpone learning."
When it comes to product availability, too, our industry makes women face an unfair entry barrier, especially when it comes to shotguns, with length of pull offerings that sometime make shotgun shooting a less-than-enjoyable experience.
The greatest obstacle, however, is visible only when you scratch below the surface. It isn't as prominent and widespread as the other two, but it is a barrier nonetheless. When I ask people "what can this industry do to attract more women?" the answer can lean toward cliches like "pink guns" and "hot men selling guns." This tells me that - in the eyes of some - female gun ownership is still not a legitimate activity.
But do not fear: not all is lost. There are examples like the NRA programs I mentioned above, to help. But help also comes in an easy-to-consume online format. One of my favorite is a website called "Girl's guide to guns." I spoke to Natalie, one of the creators of the website, recently. Natalie wants women to know that there is a serious side, a life-saving one, to gun ownership, but there's a more complex and savory side to it, that is made of social interaction, of meaningful relationships, of team-play, and of the satisfaction of "smoking" a clay or hitting that elusive bullseye at the pistol range. Memories are made, and that is worth all the gunpowder in the world.
The truth, if you talk to some neurologists, is that women's brains are better equipped to be good shots: a woman's brain is more able to focus on what's directly in front of them, and can better withstand the repetitive and sometime monotonous patterns of clay shooting without wandering off.
Now: on to you. Are you a woman who shoots? What has been your experience, when you started shooting? Are you a woman who isn't shooting yet? What's holding you back? Are you someone with an opinion on the subject, regardless of your gender? Help us get better at providing the right solution to current and prospective women shooter, and let's make 2012 the year of the gentler, armed sex.