Gun ownership in America is rising across the board and has been for some time. From 2001 to 2011, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) reports that there has been a 51.5% increase in women participating in target shooting. Maybe with the fear of our 2A rights threatened, we are feeling more insecure in our safety. Maybe it’s just because it is becoming more acceptable for women to own guns. Either way, we’re buying. Regardless of the reason why you purchased a firearm, the next thing you need is training and practice. For me, a big part of owning guns is the fun factor. Joining a women’s-only pistol league incorporates training, practice, and fun.
Women-only pistol leagues are popping up all over the country, from big organizations such as the DIVA WOW and Girl and a Gun programs, to local leagues started at your closest shooting range. Women-only leagues provide a non-threatening and non-intimidating environment where you get not only practice and training, but develop comradeship with other like-minded women. Lori, a Cowtown DIVA says, “I love shooting leagues. They are all amazing ladies who enjoy shooting and teaching others to shoot.”
All leagues vary slightly in their rules and regulations, but for most of them you will need your own pistol, ammo, hearing and eye protection. Some leagues provide targets, while others will not. Some leagues will have pistols you can borrow or rent. Many let you shoot any caliber you wish. If you already have a handgun, I suggest you join a league that lets you shoot any caliber. If you have not purchased a gun yet, or want a league-specific gun, then I recommend a reliable .22 Long Rifle semi-automatic handgun.
For a pistol league, you want a reliable and accurate gun. Even though shooting leagues are mainly for fun, they are a competition. Without a good, accurate gun, your performance in the league will frustrate you. Most women in the DIVA WOW league I know, use either a Ruger Mark III or a Browning Buck Mark. Both are straight shooters and reliable. The Ruger 22/45, S&W M&P 22, and the Beretta Neos are all good target guns. To read more in depth about completion rimfire pistols, read our blog, .22 LR Competition Pistols: What to Buy, What Not to Buy.
Since you will be shooting hundreds of rounds a week in a shooting league, it is fine to buy the cheapest ammo you can find. Remember, many ranges have ammunition restrictions. For example, my favorite range will not let anyone shoot steel-cored ammunition. Others will not let you shoot full metal jacket. Fortunately, with rimfire, .22 LR, ammo, it really doesn’t matter. I shoot the cheapest .22 LR I can find. Winchester white box is fine. I personally prefer CCI.
Hearing protection is required at all times while on the gun range. Having a pair of earmuffs that are comfortable is just as important as how well they protect. An old pair of passive earmuffs I have are big, bulky, and do not let a lot of airflow, therefore during the summer months, they can be quite miserable. I suggest a pair of earmuffs that are low profile and have a good airflow system. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health actually recommends using both earplugs and earmuffs together when shooting. It might come as a surprise to hear that earplugs can actually offer more protection than earmuffs, because earplugs fully block the ear canal. Electronic earmuffs amplify quieter sounds, allowing you to hear your range officer’s commands. These earmuffs will have integrated microphones and some have independent volume controls. The Howard Leight Impact Sport earmuffs are folding, low profile, lightweight, and have airflow technology to keep you cool.
A top-quality set of shooting goggles can be the difference between a good day and a bad day at the range. I have had plenty of poor eye protection glasses that fog up as soon as I put them on. When you fog up, you cannot see your target and you shoot badly. Shooting glasses should have impact-resistant or polycarbonate lenses that offer high scratch resistance. The Wiley X Eyewear Jake glasses and the Remington T-71 shooting glasses both are fog-resistant and have a cushioned brow for a higher comfort level.
I know that the DIVA WOW leagues provide targets, including a practice target, a competition target, and a fun target. If you have to purchase your own targets, go for a traditional, NRA competition bullseye. Hoppe’s has a good choice in 25 yards and 50 feet rapid-fire targets.
The Range Bag
To transport your pistol, ammo, and other gear, you will need a range bag. I have a separate range bag that I keep my earplugs, earmuffs, ammo, targets, a pen, and gun oil in all the time so that it is grab and go. You might want to keep other things in your bag, too, such as a wallet, keys, phone, lip-gloss, or whatever else. I prefer a bag with a shoulder strap, because ammo can get heavy and I like to keep my hands free. I’m a sucker for pink, so I like the Bulldog Cases pink deluxe range bag. The Champion pistol range bag includes a pistol rug and many large pockets for all your gear.
You might think cleaning and maintenance is for after shooting, but experience has taught me that you need to have a bottle of gun lube in your range bag. Plenty of times, my magazine and guns have needed oil in the middle of a shooting session. If you start getting jams consistently, a little lube should fix it right up. One of everyone’s favorite, an old trusty stand by for me is Hoppe’s gun oil. It conditions, lubricates, and protects. In addition, the easy pinpoint spout is less messy when you apply it.
Have you joined a pistol league? If so, tell me about it in the comment section below.