The old saying “we’ve come a long way baby” rings loud and clear for many women who actively participate in shooting, hunting, fishing and other traditionally male-dominated activities. In the last decade, we have seen more and more of these types of activities dusting off the welcome mat for women. We also have seen more manufacturers that once only catered to men now engineering and designing more female-friendly gear. Why? Because companies have learned women are like men in many ways and are eager to spend money on their hobbies and favorite pastimes.
As an avid hunter, shooter and outdoor skills instructor for the past 10 years, I can testify to the turning of the tide from the days where many women had to wear ill-fitting men’s clothing or use equipment engineered for guys. Thankfully, outdoors-minded women are here to stay and our numbers are growing. We can now find equipment, clothing, boots, plus hunting and shooting opportunities created just for us.
Before we get too excited about this change, there are still many women who have yet to experience or even be given the opportunity to experience traditional outdoor activities. For those women who have yet to experience what it is like to shoot a firearm with confidence, or go afield on a hunt, they are often left wondering where to turn and how to get started.
Introducing a woman, or any newbie for that matter, to the traditional outdoor activities is simple. First, it is important to talk with a woman to see if she has an interest. If at first she declines, do not give up. Personally, I can give you countless examples of women who had no desire to give the outdoors a try. Then, a strange thing happens. They try something new or learn a new skill, and become hooked when the passion bug bites without warning.
Another key factor to acknowledge is newcomers often have a fear of activities many of us take for granted, such as shooting or hunting. Sadly, some have the notion it is wrong to hunt or they regard firearms in a negative light. Both of these fears can be overcome by providing some knowledge of the importance of conservation and the proper instruction of safe firearm handling. Notice I said “some” knowledge and not all of your knowledge. Often we can get excited when we attempt to introduce someone to hobbies we enjoy. One of the keys to getting women involved is simply keeping it light and fun while providing information and without going overboard. Women love to be in the know, but we also like to enjoy the process of learning a new skill at our own pace as well.
Reading the body language of the potential new hunter is important, especially if you hope your passion will become their passion. It is your job to create a positive experience. Addressing fears and concerns before you head afield will go a long way toward promoting a positive experience, which hopefully will turn into a lifelong hobby.
Our goal with the Women Afield series of informational articles, is to share with you what we have learned along the way, such as where you can go to learn new skills, what to do when you get there, as well as introduce you to some interesting people, organizations and manufactures who are working hard to introduce more ladies to the outdoors. We will also cover tips and tactics. And of course no series for women would be complete without shopping so we will show you the latest, must-have products, gear and gadgets for women. We have indeed come a long way ladies, and the future looks bright for women who wish to discover the exciting challenges offered in the traditional outdoor sports.
Do you have a topic suggestion you would like us to cover? Tell us in the comment section.
Lisa Metheny is a published award-winning outdoor writer, photographer, speaker and outdoor skills instructor. Lisa holds several instructor certifications and conducts a number of women-focused outdoor seminars on topics like archery and hunting throughout the year. She regularly teaches hunters education and archery classes and has become an advocate for promoting traditional outdoor recreation to families across the United States. Lisa is also an avid and accomplished hunter with many big game species to her credit. She is a member of POMA and former Board of Directors member as well as a member of the NRA, RMEF, MDF and DU.