Do Not Underestimate the Woman Who Shoots

Recently, fellow gun bloggers Caleb Giddings and Shelley Rae have written blogs about laying off the hate.

As a female gun blogger and gun owner, I can relate to their statement. Just do an Internet search on “girls with guns” and you get a mixture of scantily clad women holding or firing guns and videos of girls shooting guns badly. It is rare, unless you know what you are specifically looking for to find a woman shooting a gun confidently and correctly. You just find women shooters to either objectify or ridicule. It confuses me when I read a bunch of hateful comments, because I feel like all of us in the shooting community should encourage each other. We actually have a few things in common—we all want to be safe, be better shooters, have fun, love guns, and want to preserve our right to own those guns. The media demonizes our favorite sport. I mean, where is the anti-baseball bat campaign? Should we not band together, at least for our love of shooting?

Shelley feels that there has been some backlash lately on women gun owners and calls for a stop to unnecessary criticism. In an NRA News interview with Julianna Crowder from A Girl and A Gun women’s shooting league, Julianna describes trigger therapy. Julianna says that going to the range relieves stress. The interviewer condescendingly asks Julianna, “Does the bitterness leave, too?” “Are you less clingy after?” Condescending attitudes such as these do not encourage women to join the shooting sports.

First, she might just be a better shot than you are. It is well-documented that most women tend to be initially better at shooting—they have better hand eye coordination and usually follow direction better the first time they pick up a gun.

The shooting sports do not discriminate. At the IPC Shooting World Cup in 2011, a woman ranked number one out of both men and women shooters. In 1992 in a coed Olympic skeet event, a woman, Shan Zhang from China, beat everyone with a world record score of 373 out of 375.

Next, do not underestimate the woman shooter because she has stepped outside the box. Perceived as a masculine hobby, a woman who decides to shoot is treading on unfamiliar territory. This takes guts. Respect the woman who shoots. She made a tough decision, one in which she might not have gotten any support. It takes thick skin to know you are about to walk into ridicule. Just because she can probably take it, doesn’t mean you should dish it.

Cheaper Than Dirt sponsored shooter Kay Miculek, head instructor for the Babes with Bullets, camps says:

In many instances, she made the decision to seek knowledge in an effort to overcome a fear born of ignorance. She has studied, and practiced, and applied this knowledge to an instrument that she was once afraid to touch. A woman that shoots has learned that she is in complete control of a machine that in the wrong hands can cause pain and suffering. Yet in the right hands, her hands, it can offer protection and security. A woman that shoots knows the satisfaction of setting, and then accomplishing goals. If she is a competitive shooter, she is learning to control her body and emotions. She is learning to make split second decisions when the stress levels are high. She has experienced the exuberant high of a peak performance, and picked herself up to try again after a devastating defeat. A woman that shoots is in control, determined, disciplined, confident, and not to be underestimated!

Just like you, every woman has her own reasons to buy and shoot a gun. It is not just for self-defense. I have the self-defense gun, the plinking gun, the just for grins gun, and the collector’s gun. My reasons for owning each and every one of them is just as varied as anyone else’s reasons for owning a gun. Women shooters are not scared, timid creatures. In fact, they are taking the first steps to be in charge of their own safety. Women gun owners are empowered. They can protect themselves and their family. They chose to join pistol leagues, take classes, and compete professionally.

When I first started shooting, I would get all kinds of help. No one seemed to let me work out jams on my own. Some guy was always coming to my rescue. Was it because they just assumed I didn’t know what I was doing? Sometimes I didn’t, but I wanted to learn. I can’t learn if someone was always doing it for me. We all appreciate help, but only when we ask for it. Men, just like women, do not have this innate ability to be an expert shooter. It is a learned skill. One we can all master.

In the United States, there is an estimated 20 million women gun owners. This power in numbers has started reflecting on the industry. More and more companies are catering to women shooters, such as Lisa Looper’s holsters designed by a woman, made for women, SHE Outdoor clothing, and Prois clothing for the women hunter. Women shooters know enough that they are demanding products made specifically for their body type. Do not underestimate them to make an informed decision on the gear they choose to use.

Just like you, she is exercising her 2nd Amendment rights. The woman shooter is fully enjoying her freedoms of citizenship. In Laura Browder’s book, Her Best Shot: Women and Guns in America she writes, “The armed woman…must be patriotic while realizing that the state has no responsibility for her protection, and may even be hostile to her interests.” (p. 212-213)

You may not know her story. Maybe the woman you see shooting at the range is sighting in her deer rifle she has used for seven seasons, or maybe she is breaking in her very first handgun because she wants to feel safer. Either way, she has a valid reason to be there, just as you do.

Women who decide to take up shooting are walking into a sport and industry that is full of stereotypes and expectations, in which she probably fits none of them. Most women shooting organizations such as the DIVA Women Outdoors Worldwide focus on encouragement. In my experience, I get half encouragement and half discouragement. You might get the same thing. Therefore, guys, when you see a woman at the range, or in competition, encourage her, try not be condescending. In fact, she might be up to a friendly target practice challenge. Just whatever you do, don’t underestimate her. And yes, I am proud that I do in fact, shoot like a girl.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (14)

  1. DO NOT bash people who shoot. DO NOT bash people who don’t like shooting DO BASH people who don’t want anyone to be able to shoot.

    THEY are the ones to fear, hate and MOCK. THEY are the fools. THEY are the jerks. THEY are the trators to what the founders wanted and attempted to create.

  2. I agree with the other fellows above , and why not” let that Birthdaty Lady , pick her own handgun of choice , or rifle . Even if she buy`s it and then doesn`t like it and want`s a diff. one , Just stand behind her brother , and support er 110% , remember , she`s your # 1 Best Friend peiord . Ya never know Kerstin , that little Lady of your`s may end up with so many diff. gun`s one day the you guy`s may have to buy another safe to put um all in . A man can Never have Toooooo many guns , I don`t think anyhow , whether he use`s them @ the Range , competion or , hunting . It`s a Great” privlage to be able to even just own guns of his / her choice . A Lot” of mine , I don`t ever shoot , but I injoy getting them out of the safe now and then , and just looking , or Cleaning them . Like my Loading room , I injoy passing time away just loading diff. ammo I use . That`s a privlage a lot of us share also ….. Shoot all” the Ammo you can guys and Ladys , and Save the rest . Be a GOOD” responsible , safe , citizen Always” with your firearms . It Is a Privlage our for fathers made Sure Of , And gave to us…. Always Respect there thought`s behind that right , Guys and Gal`s

  3. i agree with tommy too, and a suggestion for him, don’t make that birthday present a “suprise”. go shopping with her for her gun, let her make it clear to the people where you’re shopping that it’s her gun and her choice, and if has to be a gun she will be comfortable with, carrying and shooting. the dance is “lady’s choice”, and she gets to pick her partner.

  4. From my perspective, there doesn’t seem to be any backlash about female shooters where I am from in my part of Michigan. All male shooters I talk to encourage females to pick up a gun and shoot. There is more backlash about actual gun ownership in this left-leaning State than there is about females shooting. I constantly get ridiculed for being a legal gun owner myself and it makes me sad to see where society is heading. I FULLY encourage ALL females to own a gun a shoot for self-defense and shooting for sport at local ranges. The last time I shot with a female, she was the lone girl in a group of all males shooting a semi-automatic AK-47 7.62x39mm rifle. She had no prior shooting experience and neither did some of the guys. She ended up being the most accurate shooter that day than ALL the males and even myself, an experienced shooter. She displayed a highly natural shooting ability and marksmanship. She has a very petite body so I assumed she would have an issue with the recoil. As it turned out, I was highly mistaken, and she had absolutely no problem with the recoil. The guys were complaining more about the recoil. The only problem was, she kept thinking it was a bolt action rifle and once in a while ejected new rounds before she fired them. I kept telling her, but it was more silly than anything so I just laughed about it and kept correcting her. Needless to say, she caught on. After-all, she was new to shooting and you can’t blame someone who is new at something to know exactly what to do.

    Comment #8 by Tommy is right. If more females were introduced to firearms then the 2nd Amendment would have a tremendous amount of new supporters. They need to know shooting a gun isn’t a scarey prospect.

  5. Got my butt kicked by a female shooter more than once in competition, and I consider myself much better than average. Women are excellent shooters and I’m glad to have them on the line with me.

  6. The first time I took my wife shooting SHE LOVED IT. She was always like “you and the boys go have fun.” No she’s like “when are we going AGAIN.” She shot a 3″ group @ 50′ with my .40 caliber the first time she ever held a gun. Although she does prefer shooting my buddies 9mm to the .40cal. Now at least I know what to buy her for her birthday in June… If more guys would bring their ladies shooting, we would end up with twice as many supporters of the 2nd Amendment as we have now.

  7. Thanks Suzanne!

    As a new gun enthusiast, I am blessed to have a supportive, non-judgmental mate who is not about to let me shoot his rifles just to make another youtube video of a girl falling on her behind. He brought me to the range, encouraged me to look around and recommended some safety classes. He shows me guns he thinks I can handle, and is sharing his knowledge with me. A Montana native, he grew up with guns – I did not. Without ever seeing me shoot, he already respects my eye and coordination, and can’t wait for me to choose my first gun.

    And neither can I.

    My own mother would be shocked and appalled, and it is this attitude I shrug off. We don’t need it from men, or other women for that matter. I happen to think I might be good enough to compete – and shooting sports do not discriminate. I thank you for your encouragement, for your candor, and for the resources you just gave us all access to!

  8. one thing that seriously ticks me off is the mook with a video cam who thinks it’s a hoot to give his wife or girl friend a 12 guage shotgun, or a big .44 magnum, with no instruction about handling recoil, then stands there laughing as the poor girl gets knocked on her bottom when it goes off. NOT funny charlie! i taught my wife to shoot with a .22 pistol, then she went to a .380 which suited her comfort level, she learned long guns with an old g.i. m-1 carbine, even firing an inert practice grenade fom the m8a1 launcher. my daughter at age 14 or 15 was shooting my m1911a1 .45 and enjoying it, though she later went to a 9mm colt “govt model” for the lesser recoil. my grand daughter started with grandma’s .22 at age 6, went through a “guns are a guy thing” stage, now she’s back, at age 16 saying “grandpa, teach me about guns, so i can protect myself and my family”. i’ll start her with the old .380, but she’s a big girl, and if/when she wants to try the .45 i’ll let her, with instruction on handling the recoil, and let her find her comfort level. treat the ladies well gentlemen, on and off the range, and you’ll be rewarded with good friends and companions,

  9. This is Julianna Crowder of A Girl and A Gun Women’s Shooting League. Thank you for including my interview in this blog. While I LOVE Cameron Grey and the NRA News, I was a bit tongue tied on how to answer the question from his other guest if “I am less bitter or clingy” after getting my “Trigger Therapy” (phrase originally coined from Tracy Hughes of Brillant Backstraps in Houston TX). I answered yes, but that is kind of a true statement. As with many women, I sometimes feel less than I am. Having this hobby, skill set, sport, what ever you want to label it, does help me recharge and remember I am a confident secure woman. I also have a wonderful community of men who support what I do and have helped me become the leader I am today.

    With that said, we have alot of work to do in regards to balancing the image of women and guns. The issues discussed in the blog are very real and I see it every time I go to the range. I love that guys are bringing the women in their life to the range, the focus needs to be on educating them so they are actually helping to foster the love of firearms, instead of turning the newbie gal off to the idea all together.

  10. Well let me say this about all that. If we don`t get our act together and get united in this country, men and women, we’re not gonna have a free country to live in before very much longer people. This Government, and these sorry companies we all slave for almost daily, are gobbling up every one of our rights to exist as human beings Hell we don`t even like our neighbors where we live, for this reason or that reason. We go to the voting poles and just vote for some clown who has his or her name list on the ballot, knowing VERY little about that person. We keep sending the SAME ones back to their seats year after year, and most of them don’t have a clue how most of us are forced to live here in the REAL world. They could care less about your well being or your family’s because they’re in a whole diff. world, much diff. than the rest of us are forced to live in. UNITY people, down here in the real world, that’s what it takes. And IF we ALL don’t start liking our neighbors and get re-united, REAL soon down here on this level, we’re All Doomed…..We simply HAVE To Get It Together people, and take back this country from these politicians and these companies trying to choke us out! ….All men and women, young and old, you may laugh and say, how do ya do that? Well the first step is Unite! Get to know your neighbors, and stop judging them for whatever reasons, that`s pretty clear. If you look around yourself at others, remember they’re in the same fight to struggle to survive in this country as you are, made up for the few elite that are choking out the rest of us. That’s where you start. Band Together …. Stick Together….. Stand up and protect each other no mater what! We took our Great Land back once from Britain and they’re crooked elite bunch and we CAN do it again we’re United! That’s the only way. So when ya see the ladies shooting at the range, tell them thanks for coming and shooting with us all …. We Need Every One Of You Ladies In This Struggle to Survive From All These Thugs and Their so~called Power Reign to squash the most of us out.

  11. Bet those wimps who make fun of female shooters would quake in their boots if they had to compete. lmao Didn’t realize how many of my neighbors, female and male, were armed until a surge of break=ins and alarms going off. 2 of 9 within a few hundred feet were females. All trained. And these are just the ones I know about. Great to know we have a ready and able meet and greet welcoming committee. 🙂 It helps us all sleep more soundly.

  12. I liked the article right up to the end, Suzanne, where you said, “Therefore, guys, when you see a woman at the range, or in competition, encourage her, try not be condescending.” Seems pretty condescending of you to presume I have to “try” not to be condescending. I believe I am never condescending–to anyone. And particularly not to women. I encourage women to shoot and have always provided them with free training whenever I could. And, yes, women often respond to instruction than some men whose egos and/or prior habits may get in the way of absorbing new information.

    Perhaps you should not have used such an all-einclusive term as “guys”. I would not have been offended if you used something more specific–like troglodytes–or maybe just a**holes. 😉

    By the way, Babes with Bullets will be camping at my home range this November 9-11, 2012 – Beginner and Intermediate Handgun – Held at Tucson Rifle Club, home range for Camp Director Deb Ferns. Campers will arrive on Thursday afternoon/evening, November 8th. This will be a novice and intermediate camp. Range days will be Friday, November 9th to mid-day on Sunday, November 11th. FULL COST $675.00 (Includes USPSA or NRA membership), DISCOUNTED COST $650.00 (already an NRA or USPSA member)


    Peter Hills
    Executive Officer
    Tucson Rifle Club
    Tucson, Arizona

  13. very good piece, and very true about women learning to shoot. they come in without a lot of the attitudes guys have, ready to learn, and they listen and absorb what they hear and see. from my point of view, as a guy, i’m happy to share the sport with the ladies.

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