By Anne Vinnola
The FBI released the numbers: August had the highest number of background checks since the system was implemented in 1998. A whopping 1.7 million firearm background checks were performed. Female firearm purchases are soaring, and are one of the fastest growing demographics in the gun industry. Women are taking ownership of their own safety, flocking to shooting sports events as competitors, practicing in local ranges, and hunting in record numbers.
Everyday, men come in to Magnum Shooting Center wanting to purchase new guns for their wives and daughters. These men usually love the sport of shooting, and want to give their wives and daughters the chance to fall in love with shooting as well. And while good intentioned they may be, they may be going about this goal the wrong way. Those who are new to the world of firearms—men and women alike—may be intimidated by certain firearms, and should have the chance to “try before they buy”.
Here are some tips that you fellas can consider that may help your lady 1) find the right firearm, 2) encourage her love of firearms, and 3) become proficient with her firearm.
Don’t rush the process
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation 2014 Women Gun Owners Report, women consider purchasing a gun for at least a few months before finally making their decision. This would indicate that women are typically not impulsive gun purchasers. For most women, a large ticket item like this needs to be given thorough consideration. You may be super excited to help her, but women SHOP. It’s what we do.
Determine the purpose of her first firearm
Your lady needs to have a clear idea of what she is going to do with her firearm. Is she going to be target practicing? Will her gun be for self-defense and home protection? Is she going to be carrying it with her concealed carry permit? Does she want to shoot competitively? Will she be hunting? What she wants with her first firearm will help narrow down her options dramatically.
Get her some outside instruction
Even if you are an expert, you may not be the best one to teach her. We often have some trouble teaching those close to us. Help her find a great class where she will be able learn from an outside source, practice with the firearm, and feel camaraderie with the other students. I was an award-winning equestrian for years, and successfully instructed many people. But I quickly realized that my own daughters needed someone else to teach them. I took my ego out of the equation, and they learned to be excellent riders. Plus, there was much less fighting.
Consider female instruction
Women typically learn well from other women, so a class taught by a woman can also be beneficial. We form a sisterhood with each other, and encourage each other differently than when we are learning from men. I am NOT saying men are bad instructors, but often women learn best from each other… building each other up as we go. Women understand other women well, and so your lady’s comfort level could increase if she’s learning from another woman. Magnum’s head instructor, Nikki Carroll, is wonderful with ladies, and naturally builds their confidence.
Remember, the goal here is to empower her, and help her build confidence. The more information and encouragement she gets, the more successful she could be.
Don’t buy a gun for her without her input—let her try some out
Buying a gun is like buying a bra… it needs to fit. Ok, maybe not quite like a bra but you get the message. Every day men come in to the store with the sweet words I love to hear… “I want to buy my wife a firearm.” Even though I can surely sell guns to these fellas, I would rather have her present, and able to participate in the process. Everyone should have the opportunity to feel, try out, and own a firearm that fits them.
If you are intent on a surprise for her, perhaps consider a gift card, and let her know that you would like her to pick out the perfect firearm. Or, better yet, sign her up for some classes and training, and have her try several firearms. It would be tough to put down a large amount of money for a gun she really isn’t comfortable with.
Now, a lot of people might have some misconceptions about women and firearms. Here are come common myths that need to be busted…
A woman must have a tiny gun because her hands are small
This seems to make sense at first, but I have seen many women come in to the store and test out the small .380’s—like the Ruger LCP or Smith and Wesson Bodyguard—and express some dissatisfaction with the firearm. Then, they would try out a larger firearm, and 9 times out of 10, choose the larger one. The tiny pistols are great for some things, but can sometimes be difficult for anyone to hold and maneuver. Women want a gun that they can grip easily and handle—without feeling like it is going to flip out of their hand.
A woman should start with a revolver because she can’t rack a slide
This statement usually makes my eye start to twitch. I love to watch a woman who was told this, grin and get super excited when I show her an easier, safe way to rack a slide. Additionally, there are some techniques that make it much easier for gals with small hands to do it. Get her some instruction and don’t tell her she can’t, because odds are… she can.
She needs a .22 to start out with, because the recoil on anything larger will scare her
Of course, if if she’s being told that anything larger than a .22 will be scary, then the chances of her being afraid increase. You don’t want her shaking on the range because she’s had a fear created within her by those close to her. Now, my own firearms of choice are not .45’s, but I am not afraid to shoot them. It is delightful to see women learn and become accomplished shooters… confident that they can handle any firearm sent their way. You want her to respect a firearm in her capable hands. Not be afraid of it.
Ladies want a pink gun
It is not the color of the gun that attracts a woman, but the fit and functionality of it. In only about 10% of the firearms I sell to women do they buy based on the color. They may be attracted to a pretty colored gun at first, but that is definitely not what the final purchase is based on.
In all, we want you guys to help your ladies get the right firearm for them. You can help them every step of the way! But, if you want a little help… you know that, at Magnum Shooting Center, we are excited to be that resource for you. Check out our upcoming ladies’ classes on our calendar, and get your gal started!