As a woman, the idea of shooting a gun can be intimidating, especially when all of the shooters you’re surrounded by are men. To take away that pressure and allow women to explore the idea of gun ownership, classes and field days are now being designed with the female in mind. Part of removing the fear and anxiety for women who want to dabble into the gun world is developing ladies only classes. After all, we are the largest and fastest growing demographic of new gun owners.
While we love you gentleman, sometimes you all have a tendency to take over to “show us how it’s done” or, as some women would say, to “mansplain.” The feeling of being inadequate or in over our heads can deter a lot of women from becoming shooters. These ladies only classes are a great way to break the barrier and give women the opportunity to experience a love of the shooting sports by working with female instructors and classmates.
Last month, I had the opportunity to attend a women’s outdoor clinic put on by my local female fish and game wardens. It was the best $10 and eight hours I ever spent. I was able to try my hand at a number of different outdoor and hunting-related activities that I might have otherwise never experienced.
We were taught how to use a bow and arrow, specifically with the idea of hunting in mind. I had no idea that arrows splinter if they're pulled out of practice targets too hard or that you can't reuse arrows you used for a kill.
We learned how to hunt waterfowl. Specifically, our instructor talked about the best places to sit and wait for ducks, the different types of gauges there are and why it’s important to make sure we have steel shots. After all, we want to be respectful of wildlife habitat and make sure we’re not harming water sources with lead.
We were taught how to skin and quarter large game in the field. First, we watched a video that walked us through the process, which started with removing the animal’s hyde all the way to packing it out. After we watched the video, we were taken outside to practice our newly-learned skills. The wardens had two does that were roadkill for us to practice on.
When they told us at the beginning of the course that we’d be have the opportunity to practice what it’d be like in the field, I was turned off by the idea of even remotely gutting an animal. I didn’t grow up around hunters and I thought my city upbringing would deter me from wanting to gut the doe (after all, it was Bambi in my mind). I surprised myself and was the only one in my group of friends who went through the gutting process. I actually pulled the hyde off the leg and snapped its feet off.
The wardens also taught us the fundamentals of fly fishing, specifically how fly fishing varies from traditional rod fishing. We were able to take fly fishing rods and spent a good 20 minutes practically how to properly cast without breaking our wrists (who knew there was a technique?!).
An NRA licensed firearms instructor taught us the basics of firearm safety and allowed each woman in the group to ask questions about loading, unloading and clearing a potentially loaded gun. The instructor brought in various firearms, ranging from an AR-15 to a shot gun to a revolver.
We also headed to the gun range where we were able to test out various rifle calibers. It was cool to shoot bolt action and lever action rifles, which are something I’m not the most comfortable with. After all, I’m a pistol kind of gal.
And, out of all of the things we got to experience, trap shooting was my favorite. It’s something I had never done before but really enjoyed. I totally understand people’s adrenaline rush now. Especially when you yell, “PULL!” and are waiting for the clay.
What made the trap experience even more fun: my friend shot a gun for the first time after a childhood experience that left her scarred and afraid of firearms.
Having opportunities and classes like this is ABSOLUTELY critical for women. Learning skills and tips from other women is not only beneficial but empowering. Going into classes that are for women, taught by women, allows participants to learn, make mistakes and grow. We're able to get one-on-one tips and advice on what works the best for our body types and muscle memory, something that men aren't always knowledgable about.
If you have a woman in your life who is contemplating joining the shooting sports or becoming an outdoors woman, encourage her to take a class or a clinic like this. She'll be empowered to continue to improve and she's likely to introduce other women to this lifestyle.