The Conversation

Women to Firearm Industry: It's a Good Start But...

Women are serious consumers of firearms and related merchandise and that fact is readily apparent at the SHOT Show .  I wrote about the multitude of guns targeted for the female consumer, but women are not only consumers of firearms they are also business owners in the industry.  Who better to talk to about the industry's new found appreciation for women's business than a woman business owner?

Dottie Nobles, owner of Shady Lady Shooting in green River Wyoming reports business has been great. "We did as much business [on the first day] of the show as we did the entire SHOT show last year. "  She went on to explain that the last two large trade shows have been big for her company, "because the guy buyers are going 'I guess we are going to have to do this.' "

When I asked her about all the pink and purple guns she told me "What they do is take their cheapest gun and make it pink, because it doesn't cost them any thing..the thought behind the marketing is so archaic,  the women's market is increasing 30% every year for the last five years. "

And I think Dottie is right. Small "cute" pink and purple guns may appeal to women who want a "pretty gun" or avoid a big scary black gun, but how does the gun shoot? Most of these "lady" guns are very small and concealable, which means they are very light. This kind of gun is going to kick like a mule, possibly dissuading its owner to practice shooting with it.  The nastiest gun I ever shot was a S&W LadySmith, I think it almost broke my wrist. No thanks. 

But looking at the usual options for conceal carry, there are a variety of gender-specific issues women face: grips are made for larger male hands and it is hard to reach the magazine drop and the safety (if there is one.)  These are more important matters than what color the gun is. 

Similarly, women are limited if they want enjoy a shooting sport. The message right now is, "here is your pink conceal gun, ma'am," but women have larger barriers to enter the recreational shooting community.  Purchasing a regular gun, maybe a 1911, women are going to have the kind of issues I mentioned above. Forget picking up a shotgun or a rifle off the shelf, your stock is going to be too long and your length of pull is going to be a problem.  Any woman who walks into a range, picks up a shotgun to try and shoot some clay is going to get cold-cocked once she pulls the trigger. She might not come back again, which is unfortunate since getting people to go out and shoot is a big part of the battle for growing the industry. 

So we have a good start gun manufacturers, ladies are looking forward to even more from you. 


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