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Women in the Shooting Sports

Annie O RS

In just twelve years there was a 9% increase in the number of hunters who were women, going from 10 percent in 2001 to 19 percent in 2013. In numbers, that means while there were 1.8 million women hunters in 2001 there are now 3.3 million in 2013, an increase of 85%. Wow! There was also a significant increase in women target shooters. While 3.3 million women participated in target shooting in 2001, there were 5.4 million in 2013, increasing their participation by a whopping 60%. Of those 5.4 million target shooters, forty-three percent of them go shooting once a month or more. Of that total number, 73% of them have taken at least one firearms training class in their chosen discipline.

Now let’s looking at their buying habits and translate that into some economic factors. Retailers participating in the survey indicated that nearly 20% of their shooting and hunting related sales were to women, up fifteen percent from 2010. And what are women buying? The three most popular firearms in order are: semi-auto pistol, revolver, and shotgun. That is consistent with their primary reasons for owning a gun which are self/home defense, learning how to shoot, and to go shooting with friends and family. And it appears women aren’t just price shoppers. The three factors that most influence gun selection for them in order are fit, quality, and practicality. Listen up guys! There is something more important that low price! Because the survey shows women spend an average of $870 annually on firearms and $405 annually on accessories. The top accessories purchased are: gun cleaning products, targets, ear protection, carrying cases, and eye protection.

Many gun shops are missing the boat on this market thinking women only want a pink gun to carry in their purse. In our experience at the store, women are thoughtful shoppers and dedicated shooters. Not only that, they are good at it. I’ve taught women sporting clays, and they pick it up quick and love busting targets. Women are here to stay in the hunting and shooting sports, and we are better off for it.

The NC WRC just released their report of hunting incidents and fatalities from the 2013-2014 hunt season. We did pretty good last year with only two hunting fatalities and 31 non-fatal accidents for a total of 33 which is slightly up from the previous season’s total of 29 but well below the trending average around 40 per year. One of the fatalities was firearm related when a hunter tried to remove a shotgun from behind the seat barrel first and a loose tool got inside the trigger guard discharging the firearm. All sorts of mistakes made there. The other is an apparent fall from a tree stand where the hunter was not strapped in. Both tragic fatalities by people who did not follow basic safety rules taught in Hunter Education classes. Speaking of which, and it may be related to the above report about women hunters, we are seeing a steady increase in the number of students certified for Hunter Safety. This year nearly 27,000 hunters were certified and the trend has been moving up by about two thousand each year for the last few years.

Goose season ends this Saturday, Feb 7. I continue my obsession next year. For now a little small game hunting to do and maybe take in a little trout fishing. Reports from Curtis Wright Outfitters indicate the Delayed Harvest waters and Davidson are providing pretty good fishing right now. There is no rush to get to the streams because there aren’t many anglers out there right now and fishing is best at mid-day when the water warms up a little bit. Popular dry flies are Skinny Nelson, Hare’s Ear, Black Elk Hair, and drop down under water with a black Wooly Bugger. Give it a try!

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