Wednesday, October 30, 2013
We’ve mentioned in this column before that women are one of the fastest growing
groups in shooting sports.
Why, all of a sudden it seems, are women finally discovering shooting?
So, I decided to find out. One day recently, I rolled on down to East End Rod and Gun Club in Milton-Freewater, where I had been invited to come talk about women’s shooting with Stacy Alexander-Fulgham, the founder of the Washington State chapter of A Girl and A Gun Shooting League.
When I arrived at the gun club, a large banner was neatly and conspicuously displayed in front, letting everybody know that the girls and their guns were there, in force.
The handguns were neatly arranged on a table, all made safely inoperable by red zip-strips. Targets were already up, and the range safety officer was letting everyone know that “the range is hot.”
It was clear that these women came to shoot.
There were dead zombies, bad guys, and other paper targets everywhere, suddenly perforated by several women who had obviously done this before. When the smoke cleared, Alexander-Fulgham and I went outside to talk about women, shooting and her new shooting league.
Most of my preconceived notions of why women shoot were wrong. Heretofore, I’d been under the impression that most women were flocking to women’s shooting to learn self defense techniques.
That element was there, for sure, but it was pretty far down the list of things these women hoped to accomplish. In fact, only a handful of the shooters on hand even had concealed carry permits.
Camaraderie seemed the most general response to my question, “Why do you shoot?”
One woman said that she liked the no-pressure atmosphere, loved working on her shooting skills, and looked forward to one day participating in some competitions.
Alexander-Fulgham said there are burgeoning opportunities for shooting matches with A Girl and a Gun, as well as with groups like the National Rifle Association.
One shooter said shooting was invigorating and addictive — I get the addictive part alright.
Another said that she just liked converting money to noise. No doubt about that, while shooting doesn’t have to be expensive, it’s definitely noisy. Yet another said that she was much more comfortable coming out here as a new shooter, when she knew she would be among women only.
Alexander-Fulgham told me that their group welcomes new shooters all the time, and has a new shooter learning program that gently breaks them in using low-recoil .22 caliber handguns.
There were women of all ages present on the range. Alexander-Fulgham said that while she had hoped more young women would join, she was pleased that about 20 percent of their group were under 35.
But they shared one common theme: they appreciated having a place to learn how to shoot without having to rely on men.
“Men just want you to do it a certain way,” one shooter said. “Here, I can do it my way, and find out how other women do it.”
After some thought on my part, I began to recognize that message as something I had heard before. Some ideas take a moment to sink in.
I guess what I really learned from my talk with Alexander-Fulgham and her friends is that women come out to shoot for exactly the same reasons that men do — it’s fun!
While different people get different things from their shooting experiences, it’s clear now as never before that the shooting sports are definitely a family affair.
For more information on “A Girl and A Gun,” contact Stacy Alexander-Fulgham by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck, and good shooting!
Bob Bloch is the Secretary-Treasurer of the Walla Walla Gun Club and a member of the East End Rod and Gun Club in Milton-Freewater. He can be reached at email@example.com.