Friday, February 17, 2006

Women in Shooting Sports

First, a personal news flash. Bill (Yosemite Sam) and I attend a bullseye pistol league every Thursday. I’ve written about those days when I could barely hit the target, those bad days. Yesterday though was a good day. Everything came together and I blew past my average by over 40 points. It’s a good feeling when one shoots well. Nothing quite like it. There, that’s the end of my news flash. Back to real blogging.

I’ve talked about women in shooting and hunting more than once (here’s a sample). I come by my interest honestly because I’m a woman who shoots and hunts and I’ve been shooting since I was eight years old. During many of those long years, I’ve been an anomaly on occasion—the only woman on the firing line, in the duck blind, on a trap field. Even now, I’m still the only woman in my bullseye league and I still don’t see that many women in cami clothes in November.

But things are changing for the better as shown in The Cleveland Plain Dealer's “Outdoors Notebook,” which is a compendium of short news items about the outdoors. This edition, includes a blurb confirming that women are hunting or shooting. Here’s the entire text that deals with the topic:
Women's numbers growing in outdoors
February 17, 2006
D'Arcy Egan
Plain Dealer Columnist

Women are in the hunting industry's spotlight these days.

The numbers of women who hunt or shoot has jumped in recent years, said Christine Godleski, vice president and general manager of ESPN Outdoors. She was attending the National Shooting Sports Foundation's annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show last week in Las Vegas.

Participation has increased from 4.2 million to 6.3 million between 1999 and 2004, said Godleski. She predicts the growth will continue as television shows, magazines and grassroots programs cater to women in the outdoors.

'It's the grassroots initiatives and volunteers that encourage women to go out and try it,' said Godleski. She pointed to women's programs that range from the National Wild Turkey Federation's Women in the Outdoors to the National Rifle Association's Women on Target and the Becoming an Outdoorswoman program, which is hosted by the Ohio Division of Wildlife."

As a female shooter you can’t imagine how happy this makes me. Finally I’ll have sisters on the firing line. I’ll have someone to chatter with in the duck blind. I’ll be able to compare trap shooting techniques with someone who knows what it’s like to have a shotgun’s recoil hammer a bra strap into your shoulder.

But, there’s something else that makes me happy. Attracting women and children to the shooting sports is our future. We must pass on our skills and passions for shooting to our children and their children and on down the line. Women constitute slightly over half of the population. We can’t alienate or ignore them. Women in shooting and hunting will add to our political clout and help us stop anti-gunnies. If we don't we will lose our cherished rights.

So, take a woman shooting. Buy her a gun (like Bill did for me last Christmas). Take your daughter out and make sure she knows how to shoot safely and well.

Let’s also not forget to take a woman or daughter hunting. I know that guys want to be by themselves sometimes (I admit there are times I crave the company of women). Get over it. Women have a place in the hunting camp too. You can always schedule a poker night so you can be with the guys (whoops, never mind).

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