“For the gun industry, women are the next big thing… Gun industry courts women with pink guns.” These are just a few headlines that have appeared in the news lately. The rise of women in the shooting sports industry has been a popular topic recently, as female participation in the sport continues to increase.
Recent numbers from the NSSF stated that nearly 80% of gun retailers reported an increase in female customers in 2012. In Florida, 22% of the concealed carry permits are held by women. In Texas, women hold 28% of concealed carry permits, up sevenfold in the last 10 years.
According to the NSSF, the women’s market is a very real one, and it is growing, untapped, and undeveloped. The retailer who meets the demand for specialized equipment will find a group of enthusiastic, supportive buyers as well as loyal customers. The industry has already seen an increase in businesses servicing this demographic as more products are released with women in mind. Custom gun cases, smaller frame pistols, accessories dressed up with bling or pink, all of these products are created to target the female market.
Some marketers have the philosophy that the products need to be pink or glitter to attract women, while others are focusing more on the gun design or an increase in friendliness and customer service. While one idea or product might not be appealing to 100 percent of women, they can all find something to appreciate in the industry’s new initiative to tailor products to their wants and needs. In turn, most businesses and organizations are discovering women are a driving force in the industry, and listening to them yields positive results.
Many shooting ranges across the country have weekly ladies nights or host chapters of women’s gun clubs. One shooting range owner said 47 percent of his customers are women. He says women are a large part of the sport’s growing population, and it’s important their opinions are heard and they are taken care of.
Organizations have also been created to advocate women’s participation in shooting sports. Many of them have Facebook and Twitter accounts with a large following and relevant content. For most of these organizations, education and empowerment are the driving purposes. Karen Butler, founder of Shoot Like a Girl, realized the number of women involved in the shooting sports was growing, but felt like there were still factors limiting a woman’s development in the sport. Butler felt like there needed to be more opportunities for women to try equipment that fit in a safe environment. Shoot Like a Girl is just one example of the many organizations that have given women a voice and a place within the shooting sports industry.
As the shooting sports industry continues to grow, women look to be a key factor in the sport’s constant development. The retailers and businesses that see women as a valuable sector of their customer base will find new growth and a group of customers who want to be educated and skillful in shooting sports.
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