by Amanda Suffecool
It’s a matter of confidence; addressing the NSSF’s Women’s study, with my thoughts and considerations.
As I sat and read over the 2014 National Shooting Sports Foundation’s study of women and guns, (which in my opinion should’ve been titled, “What Women Want”, but instead was titled “Women Gun Owners – Purchasing, Perception and Participation”), I had the thought “what does this data mean? Why?”, it came to me. Overall, It’s a matter of CONFIDENCE.
The data I am speaking of shows that a woman who has taken training is more likely to buy a gun, buy gear, and to participate in the shooting sports. It says that she is likely to spend $1.75 for every dollar her sister shooter is going to spend that year. In my opinion, the study is pretty impressive, and comprehensive and worthy of time spent reading it over and drawing your own theories of what it all means.
As a woman who is an Engineer, who is very mechanically minded, who rides a motorcycle, drives a stick shift, and teaches women how to shoot in my spare time, I know how I approach something new; I need to understand. To understand the
what, the why, and the rules of engagement, and the rules of success on anything new that I approach. I need to gain an understanding, and then a skill, and then a comfort with that skill. And then once I do it with comfort, I can repeat it with confidence.
I do much of my shooting, in addition to my radio show about shooting, with my brother. This summer we agreed to tackle two things on our bucket lists. He picked one and I picked another and we agreed for both of us to do each. I selected participating in USPSA pistol shooting, while he selected shooting at the National Matches at Camp Perry. To me, USPSA sounded like fun, the National Matches – that sounded official and terrifying. But a pick was a pick, a promise was a promise.
USPSA was easy, pistols are my natural go-to firearm, and we went with friends who showed us the ropes. First game, we brought old gear dug out of the closet, that in no way looked like anyone else’s gear there, but allowed us to shoot. Over time, we started to understand why you needed those fancy belts (they are stiff and make drawing from the holster quicker) and the mag holders (so that you can easily access the one of 5 magazines you need for the game). The first event or two your whole concentration is on safety and not getting disqualified and not doing anything stupid. Over time, and with coaching, the focus of the game shifted to strategy and planning.
On the other hand, shooting rifles at the National Matches continued to be scary as heck. I am not a rifle shooter by natural inclination, so it was all pretty new to me. Rob was completely comfortable with the firearm, the positions, and most of what was going on. I had to stand back, watch, listen, learn, and then I had to touch, handle and execute. All with the purpose of understanding what was expected and how I could do it safely.
With each position and exchange, I needed to gain an understanding, and then a skill, and then a comfort with that skill. And then once I did it with comfort, I could do it with confidence. And with confidence, you want to continue to do it. You have fun. You work on skills. You are focused but you’re not so focused that you don’t have a good time at the same time.
Camp Perry was fun. I got over the fear, and Yes, we will be doing it again next year. Maybe I can convince my brother to try pistol shooting at the National Matches.
So, back to the NSSF Women’s Study. One of the things that came out of rereading the study was that women who had training bought more gun related items. Which came first: the training, or the purchases? I think the order was like this: 1) interest, 2) training, 3) confidence, 4) go back for more.
Ladies, in any hobby, strive for the confidence to do a good job and have a good time. Then it becomes an enjoyable hobby, a remarkable skill, and social interaction with all your friends where you can share your knowledge, and they can share theirs. We are gun gals, we like it, we promote it, and we have a great time doing it. Have fun, shoot safely, and above all approach each new thing with Confidence.