A few weeks back I had the pleasure of spending some time on the 50 yard line with a few of the very lovely and talented Gotham City Cheerleaders, (aka the unofficial cheerleaders for the New York Football Giants). However, it wasn’t the usual 50 yard line associated with cheerleaders. We were on the 50 yard line of an indoor shooting range. Yeah, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it, and you can’t deny how perfectly this fits into my AR series! (In case you were too distracted by the pretty smiles and pom-poms, two of the young ladies in the picture are holding AR-15 rifles.)
The picture above was taken when I attended a breast cancer charity event hosted by Gun For Hire at the Woodland Park Range. It had all the makings of a Bond movie, (X Ring, Inside The X Ring), it was for a good cause, and it was a great time!
However, it got me thinking more broadly about women with guns, and their participation in shooting sports.
Mom’s a Dead-Eye
It started for Mom and Dad well before I was born, but from the time I was five, target shooting was a family activity. My Dad is a retired New Jersey State Trooper, and as one of the tools of his trade, guns were in the house. It was a responsibility he took seriously, so he wanted Mom and me to know how to safely and properly use a gun, for all of the reasons you can imagine. (For me at the time, at the age of 5, it was more about, hey, real guns are NOT toys, they are extremely powerful. There is a right way and a wrong way to handle them. There are certain things you never do with a real gun. This firearms education and experience eliminated any natural curiosity, and gave me a healthy respect for guns.)
Anyway, we spent many a memorable day at the range, shooting as a family, and sometimes with other families: kids, Moms, Dads ‘n all. These trips taught very valuable skills, instilled safe shooting practices and were overall good practical exercises. They taught responsibility and built confidence. (See that, shooting guns can be a wholesome family activity.) Family trips to the shooting range are fond memories from my childhood. I remember well how much fun and how exciting those days were.
The other thing I remember from those trips is that man, my Mom can shoot!! While I’m sure some of it is a function of my Dad’s training and instruction, to her own credit, Mom is a Dead-Eye. She’s always been, and remains, a great shot with a gun. Something I’ve always thought was pretty awesome!
Females & Firearms, a Rising Trend
In case you haven’t realized, more women than ever before are getting into guns and the shooting sports. It’s a welcome trend that I fully support, and I’m happy to see. Just so you know I’m not blowing smoke….
- Here’s a 2011 Today article from stating that an estimated 15 to 20 million American women own guns.
- From 2001 to 2011 the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has seen a 51.5 percent increase in female participation in target shooting and 41.8 percent increase in female participation in hunting, according to the National Sporting Goods Association’s annual sports participation report.
- The NSSF also reported that gun-store owners reported a 73 percent increase in female customers between 2010 and 2011.
- An October 2011 Gallup poll reported that 43 percent of women polled reported having a gun in their house, a record high since 1993.
- Here’s a November 2013 Fox News article on women hunters.
When you think about it, this trend shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Why the Rise…
Let’s face it, knowing how to properly handle and shoot a gun is a great, and very important skill. (I think it’s something everyone should learn, and learn at an early age. If so, there would likely be fewer gun accidents, especially those involving children who are naturally curious.) So as men and women of all ages, and from all walks of life strive to become more independent and more self-reliant, learning how to shoot a gun is high on the list. Also, as people get bored with the same-old, same-old, prepackaged activities and look for something more adventurous, many are learning just how challenging, fun, exciting and stress relieving target shooting can be.
Additionally, and even though I started this post focusing on the social and recreational aspects of shooting, you’d be remiss not to acknowledge the practical applications of self and home defense.
There’s an old saying, ’God made men. Sam Colt made them equal’. The gun is The Great Equalizer, and as eloquently stated in an article by that very name, “Firearms reduce the power differential between the weak and the strong, making it harder for the strong to prey upon the weak.” And while it’s not pleasant to think of anyone in such a situation, there are those who believe a gun is the best way for a woman to defend herself in a worst-case scenario. (This assumes she knows how to properly use her gun and is well practiced.)
Combine that knowledge with the fact that in the United States of America since 2008:
- There have been unprecedented and unrelenting attacks on the Second Amendment.
- The economy has been and remains in a protracted state of uncertainty.
- There is record, or near record, prolonged unemployment across many parts of the Country.
- State and local budgets are strapped, potentially impacting local law enforcement.
- Illegal drug use, and/or legal drugs used illegally remain ongoing issues, with use of new, scary drugs like Meth, Bath Salts and Krokodil potentially on the rise.
Simply put, there are potentially more bad guys, or more increasingly desperate people willing to do bad things for their own survival, or people under the influence of dangerous substances, with potentially fewer good guys around. At the same time some of our most basic, core, fundamental, near-and-dear American Constitutional Rights are seriously threatened. It’s a toxic combination.
Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that legal gun ownership spiked in 2008, spiked again in 2012, and continues to rise significantly today. Nor should it be a surprise that as women specifically strive to become more and more independent and self-reliant, many of those gun purchasers are women.
In-line with what you’d expect from the number of women purchasing firearms, the number of women enrolling in firearms training, and those applying for concealed carry permits are also significantly on the rise. Again, these are trends I’m very happy to see.
I’ve also noticed that many women in shooting are great shots, just like my Mother. I think it’s fair to say that among many other wonderful qualities, most women are blessed with high levels of patience and focus. These two traits are likely what make many women naturals on the range.
Famous Females in the Shooting World
While we’re on the subject, and while I’m sure there are others, here are a few famous females in the Shooting World:
Il Ling New – Gunsite Academy instructor who was also recently profiled on NRA Women TV’s ‘New Energy’ series. A good family friend and his wife have taken an annual trip to Gunsite Academy for the last 10 years or so, where Il Ling New has been their instructor. From what I’m told, she’s not only a phenomenal instructor, but she is quite the Bad Ass; every bit the real deal you’d expect to be instructing at a facility like Gunsite.
Here are some friends of Inside The X Ring that run sites and YouTube channels dedicated to women in the shooting sports:
So, Annie, grab your gun, and go ahead ladies, strike your best Charlie’s Angel’s pose. (Just make sure you always follow those safety rules!!)
…and in case you’re wondering, right after the photo shoot, those Gotham City Cheerleaders sent rounds downrange with the very same ARs used in the picture, and they had a great time doing it!!
Sincere and Special Thanks to Anthony Colandro, of Gun For Hire & the Woodland Park Range, and to the Gotham City Cheerleaders.
The Woodland Park Range & Gun For Hire – The Woodland Park Range is a 5 Star indoor shooting facility located “15 minutes from almost anywhere in Northern NJ, and just 12 miles outside NYC.” To just call this place just a range would be an insult! Gun For Hire is a premier firearms and self defense training institute. Look for an upcoming, in depth post on this great facility.
Gotham City Cheerleaders – Currently the unofficial Cheerleaders for the New York Football Giants, these girls are looking to make it official. If you’ve been to a Giants home game lately, you’ve no doubt seen them strutting their stuff and showing off their talents outside the stadium. Check ‘em out here, and while you’re at it, pick up their “All In, New York”, 2014 calendar.
Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!