Yes, we are complex individuals, but we bring a great deal of skill and challenge to the clubs in which we belong. The firearm and shooting world have grown and, as a result, has become a lot more diverse over the years.
There is a level of intimidation to newbies when confronted with a new piece or on their first time out to do some shooting. Then we have the “men’s club” of shooting where grandpa still doesn’t feel that women belong in the industry. Luckily, that archaic mindset is rapidly melting.
But even so, we still find that women are hesitant to take the safety courses and get their PAL’s. Why is this? Most have a fear of firearms that is directly related to one, or more, of three things: lack of education and knowledge, their significant other wants their shooting part of their life to themselves and the third is an instilled mindset that only men do the shooting. I’m here to dispel all of this for you and hopefully, you’ll be ready, and excited, to get out and get shooting.
Stats on Women in Shooting Sports
- In 2016, Team Canada sent two shooters to the Olympic Games. Both athletes were women: three-time Olympian Cynthia Meyer and Pan Am Games double gold medallist, Lynda Kiejko.
- There are 2.2 million licensed gun owners in Canada and thirteen percent of those are women which works out to be around 286,000 women in this great country that possess their PAL’s.
- There are organizations worldwide that promote women in shooting sports by providing educational materials, training, local club information and a sense of community that is fun and supportive for women at all levels and proficiencies.
- There has been an over 200% increase in activity and firearm ownership by women.
- The only government recognized body for sport shooting in Canada, Shooting Federation of Canada, has a female President that has resided over the organization for a few years.
Interview of a Canadian Female Shooter
We felt it was better to hear about women in shooting sports directly from a woman. We interviewed Maeve to get a better understanding of what it’s like to be a woman in the industry. Here is what she had to say.
Interviewer: How did you get involved in the firearms/shooting world?
Maeve: I used to see my Dad and Uncle go off to the range to shoot and they would always come back so excited about their shooting and what they were learning. Then I saw friends get into it as I got older. I’m dating a former Canadian Armed Forces member and he is so very passionate about firearms and hunting. I started to absorb the material and finally went and took my courses (Hunter safety, non-restricted and restricted PAL’s). I haven’t looked back!
Interviewer: If someone was on the fence about moving forward with certification and licensing, what would you tell her to help her understand what she is getting into?
Maeve: Omg! There is such an amazing community of women out there that want to have other women to shoot with! It’s such a supportive community and the skill sets that some of the more experienced women have are incredible. What’s even greater is that they are so open to helping you to succeed in whatever your goals may be. It’s a bit confusing for newcomers to the sport shooting world but there is ALWAYS someone to help you with whatever you want to achieve. There is a very serious responsibility that comes with being a firearm owner and shooter so it’s not something that should ever be taken lightly. Your learning will not stop at the end of the course either. Regulations change and its your responsibility to stay on top of that, or risk losing a lot more than just your PAL. But on the lighter side, you get to be part of a club of 2.2 million other Canadians that love to sport shoot as much as you do. There are also women only events that most gun clubs hold, and the registration fills up fast! Canada has around 1,400 gun ranges across the country so going somewhere that is safe to practice is very accessible…and so much fun!
Interviewer: There are a lot of heavy regulations for firearm owners. It can be a bit pricey to get to the point where you are fully licensed to start buying firearms. Do you need to spend this money just to try shooting and see if it’s something that you enjoy?
Maeve: Heavens no! If you have a friend or family member that holds a valid PAL for the type of firearm that you want to try, they can take you out to shoot. You must be under the direct supervision of someone that holds a valid permit or under the direct supervision of range staff. This is such a great way to get hooked on shooting! (laughs) It’s what pulled me in!
Interviewer: What are the different possible uses for firearms? Where are they most prominently used?
Maeve: Great question! With women, handgun use at certified ranges is where you’ll find firearms most prominently being used. However, there is an increasing number of women that are being brought up and introduced to hunting sports as well. With family hunting camps being passed down and attitudes changing, women are being asked to join more hunts as time goes on. It’s such a great way for men, women and families to enjoy vacation time together.
Interviewer: Thank you for your insight, Maeve. Is there anything else you’d like to say to women reading this out there? A final message?
Maeve: Yes. I want to encourage women everywhere to get out and try this amazing sport! There are so many different avenues that we can get involved in. Even if your husband or spouse or family members don’t want to help you, please, please, please, don’t shut down the idea of trying. Do some reading. Look up and find a local club and contact them. Ask them to pair you up with another female shooter. Talk to other shooters online. This is such an amazing community! We’re all here to help each other out. Never be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. We’ve got your back!