By Paul Anderson, Shotgun Life
A few months ago I sent out a newsletter for Detail Company Adventures, in which we delivered the destination hunting trips offered by our new Big Game/Fishing consultant, Larysa Switlyk. The newsletter is not what I want to talk about today; the replies I received are the real story.
Replies such as, “is this a hook up service” or “if you think a pretty girl is going to make me want to buy anything…” some just plainly said, “remove me from your database” came flooding in from customers and outfitters alike, many of whom were disgusted by the fact that we added this woman to our staff. As it turns out, Detail Company Adventures has been a woman-owned business for over 30 years, but now they suddenly take offense? Why is that? Why must some men feel threatened or even angry because a woman chooses to hunt or shoot, and succeeds? While yes the saying “haters are gonna hate” is certainly true, I believe there is a deeper issue that needs to be addressed.
Women are the fastest growing segment of any outdoor activity, and guys better get used to it. In all aspects of shooting, you see more and more brands and manufacturers catering directly or exclusively to women. Recently, I attended an all ladies sporting clays shoot at Joshua Creek Ranch in Texas Hill Country sponsored by two women’s sporting lines: Syren Shotguns and McKenna Quinn, a ladies sporting apparel line, whose shoulder pad shirt is perfect for the high-volume shooter.
While at the shoot I was given the opportunity to visit with women from all walks of life. After the weekend I came to the conclusion that women are not only changing the face of hunting, they are redefining the masculine view of hunting and hunters. I realized the future of hunting in general would be in financial danger without the increased involvement of women in the field. If we truly want to preserve this sport that we claim to love so much, we must involve more women. While at the Ladies shoot I asked Amber Haynes of McKenna Quinn, what is your advice to new female participants:
Q: “The number of women who enjoy the outdoors is the fastest growing segment of our hunting and fishing heritage. What’s the first piece of advice you would give to a new participant?”
A: “Yes, it is the fastest growing piece, and the best part is this isn’t a new trend and it’s not slowing down! Women from all walks of life are doing amazing things in the fields and streams. In all of their accomplishments I have yet to meet one or read of one who doesn’t deeply desire to share their passion with others. My advice to ladies would be to jump in, ask questions and don’t be intimated to enjoy the outdoors in your own way and at your own pace. The first few upland hunts I attended I took a camera not a gun. I wasn’t comfortable yet with a gun but I wanted to see what a true hunt was like. I was blown away by the beauty of the hunt, the dogs, the terrain, the sounds, the smells − it truly ignited a passion I didn’t know I had, and when I was ready to bring a gun, I felt confident in knowing what to expect.”
This is good advice for any new hunter, but is particularly relevant to a new female hunter: do it your way, and in your own time. But most importantly, get out and do it. If you’re an accomplished shooter or hunter, male or female, invite someone new next time you go; be a mentor for that person. It’s our duty as people of the hunting heritage to pass this heritage along. We are ambassadors, every single one of us, and I implore you to keep that in mind, and be the best ambassador you can possibly be.
When asked “What do you see as the biggest hurdle for women to get started in shotgun sports?” Cathrine Kruse, owner of Ladies Night Out Texas, a women’s group dedicated to getting women outdoors had this to say…
“Access to information and individuals catered to help people, specifically women, to get started. It is a very intimidating sport and for the inexperienced firearms in the wrong hands, are used to harm people which alone makes them scary and intimidating.”
Valid points indeed! I then asked…
“What, in your opinion can we do as a community to remove these obstacles?”
Cathrine’s response says a lot…
“That is why I created Ladies Night Out Texas. I wanted to bridge the gap between women that have been raised hunting and shooting, like myself, to those who have never shot anything besides a dirty look. I advise any female interested in getting started to check out National Shooting Sports Foundation’s website. They have access to a ton of information catered to beginners and where to start. Also, social media is so prominent now, there are a ton of different women led groups, like myself, that would welcome any beginner!”
A lady named Anne Kania, from the Joy of Hunting, has a great story that gives me hope. She was prejudiced against hunting and is now a well-respected member of the hunting industry. She was never really around hunting until later in life. Can you imagine if a friend had reached out or she’d have found her passion for shotguns at a younger age? The moral is to change someone’s life, you have to get them out there: it’s our duty.
Another serious aspect of women shooting, hunting or fishing is the recognition they receive. While a man may feel comfortable talking about shooting among men they don’t know, many women can’t or don’t feel they can talk freely. Amanda LaBat, one of Detail Company Adventures’ Wingshooting Consultants, and I have spoken quite a bit about this. Here are her thoughts on the subject:
“I think it’s more socially acceptable for men to hunt, and it is almost status quo. I feel that women who hunt and fish have to prove themselves more − almost break a barrier of belief that we can and do what men are capable of.”
Women are the future of shooting and rightfully so. These women are not secondary to men in the fight for the future of our shooting sports….they are the tip of the spear.
Paul Anderson is Vice President of Detail Company Adventures at http://detailcompany.com. If you have any questions or need some advice feel free to contact Paul at [email protected] or (800)292-2213.
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