For the past several years, the NSSF Shot Show has held a press conference to present the latest on women’s involvement in the shooting sports and industry in general. The first year the topic was presented, it was revealed there were more presenters at the podium than attendees; but certainly not any more. This year, it was standing room only! The room was packed with interest in the incredible increase in participation and buying power of gun owning women in the past year.
A comprehensive report was revealed by the NSSF with topics researched including everything from what women are buying, how much they are spending, whether or not training is important right down to how comfortable we feel at the gun counter. For those of us in the field, women who are involved in hunting and competitive shooting, as well as teaching, and outreach to increase accessibility to gun ownership to an ever increasing number of women, the new report brings no surprises.
The study is chock full of wonderful statistics based on a majority respondent profile of an educated, middle aged, married, Caucasian mother. Leading women in the shooting industry were consulted on the types of questions and topics that would reveal the true interest and involvement of today’s gun owning women.
The average women in the study owned a gun for at least five years, however a large proportion owned a gun for over ten years. A significant portion, about 30% of participants in the study became a gun owner in the past three years, showing a demographic change in female gun owners, since the newest gun owners are between 18-34 years of age. It does not come as a surprise that most women are still purchasing with the main purpose of self-defense and home protection, but more and more are seeing the social aspect of shooting with family and friends as important as well as an interest in learning to hunt.
Overall, women felt more confident and safe as gun owners and the fit and feel of a gun in their hand was extremely important. Guns are not typically an impulse purchase for women. According the study, 67.3% of women are spending at least a few months and up to a year choosing the right gun. And of special note to manufacturers, their research includes visiting the websites of manufacturers as one of the main sources of information in order to make that purchase.
The buying power of women is also significant as the study reveals that female gun owners spent an average of $870 on their first gun purchase in the last year and the majority are buying semi-automatic pistols. Women also spent an average of $405 on accessories in the past year, including items such as gun cleaning kits, targets and ear protection. The availability of feminine accessories was not a factor in gun purchases. When it comes to non-traditional colors and patterns on guns women either liked them or did not. There isn’t much gray area here. However if women specific accessories were available, such as holsters, grips and apparel, the study indicates that there would be a market for them among a select segment of women. And as women become more involved in hunting and shooting sports and begin to seek out guns and apparel that fit them better, about a quarter of the women polled said that they had trouble finding items that fit them.
One of the more interesting outcomes of the study reveals that women are seeking out training in high numbers. Almost three quarters of women have taken at least one training class whether it be a concealed carry class, hunters education or range safety instruction. And on average women continue to take around three gun training classes. In general, women are not buying a gun and a box of ammunition and throwing it in a drawer. The amount of training a woman participates in also has a correlation with how much women spend on guns and accessories. Not surprisingly, as women increase their confidence and knowledge of guns, they are willing and enthusiastic to become more involved in shooting activities. Women have a tremendous amount of buying power and this should be of significant interest to ranges with training programs and retail sales.
Certainly many women’s shooting clubs are already seeing this trend. At the Second Amendment Women Shooting Club (SAW), the NSSF research confirms what we already know, that women will seek out other women, will value training more, and spend more on a gun and accessories than those that don’t train. Our monthly port meet ups for women only are packed and our members are showing increased interest in advanced training, classes in gun cleaning, and assistance with well thought out and researched gun purchases. The research indicates that women respond positively to other women shooters. And that “women only events” will encourage some women to participate more frequently. We have certainly seen that trend.
We have all heard that women are the fastest growing segment in the firearms industry. Whether the introduction to firearms came through a family member, friend or some outside influence, we want to learn more, increase our confidence and get out there and have fun.. and we will do it safely.
(All statistics are from the NSSF Report – Women Gun Owners 2014 Edition)