By Joseph P. Tartaro,
At the most recent Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in January, the owner of several high end sporting goods stores stopped by the Second Amendment Foundation booth to discuss Women & Guns magazine, and revealed that he is currently redesigning his stores to be at least 50 percent “women friendly.” His plan to appeal to this amazingly fast growing segment of the shooting sports market was not so surprising given the release of remarkable new data in a survey released just a few weeks earlier this year. The survey measured trends in women’s participation in the shooting sports, trends that are important to the gun industry, but also as a measure of how women spend their recreational time as well as their discretionary income.
The sample survey was of more than 2,600 women in a three-day period from a population of 76,890. The total number of women who completed this survey enabled Shoot Like A Girl t, Inc. to generalize the results to the entire population of women shooters.
According to the Executive Summary of the research titled Women in Shooting Sports, the survey included questions about the respondent’s participation in shooting bows, pistols, rifles and shotguns; hunting; and product preferences (product results were redacted). It asked questions about their memberships with clubs and organizations. The survey also asked respondents to give an explanation if they did not participate in a certain discipline, but wanted to.
A total of 2,643 responses from women were received, giving the data a 99% confidence level, with a 2.6% margin of error. The large sample size allowed Shoot Like A Girl to generalize the results to the total number of women who participate in shooting sports of 8,430,0001, as also reported by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry, which had conducted an earlier survey released in 2015.
Based on the new numbers, the current growth in participation since 2015 is:
• Archery participation by women —predominately in target shooting for fun and hunting, with a lesser percentage in league competitions—up 58%, from 2,884,000 to 4,566,531. Participating in all other organized archery competitions was less than 10 percent.
• Pistol participation by women—for personal protection and home protection and recreational target shooting given as the primary reason by between 77 percent and 90 percent— up 89%, from 3,884,000 to 7,345,059.
• Rifle participation by women was up 171%, from 2,433,000 to 6,613,335, with target shooting for fun leading at 82%, hunting at 69% and home protection at slightly more than 50% given as the main reasons for rifle ownership.
• Shotgun participation by women showed the highest rate of increase at 189%, from 1,996,000 to 5,771,178, with over 75% owning shotguns for target shooting for fun and almost 70% owning them for hunting. Slightly more owned shotguns for skeet shooting than for trap, both over 50% of the total.
• The survey found Hunting participation by women is up 57% from 3,445,000 to 5,425,548, with whitetail deer and turkey leading as the main quarries.
Shoot Like a Girl anticipates that this survey report will influence product development and marketing for shooting sports manufacturers and businesses to best meet the needs of the fastest growing demographic in shooting sports.
Astounding as this new survey may be too many readers, it is the latest reflection of the number of women becoming increasingly comfortable in a world once heavily dominated by male interests and tastes. The earlier study and report by NSSF, conducted in 2014, had already discovered the growing trend to of more women owning guns, going target shooting and hunting.
The new study is evidence that women’s interest in the shooting sports is no mere flash in the pan.
Among the earlier report’s findings:
•The most commonly owned firearm by women in the study is a semiautomatic pistol, with 56 percent of women reporting they owned at least one. Shotguns ranked second, with 50 percent of women owning at least one.
•Women say their purchases are mainly influenced by fit, quality and practicality.
•Women purchasing a gun in the last 12 months spent on average $870 on firearms and more than $400 on accessories.
•The majority of women report they are not driven to buy a gun on impulse but rather considered their purchase for months before deciding.
•Nearly all women (95 percent) have tried target shooting, and more than half (58 percent) have hunted.
•More than 42 percent of women have a concealed carry permit for their state of residence.
•Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of women reported having taken at least one training class.
Placing a premium on safety, women say the single most important reason why they decided to purchase or own a firearm is protection—both personal and home protection. Learning to hunt and going shooting with friends and family were also cited.