The hunting and shooting “industry” (code for manufacturers, lodges, outfitters, trainers, marketers and writers like me who make money off hunting and shooting) suddenly loves women.
Women’s clothing, women’s rifles, women’s shotguns, women’s handguns, women’s shooting classes and women-only hunts… Everyone is catering to women.
Good. We should have been doing that all along.
The simple truth is that soft, gentle, nurturing women are what they’ve always been: natural born hunters. Sure they’ve been pigeon-holed as gatherers, cooks and homemakers by various cultures, but like every other mother carnivore, women have the instinct to hunt, to procure protein for their babies. Naturally. Feeding your offspring is the ultimate definition of “nurturing.”
This drives anti-hunters and anti-gunners crazy. They prefer that women remain docile, insulated, uninformed and afraid of firearms. They want to prevent women from realizing, let alone celebrating, their hunting heritage. They want mothers to inculcate their children to the same subservient philosophy. But today’s free-thinking and independent women are having none of that. They want to shoot. They want to hunt. They do shoot. They do hunt, as this video dramatizes.
The result of such passionate demand from women has made them the fastest growing demographic in hunting and shooting. While many can work comfortably with guns designed for the “average” male, the majority perform better with slightly modified products that better fit the “average” smaller frames of females. Smaller hands need smaller grips. Shorter arms need shorter stocks. Lighter physiques appreciate reduced recoil. Longer necks work better with higher combs. Gun makers like Savage and Mossberg tailor inexpensive rifles to better fit women.
In footwear and clothing, proper fit is an even bigger deal. Women don’t appreciate stumbling about in dad’s oversized pants and parka anymore than I appreciate squeezing into Mom’s sweaters. Yet that’s what they’ve had to suffer the last hundred years or so. Today, thanks to innovative brands like Prois, our wives, girlfriends, daughters, sisters, aunts and moms can wear not only hunting clothing that fits and looks good, but is made from today’s most functional fabrics. Fleece, Gore-Tex, merino wool. Base layers, hydrophobic insulation layers, waterproof breathable layers. Hoods, cargo pockets, gaiters and zip legs.
Boot makers like LOWA don’t just build footwear in smaller sizes for women, they build them on women’s-specific lasts (forms) that better capture the average shape of women’s feet. A quick perusal of the 2016 LOWA catalog reveals 26 different boots built around a women’s last.
Despite — or perhaps because of — all this focus on women hunters, shooting classes like FTW Ranch are popping up like espresso shops. So are “women specific” hunting camps. Donna McDonald, herself a woman, hosts Women in the Wilderness training focused on tracking, spotting, calling, hiking, horse riding, field shooting and more. A finalist in the Prois Woman Hunter awards, McDonald, a lifelong ranch girl, grew up with one foot in the forest, the other on the range. She’s been camping, hunting and guiding all her life and she eagerly shares her knowledge with other women, young and old, during a weeklong August backcountry training camp in the mountains of Montana. In October and November she and other women guides lead women on deer and elk hunts. At the risk of sounding sexist, men need not apply. They can hunt with other guides at Upper Canyon Ranch. (Actually, women are welcome to team up with male hunters or guides if they want. It’s just that some prefer the camaraderie and low pressure of hunting with other women.)
If you’re a woman who hunts or wants to hunt — or if you’re a man who understands how important women are to the maintenance and advancement of hunting and shooting — share your views on social media. Share this blog and the Aim video links. Spread the word. Help the world understand that women hunt and shoot, too, and we welcome them with open arms.
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