8 Ways To Retain Women
& Encourage Growth


Nearly half of new gun buyers continue to be women. This has been an increasing trend for years now, and although we anticipate seeing more female gun owners, you should never take them for granted. Just like anything in life, it can be here today and gone tomorrow.

So how do we retain current female clients and encourage more growth in this fast-growing demographic? It doesn’t mean including free tampons in the bathroom or setting out chocolates on the gun counter; although it’s a nice gesture, there are more important factors to create a welcoming atmosphere. Women aren’t that difficult to please when it comes to firearms and training; we just need a little encouragement, and in the end, just want to feel comfortable and confident.

1. Introduce Yourself!

For many first-time buyers, purchasing a firearm or taking a gun-training class can be intimidating. We live in the age of the internet: 90% of your customers are going to find you on Google and research you before giving you their business, especially when it comes to something foreign to them.

Therefore, it’s imperative to portray a friendly and welcoming environment even online. Invest in a decent website and use a lot of pictures. Introduce yourself and your staff with an “About Us” section that states what your mission is and include quick bios about you and the staff.

You also want to take advantage of social media. Post pictures and videos weekly, which can be something as simple as a quick educational video from one of the employees, a sale or even a photo of the shop dog customers will soon get to know.

Small, friendly depictions of the business like this will help potential customers get to know you before they even walk through the door.

As for current customers, it will help continue the relationship they already have with you, and just like marketing 101, you don’t want them to forget about you. Pop up in their newsfeeds and show them what’s new with the business, show off cool new inventory and advertise sales or training opportunities.

2. The Atmosphere.

As I mentioned, you don’t have to offer feminine products to appease the ladies — keep a clean atmosphere. Parts of the business can of course portray a rugged outdoor-style environment. We might be a little thrown off if it’s feminine and colorful, but it should always remain clean.

A stale-smelling man cave isn’t welcoming for women, especially if your shop only has one restroom. This should go without saying, but take pride in your business and its appearance — which may mean a thorough cleaning often.

Perhaps go the extra mile and create a comfortable ambiance with a sitting area or offer a refreshments area. Make it feel more like a welcoming community so customers aren’t anxious to get in and out. In general, the more time customers spend in the store — even just chatting — leads to more business.

3. Diversify Your Staff.

As much as we all love the older gentlemen behind the gun counter, we need to mix things up a bit. The face of gun owners is changing. Expand employment, including your instructors, to younger generations, women and different ethnicities. This opens the opportunity for customers to relate to their instructor or salesperson more.

At times, women might feel talked down to by a salesman or reluctant to ask a question for the fear of looking dumb. The same goes for men who are new to gun ownership and might be put off by someone who comes across as egotistical or a know-it-all. This is often eliminated when they share more in common with the person helping them. More than ever, women are working at gun stores and ranges, and they’ve proved to be a huge asset.

4. Offer Very Basic Classes.

The NRA’s Basic Pistol Class is eight hours long. Though it’s informative, this can be overwhelming for someone who’s never held a gun before. Not to mention, the human brain loses concentration well before eight hours.

What about offering a class that outlines the very basics to get someone’s feet wet? Teach them safety fundamentals — how to load and unload a firearm and proper shooting techniques. Then bring them to the range and have them shoot larger handguns chambered in smaller calibers.

Kerry Slone, founder of We The Female, shared, “Many women in my firearms fundamentals classes don’t own a firearm yet. They want to have a basic understanding of firearms to find what they’re comfortable with, but also to not be as intimidated when going to a gun store to make their first firearm purchase.”

This experience will build a student’s interest and confidence. It gives them a solid foundation to work with as they make their first purchase and take other classes. 

”Women aren’t that difficult to please when it comes to firearms and training; we just need a little encouragement, and in the end, just want to feel comfortable and confident.“

Camaraderie and smiles on the range will increase the likelihood of repeat visits to your facility.

5. Advertise Real-World Scenarios.

Historically, women have relied on the man of the household for protection, which is why many women don’t see a need to purchase a firearm and take up training. Today, many women are now the head of the household and even if they aren’t, this doesn’t mean they won’t be put in a situation where they might have to protect themselves and their family. We need to emphasize this to give women a reason to purchase a gun and train with it.

Offering real-world applications that involve home protection, safety procedures with children and creating the best plan if there’s an intruder are great options to encourage women to take the next step. Also, beyond the self-defense aspect, more women are enjoying shooting sports. Consider hosting women’s shooting events if you have the facilities or provide information on where they are to help increase their popularity.

6. Increase Awareness.

One way to increase defense awareness is by hosting a guest speaker who might share his or her experience in a self-defense situation. Humans tend to think bad things won’t happen to them, which is why it’s important to remind them it can happen to anyone and it’s important to be prepared.

Additionally, you can also bring in a guest instructor who specializes in training women if you don’t have a female instructor on staff. (Slone, for example, has been praised for her ability to sympathize and teach women who’ve been in domestic violence encounters — which is rarely focused on.)

Women have an easier time learning from other women who can provide instruction in a less-intimidating manner and with the personal experience of another woman. Especially when it comes to matters of how to carry and shooting dynamics, our biology is clearly different. Another woman provides valuable training insight men just don’t have. 

7. Carry Confidently.

There are a lot of holsters on the market, but unless you buy them, you can’t try them. Consider setting up a holster section dedicated to women.

It’s a very personal choice for women. Being able to feel the material, check out the retention and perhaps even try it on as long as it’s not breaking any sanitary codes gives a huge benefit toward having a satisfied customer. This is a great way to make an extra sale and rest assured your client is carrying safely and securely.

Most gun stores don’t like sitting on inventory and with all the holster options out there, this would require a lot of space and money. Maybe you could team up with a local holster company that can make custom holsters with a quick turnaround. This would be a win-win for all parties involved.

8. Embrace The Change.

The gun community is growing and evolving faster today than ever before. It may be challenging at times but allows lots of potential for growth if we embrace the needs of the new demographics. Take the opportunity to grow with the market and increase customer satisfaction.

Ava Flanell is the founder of Elite Firearms Training in Colorado Springs, Colo., and producer/host of the Gun Funny podcast.

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