By Carrie Lightfoot
The industry has progressed significantly in recent years, with some of the most prevalent myths about female gun owners debunked — you know, things like “women need and should carry a revolver” and “all women want pink guns.” Now, by and large, everyone reading this is “walking in the light;” if not, however, a quick search on Google will supply a plethora of educational resources for you to read and cast these myths aside.
When speaking in generalities, of course, there are always exceptions. None of these myths apply to all women. So when trying to build your female clientele you want to be prepared to receive, market to and sell to the majority — right?
In my roles as owner of The Well Armed Woman and founder of The Well Armed Woman Shooting Chapters nonprofit, and a woman, I’m surrounded by female gun owners and immersed in what’s important to them. The industry’s perspective may be much improved, yet there are still a few lingering myths that need to be put to rest today.
Myth #1: Women Don’t Like (Or Can’t Shoot) Long Guns
To assume any one of the points below is a big mistake and doing so means missing out on revenue:
• Long guns are too big for women.
• Women are afraid of long guns.
• Women are too weak to shoot long guns.
• Long guns are too complex for women.
• Women can’t handle the recoil or power of long guns.
The majority of women who walk through your door for the first time are likely looking for a concealed carry handgun. They’ve decided to get it for self-protection, did their research and determined what they want. Many, in fact, may say, “Oh no, I’m not interested in a long gun.” Some may even say, “I couldn’t handle a gun like that.” However — and this is something I experience every day — the initial handgun sale is exactly what they’re ready for, for now.
Once they begin shooting, training and gaining confidence with their handgun, they get hooked. And not just to handguns (of which they will buy multiples), but their new confidence inspires them to try different disciplines and different firearms. This includes rifles and shotguns.
The key here is the quality of their shooting experiences and training. It must move them forward on their continuum of learning and improving. If this happens, they will try and love long guns. This new love is not only good for them, but good for you too. The newfound confidence women discover as they master the handgun is addictive and will lead them toward conquering any lingering fear of long guns they may have. Therefore, it behooves the retailer to encourage new/female/handgun customers to find quality instruction and shooting experiences.
If you offer training at your facility, try to get her registered in one of the female-friendly courses you offer. If you don’t, find the best training opportunities for women in your area and refer her to them. Search out a local female shooting chapter and connect her to it.
Yes, women have less upper body strength and smaller, weaker hands than men. This reality does not make them incapable of handling, shooting and owning long guns. It makes it imperative, however, you know and carry the models that best fit women and ones they can successfully shoot with confidence.
Remember, if they’re new to guns this is uncharted and intimidating territory to them. Earlier this year, we addressed how to best receive the new female customer with, “6 Considerations For Earning A Woman’s Business” (June 2019), and advised patience is necessary. Women are relational and require your patience. Showing you understand her journey, coupled with your investment of time and care is not only worth it to your bottom line but is hugely satisfying as well.
Myth #2: All Women Are Young and Skinny
I know you know this isn’t true — we all know this isn’t true — but it permeates almost all industries and the majority of marketing and the entertainment world. The problem is, it’s not who the majority of us are.
(Yes, young women are an incredibly important part of our industry’s future and we must welcome them into the gun community with open arms. Although I’m neither young nor skinny, this discussion is an important one. So since we’ve taken “Carrie is just insecure” off of the table, let’s have a candid conversation.)
Start With The Facts
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average adult American woman is 39.1 years old (2017),1 and 67.99% of all females are over the age of 25.2
In 2018, The Well Armed Woman (TWAW) surveyed 4,000 gun-owning women ages 18–75 (of which, 61% of respondents were not members of TWAW). Women 36 to 65 years old constituted 76.5% of the total number of respondents. Of this group, 33% were between the ages of 56 and 65.3
The key here is the quality of their shooting experiences
and training. It must move them forward on their continuum of learning and improving.
What About The Buying Power Of Mature Gun-Owning Women?
In this survey group, women over the age of 35 constituted 90.95% of total dollars spent on guns and gear in 2018. Women over 50 have discretionary income and are becoming “super consumers” who control nearly 75% of the wealth in America.4 And, according to the survey, it shows the age group with the most significant economic impact was 66–75 year olds, who spent an average of $1,723 on firearms and related accessories in 2018.
I’m sure you get the point here. Don’t miss out on the enormous opportunity to capture the mature gun-owning woman customer.
What About the “Skinny” Part of this Myth?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average weight of the American woman is 170.6 lbs.,5 and the average weight of an 18–19-year-old is 125.5 lbs.
A key point here: the majority of women who are (or will be) purchasing guns and gear from you likely won’t be young and skinny. These realities matter because you may be inadvertently alienating the customers you want to attract. Women need to feel respected and must relate to your messaging, as well as your product selection. When they don’t see themselves, they go elsewhere to find a place where they do.
Take a minute to think over these three questions: “Who are the women walking into your store or range?”, “What women are you marketing to?” and “Do you only see women as society in general sees them?”
At a minimum, I hope this has opened your eyes to begin viewing female customers with a refreshed perspective. Women offer an enormous opportunity to you and your business. Not just the potential to grow profits, but an opening to provide them with the products and services they crave. The added perk is it’s extremely satisfying to be a part of her journey to become the best self-protector she can be.