Age Is Just A Number — Should The Industry Take Notice?


Contrary to what you’ll see in most marketing campaigns,
the “average” female gun owner trends older.
Don’t forget: this demographic has more disposable income
(and leisure time) than younger generations.

Who is the female American gun owner? Surveys held by the two largest women’s shooting organizations, The Well Armed Woman (TWAW) and A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League (AG & AG), give insight into various areas such as how long women have been gun owners, how many guns they own, what is their favorite gun, etc. But the most eye-opening statistic is the age of female gun owners. 

As a member of a chapter of AG & AG, I notice most women who attend our group, as well as the national conference, are middle age and older. Once in a while a young mom will show up, but she doesn’t make it a regular habit to attend. I get this. I was once that young mom as well. Moms with children at home are typically busy spending their time (and their money) on their children.

As we become empty-nesters and beyond, we now have the time — and the disposable income — to spend on ourselves. Some of us discovered the sport of shooting once we had the opportunity to find our own interests. Some decided to learn about self-defense with the increase in violence and riots. 

Others have become divorced or widowed, realizing they had depended on their husbands to protect them — now they must protect themselves, so training is needed. Everyone has their reason for becoming a gun owner, and it’s no different as we age.

What Women See

Yet almost everywhere in industry advertising, we don’t see ourselves — women over 45 — represented in marketing materials. This is one reason it’s easy for some to believe and push the media hype that women don’t like guns when we don’t see many photos of women with guns and certainly don’t often see older women in those photos.

I watch various shooting shows, follow different social media accounts and see very few women represented, and the ones I do see are mostly young and athletic. It’s easy to think the sport or the lifestyle isn’t for mature women. It begs the question: Would the industry change its advertising strategies if it realized the majority of female gun owners are over the age of 45?

The Numbers

A lot of surveys on gun ownership focus on gun ethnicity and gender. Very few ask about age, or when they do they lump women and men together. 

However, The Well Armed Woman conducted a survey in 2022 that revealed:

• 35% of respondents were 46–55;

• 23% fell in the 56–65 age range;

• 3% represented 66–75 year olds. 

A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League conducted a survey for a gun store asking what women want in a shooting range. This survey also asked the age of respondents and the results showed: 

• 41% were 51–60;

• 17% were in the  61–70 age range.

Granted, these were not scientific surveys, but they still offer a glimpse into the concept. Simply, the TWAW survey shows 61% of females are over age 46, while the AG & AG survey shows 58% of the respondents are over 51 years of age. 

These surveys show the majority of women involved in these groups are over the age of 46, yet a majority of marketing materials show much younger women using gun-related products. 

How The Industry Is Missing Out

NSSF research shows the average woman spends $870 annually on gun purchases and $405 annually on accessories. Would this number be higher if marketers added materials that speak to women over 45?

Carrie Lightfoot, founder and owner of TWAW and the shooting chapters, has a strong opinion on the topic as well, stating in a previous article she wrote for Shooting Industry, “I have always thought the industry wrongly believed the average woman gun owner to be younger than she actually was and I have encouraged them to adjust their marketing toward, or at a minimum include, the more mature woman in their marketing campaigns.”

I spoke with Lightfoot to learn more about what she sees. 

“My theory: It’s still a male-dominated market. Even in the marketing firms, it’s still so male-driven — they’re stuck on the appeal of the beauty of a younger woman that they just can’t seem to get away from it,” she stated. “They don’t understand the differences between their male and female clientele.”

She believes getting a woman to buy a product is all about engagement.

“Women interact and shop and purchase differently than men,” she said. “Reviews are a very important part of the purchasing decision for us. Women are relational, in everything we do, so if a woman relates to an image she’ll keep going. But if the image makes her feel bad about herself or insecure, she just won’t connect anymore. There’s a relatability that has to happen — especially in imagery with women. A woman has to relate to the brand to want to engage with them, to want to buy from them.”

Lightfoot contends while progress has been made to make firearms more inclusive for women, there’s always room for improvement.

“I’ve worked with a number of different manufacturers and it’s like they all receive the concept but don’t necessarily incorporate it,” she continued. “Progress has been made in normalizing the imagery of everyday women. There is so much potential here for companies if they would get on board. Every business can do whatever they want, of course, and if it works, that’s great. But the industry misses out on the bulk of women. Women clearly see the demographics and feel the industry isn’t paying attention.” 

Robyn Sandoval, executive director of AG & AG Shooting League sees the same thing regarding the ages of its members.

Sandoval explained, “AG & AG is a home for all women of all body types, ethnicities, abilities and yes, all ages. Many of our members are more mature, and we even have our Super Seventies group who loves spending time at the range having fun, competing and learning. We’d love to see more industry marketing representing this fierce and inspiring demographic. Age is just a number, and our older members are investing in themselves and their firearms.”

“We’d love to see more industry marketing representing this fierce and inspiring demographic. Age is just a number, and our older members are investing in themselves and their firearms.”

Robyn Sandoval, Executive Director
A Girl & A Gun

The Opportunity For Change

This is not to say there are some legitimate reasons why it may be difficult to incorporate older women into a marketing campaign.

Stacy Bright, social media manager for CrossBreed Holsters, shared, “Our priority is giving options to women and not necessarily geared toward age as it is the clothing style they wear. However, most of the people you’ll see in our photos are employees. We prefer to use our own employees to represent ‘real’ people rather than non-gun people who would need to be ‘coached’ how to hold a firearm, re-holster safely, etc.”

This makes reasonable sense while also offering opportunities for creative thinking. For instance, if you don’t have the ability to use employees or have the budget for professional models, you could ask your customers to send in their photos for you to use. People are usually more than willing to help if given the chance. 

You could even have a contest, asking for photos and awarding a gift certificate to your top three picks. This would also allow you the opportunity to gauge the makeup of this demographic and get feedback before you spend a lot of money on a marketing campaign.

Mature women are more than willing to spend money on firearms-related products — if they can see themselves represented. 

So how about you? Would you consider tweaking your approach to marketing with these facts in mind? Let us know: 

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