Girls Shoot Guns Too


Girls Shoot Guns Too Founder Debbie Rose (right) has trained several hundred women — using word-
of-mouth references to grow her business. She’s found success in offering live-fire and dry-fire training.

The firearms market has long been dominated by men, but a recent study shows a major shift manufacturers and retailers can’t ignore. Preliminary data from Harvard’s School of Public Health suggest women accounted for about half of all gun purchases made between January 2019 and April 2021,1 and new gun owners are more likely to be female.

To help women become confident and proficient gun owners, retired New York State Police Investigator Debbie Rose founded a firearms instruction company she aptly named Girls Shoot Guns Too.

We spoke with Rose about her motivations for getting started, how ranges and dealers can better serve their female customers and how technology is changing firearms instruction.

SI: What was your motivation for starting Girls Shoot Guns Too?

Rose: I always wanted to do firearms instruction, so when I retired from law enforcement after 24 years in June 2020, it was a natural transition.

Shortly after I retired, I was approached by some gun dealers asking if I’d be interested in teaching private lessons to people who were new to firearms. Dave Fish from Fish’s Firearms in Glen Aubrey, N.Y., was the first to call. He’s also law enforcement and knew I was a firearms instructor. He and other nearby FFL dealers have been so supportive of Girls Shoot Guns Too.

SI: How many women have you helped train to date?

Rose: Since starting Girls Shoot Guns Too in fall 2020, I’ve trained several hundred people. Although I primarily work with women, I also provide firearms instruction to men. That first winter when I was getting started and into the following spring, I was at the range all day every day.

(Rose provides private firearms instruction and concealed carry permit classes at the Broome County Sportsmen’s Association facility which includes a covered 100-meter outdoor rifle range, a heated indoor 50-foot rifle and pistol range with electronic returning target carriers and a covered 25/50-yard outdoor pistol range.)

SI: How has working with gun dealers helped grow your business? Do you have any tips or advice for working with them?

Rose: Growing my business has been through a lot of word of mouth. There are around 10 FFL dealers in my surrounding area. When I first started teaching, I had these women coming to me saying, “Look what I just bought,” who would then often show me a .38 snub-nose revolver or something with an EZ slide. But once they shot it, they’d hate it.

I started going to these dealers asking why they sold it and sharing the feedback I was getting from these women to help them better understand the importance of fit and features from a woman’s perspective.

Buying a gun is like buying a pair of shoes or a pair of jeans. It has to fit you just right. I’ve even gone shopping with a few of my students, explaining things like the nomenclature of the gun and the fit, and really encouraging them to take their time before making a purchase.

SI: What are the most common misconceptions you’ve heard about women and firearms?

Rose: That women can’t shoot guns in general. But in reality, women are 9 out of 10 times a better shot than men — especially when they haven’t had prior instruction and don’t carry over any bad habits.

“Women accounted for about half of all gun purchases made between January 2019 and April 2021, and new gun owners are more likely to be female.”

Because I’m also a woman, I’m calm and patient when providing instruction. Women listen well and take lessons well. They also tend to be more patient, so when they are shooting it just all works together. For those who have previously picked up some bad shooting habits, they’re usually easily correctable.

SI: How can retailers and gun ranges do a better job of serving female shooters?

Rose: I came across a gun dealer selling the S&W EZ slides to pretty much every woman who walked in the door. Instead of showing women how to work the action, he’d say just buy this EZ slide. But if you don’t teach gun owners how to properly work the action, how do you expect them to shoot another type of gun if necessary?

Dealers should always encourage the gun purchaser test-fire a gun before buying it. If the FFL isn’t trained, confer with local ranges and encourage purchasers to seek out training.

“Buying a gun is like buying a pair of shoes or a pair of jeans. It has to fit you just right.”

Debbie Rose, Founder Girls Shoot Guns Too

SI: What are some of the most common reasons you hear from your students for being reluctant to own a gun?

Rose: Knowledge (or lack thereof). They think guns are dangerous and not safe, particularly those who have children in the house. They’re apprehensive about it because they don’t understand the gun, but once they learn about it and shoot it, it’s an enlightening and empowering experience for them.

SI: Tell us about dry-fire training guns and how you use them to help women overcome their apprehensions regarding gun ownership.

Rose: Arno Lippassaar, who is also a recently retired trooper from the New York State Police, is now the director of sales and marketing for Smart Firearms Training Devices. They offer dry-fire laser training guns, CO2 cartridge guns, targets and more.

By not expending any ammunition, you don’t need a range and can train anywhere. They also eliminate the hesitation that comes from anticipation because there’s no recoil. If someone is really nervous, we’ll start with those or use them as warm up. They help get you the mindset of shooting. Moving from a dry-fire to a live-fire gun is like taking the training wheels off a


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