What Women Want


Jeanelle Westrom (right) says a friendly “hello” — while avoiding assumptions — can go a long
way toward creating a positive experience for customers, which likely leads to more visits.

Recent statistics affirm close to 4 million new gun owners are women, yet it’s no surprise increasing gun ownership amongst women has been steadily growing for years. While sometimes it seems as if firearms manufacturers and shooting accessory companies have been slower to address the demographic shift with new product development catering to women, the marketplace speaks for itself.

Today, women are on equal footing when it comes to who spends money on guns and gear, and estimates reveal close to half of the new gun owners since 2019 are women. These compelling figures should stimulate retailers toward investing more into nurturing successful encounters with women as customers.

Developing Loyalty

Even as NSSF-adjusted NICS background checks continue to break records, it makes sense to assume an inevitable slowdown in demand will occur. Therefore, engaging clientele in new and dynamic ways remains vital. But loyalty and trust are not inevitable, and to earn that, you must understand your customers and what precipitates their decisions.

Women aren’t as mysterious as we seem, especially regarding firearms ownership and personal defense. Some ladies have been around firearms their entire lives, and the lifestyle isn’t new to them. They’re fully aware of their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, and they do so with pride and self-assurance.

But, as we’ve experienced in the past few years, many women are entirely new to the idea of owning a gun, and they’re understandably tentative about everything involved with the responsible ownership and use of firearms. Simply, they’re scared.

Still, others might have basic familiarity with guns through their fathers, husbands or significant others. Their experiences could have been positive, leaving them with a good feeling toward firearms, or their encounter could have been horrible, leaving them with apprehension.

There’s no way to tell by looking at someone what their experience level is with firearms. For all you know, grandma might be able to disassemble and reassemble her AK-47 faster than you can mutter, “What may I help you with today?” Or, the young lady who seems too timid to approach the counter could be heading off to her next F-Class long-range match.

The most successful retailers know understanding their customers is key to building a long-term relationship with them. It’s the goal, right? The best customers return to your store, they tell their friends about their excellent experience and they remain loyal, hopefully, for years.

“People always remember when someone was nice to them — the personal attention matters.”

Jeanelle Westrom Davenport Guns & Shooting Club

Viewing Customers As Family

Jeanelle Westrom, owner of Davenport Guns & Shooting Club in Iowa, remarked, “We treat everyone like family, so when folks return to our store, we make sure to greet them by name. That little thing breaks the ice and creates connections to keep them coming back. A few years ago, we learned one of our regulars was in the hospital so we sent him flowers. People always remember when someone was nice to them — the personal attention matters.”

People with little to no firearms experience are often anxious about asking questions they think could make them look foolish. It does not matter if it is a man or a woman. No one appreciates embarrassment.

According to Westrom, “You can’t assume you know what people need without asking them. A friendly ‘hello’ followed by asking what the customer is shopping for begins the conversation. With this little bit of knowledge, salespeople can set the stage for a positive experience.”


With everything that has happened in the U.S. — ranging from the anti-police riots to the COVID-19 pandemic and mandate protests — individuals understand they’re responsible for their own safety. People want to protect themselves and their families, and are realizing responsible gun ownership is a path to that security.

The trend of women purchasing firearms does not appear to be slowing down. Contrary to buying tendencies of the past, racial and gender diversity in new gun ownership is here to stay. This provides entirely new demographics for retailers to pursue, plus opportunities for business growth. Training is a critical component of such growth.

Engaging new gun owners with helpful education and training is crucial in fostering safe practices and presents a channel for their further investment in the products you sell.

Even if your shop doesn’t include a live-fire range, it’s important to arm your customers with educational resources. Align your store with local ranges that offer training and bolster safe firearm practices. Collaborate with them and capitalize on the shared benefits of building a solid base of female customers.

Editor’s Note: If your facility doesn’t have a range, you’ll want to see this month’s Best Practices column for additional ideas — just turn the page.

“Women aren’t as mysterious as we seem, especially regarding firearms ownership and personal defense.”

Persuasive Factors

Women are social creatures, so offering them opportunities to learn in the company of other women is appealing. Westrom’s store encourages women to join a chapter of A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League or The Well Armed Women.

“Organizations like these provide a female-focused community that create a comfortable outlet for learning, asking questions and sharing,” she asserted.

As easy as it is for people to stereotype gun owners, people stereotype gun shops too. For many women, the image is intimidating. The dark and dusty shop with bars on the windows might not be the most inviting image, but for those who are committed to gun ownership and personal defense, they’re willing to stifle their fears and go through that door.

Bright, clean areas are attractive to shoppers, and women especially value knowing they are recognized. To this end, Westrom’s store features concealed carry purses close to the front entrance.

“Ladies who are first-time customers see our display of concealed carry purses when they come in and know right away they’re appreciated and welcome in our shop. It’s our way of showing women they are accepted,” she added.
Attitude is a persuasive factor as well.

“Being positive when we approach our customers has made a tremendous impact on the success of our business,” relayed Westrom. “It’s as easy as smiling and expressing an upbeat attitude with all of our guests. Both women and men tell us the optimistic mood and family atmosphere they feel in our store is what keeps them coming back!”

Lead The Way

Benefitting from the increasing number of women purchasing firearms for the first time has never been easier. Dealers who commit to maintaining them as customers by welcoming them, asking questions and investing in their education lead the way.

Laura Evans is a New York delegate of the DC Project. She owns Silver Bullet Marketing and is a public relations and marketing consultant for the shooting, hunting and outdoor industry.

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