Posted Dec 29th, 2021
Women are savvy shoppers, and a lot of them own guns. Why don’t they
participate in gun culture?
Roughly one in five women in the United States (22%) are gun owners. That’s a lot of women who own
guns. And while women are still out-numbered nearly two-to-one by men when it comes to gun
ownership (62% of gun owners are male), in a typical market place we’d expect to see women more
active in the community as both purchasers and participants.
Instead, despite the rise of female gun influencers on Instagram, women are still noticeably missing
when it comes to recreational gun use. We see it ourselves on our store every day: only 5–8% of our
traffic comes from female gun owners.
For us, this represents a troubling trend we would like to change. It also raises important questions
about our community, notably: why aren’t women more active, and how can we involve them more?
We looked into the issue, and our reading pointed to three likely culprits behind the absence of women
in our communities, as well as some possible solutions.
Note: the statistics cited in this article come from a comprehensive Pew Research study of 1,269 gun
owners, released in 2017.
1. Women aren’t as exposed to guns at a young age.
The gender gap in gun ownership likely starts at an early age. Girls are less likely than boys to be given
toy guns to play with, less likely to see themselves as cops or soldiers when they grow up, and less likely
to be taken on a hunting trip or out to the shooting range. (According to Pew, 52% of men said they
went hunting and 46% said they went shooting while growing up, compared only 23% of women.)
As a result, while the average male gun owner acquires his first gun at the age of 19, the average female
gun owner doesn’t purchase her first firearm until age 27. That eight-year delay in gun ownership makes
itself felt, especially as the ages of 19–27 often offer more free time for young people to participate in
The answer here is obvious: If we want women to participate in gun culture, it’s time we took our
2. Marketing to women emphasizes safety over pleasure.
Most gun owners say that personal protection is a leading factor in their decision to purchase a gun. But
27% of female gun-owners say it is the only reason they own a gun, compared to 8% of male gun
owners. This carries through in marketing, where women are consistently encouraged to buy a gun for
self-defense, but rarely encouraged to participate in other aspects of gun culture.
This means that while 58% of men say they “sometimes” or “often” go to the shooting rage, and 37%
say they “sometimes” or “often” go hunting, these numbers are 43% and 28% for women, respectively.
The numbers are more extreme for hunting when we consider that while 36% of men say they “never”
go hunting, that number is 58% for women.
Self defense is a perfectly valid reason to want to own a gun, but it’s also one with roots based in anxiety
and fear. A woman who buys a handgun because she wants to protect her home may take it out to the
shooting range just often enough to feel comfortable, but is not likely to then go purchase a second
3. A smaller community of women means fewer female guides and mentors.
Taken together, the above statistics show the obvious: the lack of women in the gun-owning community
is a self-defeating prophesy. Fewer women in the community means fewer women to support other
women in the community means fewer women attracted to join the community.
Some of this has begun to change recently, with women taking the lead in establishing communities for
other women (see: The Well Armed Woman). These communities were created specifically to address
the gender gap in gun ownership and community participation. However, while the gap is beginning to
shrink, there’s still a long way to go.
Of course, the solution here might be to encourage women who own guns to invite their female friends
out to the range with them, but the gun community at large can also do more to draw attention to these
communities, and to direct women toward resources that answer their questions and make them feel
What should we be doing to encourage more women to become active participants in
the firearms marketplace?
The bottom line is that when women don’t participate in gun culture, we all lose. As shoppers, women
are savvy—they know good product when they see it, and are willing to invest in quality. Women are
also loyal to brands that serve them well. And women have spending power—and are willing to put their
dollars behind the products they love.
Most importantly of all, if women aren’t on the shooting range or out on a hunt, then they’re missing
out on the most enjoyable aspect of gun ownership—and the rest of us are missing out on an
opportunity to share a passionate hobby with another person—be she a sister, a daughter, or simply a
Women should be a part of our community simply because buying a round of novelty ammo and trying
it out on the shooting range is a fun way to spend an afternoon. They should be part of our community
because hunting for your own dinner is a satisfying way to reconnect with nature’s life cycle. And they
should be part of our community because gun ownership should be about more than fear.
And to the gun-owning women reading our blog, we’d like to know: Do you ever take your gun out to
the shooting range or on a hunting trip?
If not, why not?
Are there barriers keeping you from participating?
And if so, how can we lower them?