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hile the shooting industry is still very much male-dominated, as demonstrated by the empty lady’s room during this year's SHOT Show, the women of the industry are on the move! I caught up with some of the tops in the industry at the show and during the first quarter of the year—all leaders of female-oriented organizations and efforts—to see what they had planned for 2019 and beyond. One thing was for sure though, these industry leaders are serious about spreading the message, not only in the shooting sports industry itself, but in Washington D.C. too. The Well Armed Woman - Carrie Lightfoot

three women posing at well armed woman shooting chapters
TWAW founder Carrie Lightfoot (center) with chapter leaders Jodi Newton (left) and Lisa Tharp (right).Annette Doerr

Carrie sees 2019 as a banner year for The Well Armed Woman shooting chapters (TWAW). They started out the year with record new memberships and launched a new Instructional Standards & Development (ISD) program. This exciting new program enhances the Chapter Leader's instructional methods by providing defined goals with a clear roadmap for continued growth and achievement as instructors.

TWAW have a dedicated and passionate group of women leading our chapters and the ISD Program gives founder Carrie Lightfoot and her team the ability to support her instructors and their growth as instructors in a significant way.

Lightfoot said, “This will result in not only the empowering of them, but together, we will provide the highest level of fundamentally sound training and holistic education possible for our members.”

When asked what her main concerns were right now, Lightfoot replied, “I would have to say that what has me the most concerned, also has me the most hopeful. The relentless attacks on our Second Amendment rights, the NRA and the demonization of the American gun owner is very troubling. What we see happening legislatively on both the state and federal levels is mind-blowing.

"I think few of us ever thought we would see such blatant and unconstitutional assaults become law. Here is why I am hopeful, women are becoming activated. They are vocal, passionate and fighting on the front lines. Women are a formidable force that can wield great influence and seeing women rise up is thrilling to me.”

“Nothing can compare to the SHOT Show experience,” Lightfoot said. “It’s always a whirlwind of meetings, products, and great people. Just the enormity of it takes your breath away. This year, not only did it appear that the presence of women was elevated, the interest of the industry in reaching the women’s market was elevated as well.

“Women are a force in the firearms industry, there is no denying that. I can say that in my years in the industry, I have seen huge strides in its ability to effectively reach women. There is a very real and tangible interest to better understand the women’s market, to understand their needs and to develop products and services that really work for women and fit their lifestyle.”

The Women's Outdoor News (The WON) - Barbara Baird

two women at industry day at the range
Founder of The WON, Barbara Baird (right) with Ashley Rheuark at this year’s Industry Day at the Range in Boulder City, Nevada.Annette Doerr

The Women's Outdoor News, also known as "The WON," features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. With a band of columnists and reviewers, photographers and female correspondents, The WON engages its readers through a blog format and we invite readers to network with us.

When asked what was new for 2019, founder Barbara Baird said, "We've been doing content marketing before it was called content marketing. We will continue writing, videoing and photographing phenomenal women and girls outdoors.

"With stories told by our outdoor women, we have a new mission: Inform. Influence. Inspire. It's not enough to be a prop any longer for outdoor-related gear. It's the story that matters, and we tell it. We also share the stories and events of several women's organizations and offer a free download of a listing. It includes climbing, hiking, outdoor clinics, shooting and hunting, as well as other outdoor activities and traditions.

“Women are the fastest growing demographic in the outdoor industry. We network. We socialize, and the industry must wake up to this method of educating and therefore, selling its products. The industry has been making more and more women-friendly products, but sometimes, we just don’t know about them.”

As for this year’s SHOT Show, Baird said it was a good show and that there was a “strong showing of influential and real-deal women. The ‘Women of the Gun’ reception, which we co-hosted with the NSSF’s Project ChildSafe, is an excellent example of partnering to promote a passion — in this case, safe gun ownership. Keep up the good work, everyone! Think digital!”

Shoot Like a Girl - Karen Butler

karen butler, the founder of shoot like a girl
Karen Butler, the founder of Shoot Like a Girl.Shoot Like a Girl

This year, Shoot Like A Girl celebrates its 10th year in business!  Shoot Like A Girl's original mission statement was "to empower women to participate in shooting sports with confidence," and remains their foundational principal.  "As we gathered data," remarked Karen, "we added tag lines that reflected our results as we realized our impact.

We added, “Growing the number of women in shooting sports, by empowering them with confidence”; “Changing Lives, One Shot at a Time” and “Recruiting, Re-engaging and Retaining Women’s Participation in Shooting Sports”.  All these statements are more than buzz words, they are a true reflection of our capability.”

“I get a bit sentimental when I look back over the past decade.  It was well over ten year ago, when I had the concept for Shoot Like a Girl.  The idea was if we could introduce women to shooting, they would feel the confidence from hitting the target and love it and then participate in it.  Todd, my husband, had faith in me that I could make this happen, and with his encouragement I incorporated Shoot Like A Girl in November of 2008, on what the news reported was the worst day in history for small businesses.

"The company launched at the World Archery Show in Las Vegas in February 2009.  We’ve been blessed with great Corporate Partners, Instructors, Teammates, Pro-staff and Shooting Staff, Business Mentors and Advisory Board Members.  Nothing in life is done alone and Shoot Like A Girl’s success is a testimony of great people and businesses, hard work and most importantly, faith.”

2019 is the year of The Great American Tour – as they will literally travel from Washington State to Pennsylvania – about 26 stops.  We are adding video content to our portfolio" said Karen, "and working on improving our web stories and articles to give examples of the great experiences we can have in shooting sports.  Our schedule is at https://shootlikeagirl.com/events/"

“My main concern currently is that the voices of those who oppose shooting sports are louder than ours.  I recently found myself trapped in the middle of protesters at 4 corners of an intersection I needed to cross.  Instead of cutting through traffic, I just stood there, and the girl put her bullhorn in my ear and was screaming at me at how awful I was to support hunting.  She made no sense at all; and was completely uneducated on the facts of hunting.

I was also part of the TIME magazines Guns in America.  I listened to and analyzed all of the stories – it was quite disheartening to find that the majority of the youth who were there all talked talking points, they are being used for an agenda, it is sad.”

Thoughts on SHOT Show 2019: “This was a great show!  I’m excited about the Plus One initiatives, and was thrilled that there were so many events for women. I co-chair the Women In Industry committee for the NRA Women’s Leadership Forum with Liz Sharpe, and we are working on a mentoring program to provide career growth and networking opportunities for women who work in the shooting industry.  There is a tremendous effort and energy on women helping each other succeed.

I have personally interacted with over 19,600 women since I started Shoot Like A Girl.  The issue on shooting sports is not a political issue.  It doesn’t matter if we are talking pro-gun/pro-hunting women of every background are showing up at our trailer to experience shooting and are eager to participate in all aspects of shooting sports.  There is no one definition for these women, they are from every political affiliation, ethnic background, stereotype and physical fitness level.  They are women who leave our trailer with only one common denominator, a great big smile!”

The DC Project - Dianna Muller

dc project group at shot show 2019
The members of the DC Project at SHOT Show 2019.Annette Doerr

Fifty women, from 50 states. Each summer more than 50 women and girls spend four days meeting with members of Congress. The DC Project is an educational, nonpartisan initiative to bring one woman from each state to Washington D.C., meeting with legislators to dispel common myths and garner support for gun rights.

This year’s annual trip to D.C. will be held July 9-12. They plan a rally on the capitol lawn on July 12, which is open to the public. DC Project member and Team Benelli Shooter Dianna Muller encourages anyone to attend.

“It’s a good way to come support the Second Amendment and tour the Capitol City over the weekend,” she said.

New this year is a fundraising 3-Gun match, to be held in Burnet, Texas. (Details on the match can be found here).

Muller said her main concern is uneducated legislators paying attention to the “squeaky wheels” and not the majority of Americans that are seeing their rights eroded.

When asked about this year’s SHOT Show, she said, “SHOT was a blur, but a great time to see old friends, meet one ones, and see what’s new in the industry for 2019.”

“The industry is really responding to women, whether it be in products designed for women, or the lady’s events designed to help us network and know each other.”

REALIZE Firearms Awareness Coalition - Amanda Suffecool

amanda suffecool firearms
Amanda Suffecool (rear) on the firing line.REALIZE Firearms Awareness

REALIZE is a 501c3 non-profit that focuses on firearms education. Under this umbrella is a nationally syndicated radio show EyeOnTheTargetRadio, which is a two hour talk show that covers guns, history, 2A politics (more like legislation awareness) and answers questions from callers.

The show is hosted by Amanda and her brother, Rob Campbell. EyeOnTheTargetRadio is the first Nationally Syndicated Pro2A radio show with a female host.

Amanda, as the host, said that she had a knack for taking technical information and breaking it down to that someone new to the industry could easily digest the information in a manner that made sense to them. “So much of today’s gun podcasts are jargon filled and make assumptions that ‘people in the know, already know this” said Amanda Suffecool.  I function on the premise of tell them what they already know and then build upon that knowledge.”

Suffecool is a pro-2A leader, trainer, and educator, and the creator of the NRA Carry Guard Conceal Carry Fashion Show. She also initiated the REALIZE firearms awareness coalition.

When not hosting the radio show, REALIZE holds a series of events annually including four separate “Woman’s Day on the Range” events during which up to 20 women receive training on firearms handling, storage, and safety starting with the basics and working up to range time with rifles, pistols, and shotguns. Their end goal is educating their ladies, so that they are familiar with safe handling and able to proficiently handle a firearm at the end of the day.    Suffecool sees 2019 as the year of growth. National syndication for the radio show came in September of 2018 and she’s using that as the entryway to work harder, gain listeners, and continue to educate.

Her main concerns include that the 2A community and 2A issues are splintered. States like New Jersey, California and Washington, among others, are passing unlivable anti-gun laws, while South Dakota just became the 13th state to pass Constitutional Carry legislation.

“We need to get all to care and to fight and to protect the second amendment," Suffecool said.

"For me, that is working to normalize gun ownership. To cause folks to see that your normal neighbor, your choir director, your grocery bagger are all gun owners; that you run into gun owners and concealed carry license holders daily.

"We don’t plot to hurt anyone, we are not scheming behind the scenes. We are normal people, who live a normal boring life and want to keep it crime free and uneventful."

SHOT Show 2019 was a busy one for Amanda.

"I go to connect with people to see what they are doing in the coming year," she said. "I have to say that there was not a lot of rolled out new stuff this year, with the exception of bulletproof everything.  Backpacks, desk blotters, clipboards, etc., I see the concern and mourn the fact that there is a need.”