By: Kirstie Pike, CEO Prois Hunting & Field Apparel for Women
Itâ€™s true, ladiesâ€¦the NRA is no longer just a manâ€™s lair. It is not simply a testosterone-rich world of guns, ammunition and tactical gear. The NRA is, by all accounts, now made for a woman.
I recently attended the 2010 NRA National Convention in Charlotte, NC. Being my virgin voyage to this particular venue, I found my mind riddled with preconceived notions. Despite the fact that I was very well aware of all of the efforts put forth by the NRA to promote the inclusion of women in the organization, it was not until I arrived in Charlotte that I began to understand the depth of these efforts.
Itâ€™s true. I expected to descend into a thick testosterone cloud. I expected to hear snippets of conversation revolving around Glocks, ARâ€™s and concealed weapons. What I found was quite the contrary. Roughly 30% of the crowd (a very unscientific estimate, to be sure) was, well, female. This was surprising to me, although I have long been a member of the NRA and I am quite aware of the vast efforts the organization puts forth to draw women to the industry, the shooting sports and the world of firearms. I found myself a bit embarrassed about my ignorance. I decided to treat this as a scientific experiment of sorts. What was the draw (no pun intended) for the women of the NRA?
It became quite clear to me on the first day that the inclusion of Sarah Palin as one of the keynote speakers for the conventions was a draw. While I personally did not get to attend her engagement as I was chained to my exhibitorâ€™s booth like a bad dog that chases cars, I spoke at length with many attendees who were both moved and inspired by Sarahâ€™s speech. Sarah represents the working woman, the mother, the wife and the spirit of our country. It seems that the snippets of conversation I was now overhearing on this day centered on the impact of one womanâ€™s inspirational speech. Her inclusion in the NRA line up was brilliant.
Interestingly, there were many products throughout the marketplace designed and manufactured expressly for women. Now, I am personally not a fan of all things pink, but I have to say that there was a veritable smorgasbord of pink hand guns, rifles, knives, air guns and more to appeal to the ladies. Fret not if you too oppose all things pink, there were numerous firearms and accessories designed to fit a female that were still no-nonsense black and gunmetal. It seems the many firearm manufacturers (much like the bow manufacturers) are hearing the battle cry from women for high-performance gear that is made just for women. The result is nothing short of amazing as women are purchasing firearms at an eye-popping rate. Concealed carry clothing, holsters and handbags are also being manufactured for the female and were hot items on the floor of the show.
Manufacturers are not the only entities seeing the need to appeal to the ever-increasing numbers of women in the hunting and shooting sports. Outfitters are beginning to market to female friendly camps and services. I noted in more than one outfitter booth photos of female clients with their harvested animals. Often, the outfitters and guides are females themselves which adds a new dimension to the predominately male profession.
I found it inspiring that the women I encountered throughout the show were extremely knowledgeable and often considered professional shooters and hunters. I appreciated the venue where a womanâ€™s passion for the shooting industry was accepted and promoted. With that said, I admit I was wrong. While there was certainly ample testosterone in this convention, it was met with a rivaling amount of estrogen.
I get it nowâ€¦NRA IS strong enough for a man but it is now made for a woman. I recommend any woman who is passionate about hunting and shooting give the convention a whirl for 2011. I am willing to bet that you too will be amazed and perhaps inspired.