On Being the Girl at the Range
Gun ranges are almost always boys’ clubs, where men gather to do manly things with firearms. It’s not unusual to show up to plink or shoot a match and be the only woman, or one of a handful, among dozens of men or more. Fortunately, that’s becoming less the case, but for those times you show up and don’t get taken seriously, I’ve found a few things that can help a woman get a little more respect behind the firing line.
- Dress appropriately. That doesn’t mean you have to wear boxy t-shirts, turtlenecks, baggy pants, and boots, but do remember that the hot brass dance is a thing and that you’re participating in something at least mildly active. If you’re the kind of girl who wears heels all the time and wants to practice before a night out on the town, it might make sense for you find a pair of pumps for the range, but leaving the stiletto sandals at home is a good idea. Save that cute plunging V-neck for your date, because nobody wants a burn on their cleavage. And showing up looking like you’ve thought a bit about the activity you’re taking part in makes you look more serious about your training and makes people take you more seriously.
- dry fire at home can pay big dividends in helping you feel and look more confident at the range. When you don’t have to ask for help loading and unloading your gun or magazines, or performing basic operations like locking back slides or bolts or using a manual safety, you’ll show everyone how self-sufficient you can be and that gets a lot of respect even if you’re struggling. Plus everyone appreciates a shooter who has safe gun-handling skills regardless of the circumstances. Learn how to run your gun. A little bit of
- Don’t take offense easily. Salty language and inappropriate jokes can be on the range far more than most of us would like. I’m not saying let it go, but giving back as good as you got or being up front about your annoyance will probably make you more of “one of the guys” than drama and tears, or running to a third party to complain. You don’t have to put up with misbehavior, but in my experience, calling people on it calmly and head-on will get you more respect from everyone. And remember: sometimes, they’re just making fun of themselves.
- Go it alone. One of the parts I love most about shooting is getting to hang out with my husband all day. He’s my best friend and one of the strongest supporters and helpers I have on the range, especially when it comes to dragging my heavy gear around. I noticed something, though, when I started showing up at the range by myself sometimes. First, everyone was surprised and wanted to know if he was okay. Then, I started getting a little more respect that I was on the range for myself and by myself. Not that I let it stop me from shooting with my husband as much as I can, but showing up stag occasionally can change some attitudes.
- Shoot better. I mentioned above how helpful it can be to be familiar with your gun. Being an awesome shooter is not required for people to appreciate your efforts, but there are occasionally condescending people who are best addressed by showing them that they just got beat by the girl they were patting on the head a few minutes ago. No need to be mean-spirited about it – just use it as motivation to learn and practice how to be an awesome shooter. You can do it!