A Teenage Appleseed Instructor

I’m linking to a post that Western Rose put up today about the fact that she has attended 50 Appleseed rifle shoots, instructing at most of them – and she’s not even out of high school yet!  You can read her story here.  She is one of the amazing young people that I will be interviewing and reporting on, so I’ll have her complete story here soon.  In the meantime, check out her page The Little Adventures of Western Rose; I know you will love it.

First up in my series will be an interview with Allie “Allie Cat” Barrett – coming soon, don’t miss it!

Happy Shooting!

Debutante Hunters

Check out this short film, Debutante Hunters, that was entered into the Sundance Film Festival:


The girls featured are from the low country of South Carolina, where my son and his family live, and it’s a great little short film that represents hunting in a positive light.  It’s not gory, but if you don’t like hunting, don’t watch the film.

Debutante Hunters was the winner of the Yahoo! Audience Award, so check it out!

Tactical Shooters Get Schooled By Teenage Girls

I look for every chance I can get to promote Project Appleseed, and this post – by a military marksman – is a good example of what you might find at a shoot. Check out this program – there is none like it!

Firearm User Network

So, your hero tactical “instructor” is a hard core military type with deployments overseas, huh? Well, isn’t that cute. I wonder how his shooting skill would stack up against a teenage girl.

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To Pink Or Not To Pink…

So here’s the question:  “Women wearing pink camo:  What are you trying to blend into?”

And of course that question could be asked of anyone wearing any color of camo in any setting outside the typical hunt setting, i.e., the woods.

But as the debate continues on whether pink camo, hunting gear, fishing gear, and pink guns themselves are actually enticing to women, more pink gear is being made and displayed in stores every day.

Only about 15-16% of women, “survey said,” prefer the color pink for their hunting and fishing gear, although no one is sure of the percentage of women that actually purchase those items.  Obviously, pink gear is being sold or savvy manufacturers would not be making it, but are the women who actually shoot and fish primarily the ones purchasing the gear?

About half the women surveyed in recent studies said they felt pink outdoor gear to be insulting, and most women in the survey said they prefer traditional camo colors or black for their gear, although many probably don’t care one way or the other.

Initially, I was put off by the pink camo due to the fact that I’ve never been a pink girl and I felt that the manufacturers were just assuming that most women likepink – because we’re girls.  In fact, I’ve never seen pink gear out at the range where I shoot, and most of the women I know who hunt and fish are not into the girly-girl look – at least not at the range or in the hunting blind.  I also felt that if companies wanted to appeal more to women, and thought the color of the gear was the way to go about it, they would offer a wider range of colors and not focus so much on just one.

Another reason is that I think we’ve been inundated with pink everything lately, ad nauseam.  I have no qualms about the breast cancer pink campaign, but when it is showing up on everything from toilet paper to professional football players, I can’t help but feel like it’s gone too far.

And maybe it’s just the shade of the pinkness that bothers me.  I do have a couple of caps I wear to the range that have traditional camo along with a very light pink logo, or some other small, light pinkness to it – but the bright, hot pink that’s going around is just too much for this strawberry-redhead to handle.  And pink guns?  I still can’t get used to that.  Yes, I think some of the guns look cute, but is that really what you want to pull from your holster – a “cute” gun?  I mean, we’re not playing games here.  This is not Barbie’s Day at the Gun Range or Barbie Defends Herself Against the Rapist day, or even Barbie Takes Down a Big Buck day – you get the idea.

So do I mind that there are more options for women in hunting and fishing gear?  Absolutely not.  Do I know of anywomen who have purchased these items?  No.  Would I like a wider range of color options?  Yes.  Would I actually purchase them?  H’m, probably not.

And therein may lie the problem.  I think there are a lot of women who think some of the pink gear is adorable – in the stores, but when it comes down to actually buying guns and accessories that they will use out in the field or carry on their person, it’s probably rare that the pink stuff makes it past the front door – except as a gift from the guy who is trying to get his princess to go hunting with him :0)  I guess we’ll just see how the market unfolds over time.

So what do you think?  Pink or no pink?  That is the question.

Ladies, You Are In Good Company!

Everybody is talking about the huge influx of women to the shooting arena these days, to the tune of between 15 and 20 MILLION female gun owners in the U.S. – and that’s not counting the number of women who shoot, but do not have a gun registered in their name.  Maybe they shoot a gun purchased by their husband, or they shoot someone else’s rifle when they hunt, but regardless, that’s a lot of women; so I decided to try to get a better picture of just how many that is.

You can’t begin to come close the number of women gun owners in the U.S. until you add together the numbers of active military personnel in the following countries:  United States, India, Syria, Thailand, Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Iran, Indonesia, Italy, Vietnam, Japan, Mexico, North Korea, Pakistan, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Russia, Myanmar, Morocco, Malaysia, Jordan, Israel, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Cambodia.  Active military personnel from those countries COMBINED are approximately 15,095,300, which means the number of female gun owners is greater than the military force of 30 countries.

And compared with national population numbers, female gun owners would equal the number of citizens in either the Netherlands, Chili, or Romania – or more than the populations of Jamaica, Puerto Rico, New Zealand, and Ireland COMBINED (15,548,522).  Feeling empowered yet?

How about more than twice the number of motorcycles in the US (7,752,926), more than all the redheads in Scotland and Ireland combined (10,700,000), or about 15-20 times the number of lawyers in America?

The bottom line is that 15 to 20 million of anything is a lot, and for that many women to actually purchase a firearm, there must be a good reason – many good reasons, to be exact.

Of course, many of the active military personnel in the world today are women who own firearms; and if you add the number of female law enforcement officers, you have a large number of women who are armed to protect and defend.  Many other women who own guns are prompted to do so by a desire to defend themselves and others on a personal and individual basis, and with the current numbers of violent crimes committed against women on an annual basis, that’s probably a good idea.

Hunting for food or sport is another reason many women own and use guns.  The number of new female hunters is now outpacing the number of new male hunters, according to the NRA; and according to the National Sporting Goods Association, there were 163,000 new female hunters in 2009.

But women across the nation are also finding out there are shooting sports that have nothing to do with hunting or self-defense.  The National Shooting Sports Foundation tells us that more than 19 million Americans participate in target shooting each year, many of whom are women.  But standing on the line and shooting at a stationary target is not enough for some women; these ladies want a little action in their shooting, hence the rise in attendance at practical shooting events throughout the U.S.

“Imagine combining the athleticism of competitive sports with the choreography of modern dance, then toss in the adrenaline rush of skiing down a double black diamond sky slope,” is how the USPSA Ladies’ Zone website describes the sport of practical shooting.  The United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) and the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) sponsor many events across the nation where women, and men, navigate various “stages” while shooting at stationary and moving targets.  These events are becoming extremely popular with women, many of whom attend camps such as those sponsored by Babes With Bullets in an effort to master this exciting sport.

If you add the fun of cowboy (cowgirl) shooting (who could resist dressing up in vintage clothing and participating in a shootout at the OK corral?), you have even more opportunities for female handgun shooters to have fun and compete alongside the men – check out SASS for more info.  But cowboy shooters do not only use handguns, and there are just as many women picking up rifles and shotguns these days, as pistols and revolvers.

The Revolutionary War Veterans Association is one group encouraging women to improve their rifle skills through Project Appleseed (Ladyseed) events.  The Appleseed program teaches three-position rifle shooting:  standing, sitting, and prone, as well as how to transition between positions, and throws in the history of the beginning of the American Revolutionary War just for fun.  Participants learn how important the rifleman was to the freedoms we now enjoy in our country, and with events just for women – click here – at only $10/weekend, there’s no excuse not to take advantage of these opportunities.   You might even earn your Rifleman’s patch in the process!

If rifles and handguns are not your cup of tea, how about shotgun shooting?  You don’t have to hunt birds to enjoy shooting a shotgun at your local skeet and trap range.  In fact, skeet shooting was named by a woman, Gertrude Hurlbutt, who suggested the Scandinavian word for “shooting” to replace the term of “clock shooting” in 1926.   And if Kim Rhode could compete against adults and win her first world title with a shotgun at the age of 13, going on to earn an Olympic gold medal at the age of 17, it might be something you could try, as well.  Now only in her early 30’s, Kim continues to compete (she will be a member of Team USA at the London Games), as well as encourage women and young people across the nation to become more involved in the shotgun sports.

So you can see that any woman who has a desire to shoot, also has many avenues and opportunities to do so, and with all of the many female shooting blogs (see Blog Roll to the right for just a few), Facebook pages, and support sites available today, I think we will continue to see women filling the lines at many more events in the future.

Never Give Advice Without Proper Ear Protection

CAUTION!  The following story contains hunting lingo and minor hunting visuals, along with a couple of pics.

Sunset behind the blind

Many parents will experience their child’s first hunt this year, so I thought I would share my memories of such an event.

I was privileged to go with my youngest son on his first hunt and witness the taking of his first deer.  That’s also the day I learned to always be prepared.

Although the reason escapes me now, I was the person disguised as the responsible adult and appointed to accompany my ten year-old son into the blind on his first opportunity to shoot a deer.  We were attending a 4-H hunt, along with my husband (who got to see the second deer fall), and we were excited about the prospects.  I knew Dylan could handle the gun, he had proven that many times at shooting practice; and he had all the other knowledge necessary to down his prize – now he just needed the practical experience.

Although it was November, the temperature in south Texas had just begun to drop into the comfortable zone.  Mornings and evenings were cool enough for a light jacket, but shorts were necessary around mid-day.

Our first foray into the blind was Friday evening about an hour before sundown.  The ranch owners dropped us off at our clearing, we unloaded the gear, climbed up into the blind, and got situated.  Sitting as still and as quiet as we could, it wasn’t long before we began to make out various bucks and does along the edge of the tree line.  Eventually, most of them made their way into the clearing, closer and closer to our hiding place.

I think I was more nervous than my son.  For one thing, we were on a doe hunt, not a trophy hunt; and we had all heard horror stories of the poor dad whose son accidentally shot a huge buck, only to have to almost mortgage the home in order to pay for it.  I definitely wanted to make sure that didn’t happen to us, but while the guide had his binoculars and my son had his scope, I was left to just fearfully advise him to be really sure he was aiming for a doe.

My young hunter and his guide picked out a couple of nice does grazing together a distance from the others.  They stayed close together, though, so while Dylan wanted the larger of the two, he had to make sure he had a clear shot and didn’t clip the other one in the process.

I, of course, was as nervous as a cat.  I must have asked a hundred times, “Are you sure that’s the one?”  “Are you sure it’s a doe?”  “Are you sure you have a good shot?”

This is probably why moms should not go on these hunts with their kids – or at least I shouldn’t.

He kept assuring me: “Mom, I have her in my sights.”  “Yes, Mom, it’s a doe.”  “I can take her.”   When she lifts her head, I’m going to take her.”

Well, I couldn’t quite hear that last declaration of assurance, since we were whispering the entire time and I was sitting behind him in the cramped space, so I removed my ear protection, moved in really close to his ear in order to ask my question one more time, and as soon as my face was directly behind the butt of his rifle – BOOM!  Yep, true to his word, my little man took his shot – and mom was promptly rendered not only speechless, but temporarily deaf as well.

That deer made one leap to the left and dropped to the ground.  Mission accomplished.  Neither of us could contain ourselves during the wait to make sure she didn’t get back up.  She was a nice doe, weighing in at over 100 pounds, and the best part was that his shot went straight through the heart.  It was a clean and compassionate kill – not bad at all for a first-time hunter!

I was so proud as I watched Dylan complete the processing, helped along by all the men who were available to instruct.  I took lots of pictures and we even got a taste of some of that venison in the form of nuggets that one of the dads so graciously cooked for dinner.

The rest of the weekend went just as well – a second deer down the next night – with hunting in the early morning and late afternoon; naps, card games, and shooting the breeze during the middle of the day; and declarations to hunt again next year at the end.  We hated to see the adventure come to a close.

I learned some lessons that weekend, though, that I will keep forever:  Always trust my son to do what he says he will do; stop worrying, sit back, relax, and enjoy the experience; and most importantly, never give advice without proper ear protection.

Fireside tamales at the end of the day

Dylan and his friend, Cody, pose proudly with Dylan's first deer

Coming soon….

A Girl, a Glock, and the NRA Pistol Qualifications

On working my way through the pistol quals, step by step – and how long it will take me to reach the top, Distinquished Expert.  Part 1 should be posted within a couple of days (I’ve made it to Marksman 1st Class), then Part II, well, who knows :0)  Stay tuned!