An obvious symptom of cabin fever is the onset of plotting what you’ll do when the mercury rises and it finally stops raining, sleeting and/or snowing. Those of us living in the Deep South really should be spared from this condition. However, this winter has provided few opportunities to brag to our northern kin about how great the weather is down here. So, we plan for better days.
After summarily dismissing the idea of painting my living room, kitchen and dining room this winter, I decided what I really wanted to do was improve my handgun shooting skills. Personal protection is the primary reason for this new interest. Plus, I have just enough experience to know target shooting with a handgun is really fun.
One program I looked into is First Shots, which is conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. First Shots seminars give newcomers an opportunity to try handgun shooting while learning about firearms safety. While the program is open to everyone, nearly half of the participants are women, according to a survey completed by more than 3,100 seminar participants.
I’d fit right into the program because the average age of women attending a First Shots seminar is about 42. Okay, so maybe I’m a little above average on that account.
I do fit this demographic, though. While I have shot a handgun before, similar to 8 out of 10 women surveyed, First Shots would be my only formal introduction to handgun shooting. And because I want to be safe and competent, taking a course is really important to me. So is learning from a certified instructor, a commonality I share with 96 percent of female First Shot participants who are considering attending a handgun personal protection skills course.
Those who attended a First Shots seminar reported they now have a greater understanding of handguns and are more likely to purchase one and continue shooting. Personal protection is the biggest motivator for buying a handgun and that desire appears to increase with age.
NSSF surveyed participants again six months after they took a First Shots seminar, and they learned two in 10 women sought more training such as basic handgun, concealed carry, defensive handgun, NRA safety course, one-on-one instruction, home defense or other programs. Half of the First Shots participants had already met their state’s requirements to own or buy a handgun. Overall, women who took the course were pleased with the experience and many expressed an interest in learning more about the rifle and shotgun shooting sports as well.
While the data in NSSF’s survey doesn’t represent a national sample of female target shooters, it is another indicator that interest in our constitutional rights to own a firearm is alive and well. It’s also reassuring to know women are getting the training they need to take responsibility for protecting themselves and their families. We have come a long way, baby.
If you’d like an introduction to handguns through the First Shots program, visit http://www.firstshots.org/.