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Old 12-28-2010, 04:55   #1
Matthew Courtney
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making ladies feel more comfortable and welcome

I am an NRA Certified Instructor, Training Counselor, Range Owner, and Gun Club Membership Chairman, as well as Founder and President of Louisiana Shooters Unlimited, a non-profit educational organization that promotes firearms safety and marksmanship. I am also the chairman of the shooting sports committee for Calcasieu Area Council(BSA). I am trying to identify things that we can do that would make women feel more comfortable with increasing their participation in the shooting sports.

While we have had some success in getting our male/female ratio in CHL courses near parity, our rate of female Instructor Candidate recruitment hovers near 15%. We are rapidly expanding the shooting sports program for Boy Scouts in our area, but the adult Girl Scout leaders we have approached have been very cool to the idea of getting their girls involved in the shooting sports.

What can we do to bring more women to events, and what can we do to make the events comfortable, relaxing, and enjoyable for them so that they want to continue to participate?
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Old 12-28-2010, 10:10   #2
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Can you clarify a little better which crowd you're trying to appeal to?

At first glance, it seemed that you were trying to find ideas on how to get the Girl Scouts involved in shooting sports. However, a second take has me wondering if it's not the scouts themselves, but the leaders and other adult women that you are focused on.

Or, are you searching for a really general answer involving *both* scouts and their leaders?
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Old 12-28-2010, 11:42   #3
Matthew Courtney
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LilWolfess View Post
Can you clarify a little better which crowd you're trying to appeal to?

At first glance, it seemed that you were trying to find ideas on how to get the Girl Scouts involved in shooting sports. However, a second take has me wondering if it's not the scouts themselves, but the leaders and other adult women that you are focused on.

Or, are you searching for a really general answer involving *both* scouts and their leaders?
Both Girls Scouts and their leaders. The eventual hope with youth organizations is that we train some of their adult leaders as instructors and help them coordinate facility time so that they can develop self-sustaining shooting sports programs. While many church oriented youth groups have been receptive to the idea, and we have gotten shooting sports programs started in a few, Girl Scout leaders treat me like a dope dealer whenever I approach them.
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Old 12-28-2010, 12:35   #4
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Sadly, many girls and their moms aren't in Girl Scouts for the actual "scout" part, they are there to socialize. I suspect that right there is the root of your problem.

I can see churches being receptive, especially conservative ones.

I don't have any advice because I just don't know what might work.
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Old 12-28-2010, 19:21   #5
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Part of the problem is probably society in general. Many still consider it great for boys to learn to shoot but are not as comfortable with girls learning to shoot. What they donít understand is that with the changes in our society it would be very beneficial for both boys and girls to learn to properly hand all types of guns and learn to shoot. Keep trying and donít give up society will hopefully change for the better.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>
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Old 12-28-2010, 23:40   #6
LilWolfess
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Courtney View Post
Both Girls Scouts and their leaders. The eventual hope with youth organizations is that we train some of their adult leaders as instructors and help them coordinate facility time so that they can develop self-sustaining shooting sports programs. While many church oriented youth groups have been receptive to the idea, and we have gotten shooting sports programs started in a few, Girl Scout leaders treat me like a dope dealer whenever I approach them.
Well, you might want to re-evaluate your approach.

Here is something I can tell you.

- Woman groups are usually much more receptive to female input.

Do you know any women in your area that would be willing to not only present the idea to the Girl Scouts and their leaders, but also take the responsibility for teaching that group as well? Think about it a little. Even if you are the most respectable and polite man in the world, you still aren't a woman. In fact, you might be viewed as an awkward "intruder" since these groups tend to be fairly close-knit, and designed for "girls only" stuff. Girls don't feel comfortable doing their "girls only" stuff with a man present.

I'm also wondering if age has something to do with it just a little too. I absolutely hate to stereotype, but based on the word patterns and terms you use, not to mention the titles you hold, I get the feeling that you are well over 24 years old. Please correct me if I'm wrong. I don't mean to poke fun or be rude in the least, but you may be the cause of discomfort. This happens to be a tricky concept to describe and explain.

Because you may be older, and especially because you are a man this may put an extra level of discomfort on the women and girls involved. Shooting instruction takes a higher level of physical closeness. Here's a pretty typical picture of "shooting instruction." The two in the picture appear to be standing less than 12" apart. That's MUCH too close for comfort.

Women's Issues

To be painfully blunt, to them you are possibly "a strange old man who likes guns and wants to be around young girls."

If they think that, you can't do anything about it. You won't be able to change their minds, regardless of who you are or what you do. Instead, you'd have to find another person who is more accepted by Girl Scouts and their leaders
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Old 12-29-2010, 03:10   #7
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My wife just completed her CHL course in Dallas. I'd been encouraging/pestering (depends on who you ask) her to get it and she finally jumped when she found a female instructor. She's also taking a 'firearms familiarization course' from the same lady even though I've shown her the procedures of how the pistol operates, safety rules and a couple of range trips.

I had also been discussing concealed carry with a neighbor and his wife latched onto the idea. After some questions and going a couple times to look at pistols she settled on a Kahr PM9 for her carry piece and attended with my wife which kinda bolstered her confidence or made her commit since our neighbor was going also.

Also, my wife found a coupon for the course in a weekly mailer or restaurant circular so she was all stoked about getting a good deal.

In my opinion the factors that encouraged her to finally take the plunge were
1. Female instructor
2. Good price on the course
3. It was advertised in a media that markets to or appeals to women and wasn't in a gun magazine.
4. The class makeup was mostly female
5. She had a friend attend with her
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Old 12-29-2010, 14:03   #8
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I used to be a coach for a ladies only shooting group, my specialty was first-time shooters. One thing I heard over and over was that they never would have taken the course and started shooting if it weren't for the female instructors. LilWolfess makes some good points about why. Is there any chance you can find a qualified woman to work with you and teach the women?
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Old 12-29-2010, 14:13   #9
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All the women in my family that were exposed to shooting came back with a feeling of empowerment and self confidence. Some were just taken shooting, by request, and some were getting their CCW permit. All decided to get their CCW permit and are routinely asked to go shooting when someone gets an idea for a family outing.

Incidentally, They all fired .357's, 38's, 45's, 9mm, and .22's. None had a problem learning to shoot these calibers, but everyone had a chance to pick their caliber.
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Old 01-01-2011, 10:42   #10
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I truly do believe that getting more female instructors is the answer. There are so few of us, and it is the female perspective that is by far more influential to other ladies than the mans perspective. So, if you can find some like minded ladies, culture them to become the role models for both the youths and the women's groups you'll be well on your way to your goal.

I'm on a mission to get more women involved in not only the shooting sports, but also as Second Amendment advocates. Too many think the Second Amendment is a "guy thing" and it is not. It is a "Constitutional thing". My goal, if elected to the NRA's board of directors is exactly that, to bring more ladies into the fold of the Second Amendment.
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Old 01-01-2011, 12:07   #11
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as a father of a former girls scout, most troop leaders do things to earn badges for the girls, and the quest for badges is what drives what the girl scouts, do form week to week.

if the local girl scout conceal does not approve or endorse the idea of the girls learning to shoot, good luck. talk to the head of the local girl scout conceal, maybe you can run a firearm safety program for the leaders that includes a trip to the local range, and then offer the same class to the troops themselves
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Old 01-02-2011, 18:07   #12
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My opinion from my years in Girl Scouting as a scout (many moons ago) and the couple of years that my daughter was in, is that Girl Scouting and Boy Scouting have widely different goals. Girl Scouting varies by the troop leader, but tends more toward suburban moms teaching crafts, than toward outdoorsy women teaching survival/adventure skills. Women leaders teach what they know - and that usually doesn't involve firearms.

At least that's been my experience.

I'd agree about the female instructor being less "threatening" - at least for most women. I found my NRA basic pistol course online and of my own accord, but my car was the only non-pickup truck in the parking lot that day. I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't at least briefly intimidated by the male-female ratio in the room. Most women will not handle that well.

As far as what you can do to attract more women - I'd say with baby-steps. Maybe offer the NRA's Refuse to be A Victim course first? Push the empowerment angle. Talk about the self-defense or defense-of-your-children angle. Talk about learning new skills. Talk about confidence-building for young girls. You have to counter the negative image of firearms that many women have and replace that with positive ideas.

Just my two cents.

Last edited by LadyDoc; 01-02-2011 at 18:35.. Reason: Additional thoughts
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Old 01-04-2011, 09:04   #13
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I don't think you are looking in the right place for instructors. My experience with the Girl Scouts has been that they are EXTREMELY LIBERAL. When I was in GS, the leaders wasted our time teaching us to do manicures, and make useless crafts, not to build fires, shelters, find water/food, etc. I have yet to meet one in person that wants anything to do with guns. I wouldn't waste my time/$ marketing to them.

You might be better served by marketing to the local homeschooling association(s) - they tend to be pro-gun conservatives who like to teach. Also, TEApartiers. And 4-H folks.

Just my $.02
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Old 01-11-2011, 18:38   #14
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I agree that Girl Scouts is not the place to go for students.

Refuse to be a victim is an excellent start as are female instructors.

Do you have a Second Amendment Sisters chapter in your area? If not, it may be time to sponsor one.
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