Women are emotional creatures. It’s okay to admit that and to embrace that…even on the shooting range! In fact, a few tears while shooting is not all that uncommon, but it’s definitely an issue that deserves some attention.

One of the most interesting things to recognize about crying while shooting is that the reasons behind the tears can be quite varied. But as long as everyone remains safe, those tears can be something that everyone can push through and possibly learn from.

Here are eleven of the more common reasons why women may cry at the range…and some things to consider for managing or overcoming those reactions. Just know that whatever your reason, you are not alone!

  • She is scared of the gun. That first shot can be quite surprising. It’s loud, almost obnoxiously so, like a firework going off just inches from her face. And the gun may move in her hands more than she thought it would. It’s very easy (and very normal) to be intimidated by something so powerful. But that fear can be a good thing since it may encourage a strong, unwavering respect for firearms.
  • She is scared of having to use the gun in self-defense. No one welcomes the possibility of using a gun in a violent encounter. And no one wants to imagine being responsible for wounding or killing someone. For many, this is a difficult hurdle to overcome. But we must remember that we have firearms as tools to protect our loved ones and ourselves…and we are worth protecting.
  • She is worried about messing up/not doing it right. When trying her hand at something new, she may feel overwhelmed with doing it the “right way.” And some women are simply worried that they may face humiliation or embarrassment if they use the gun improperly. But if all the safety rules are in play, we should remember to relax and have fun. It’s not as difficult as it may seem…and all those marksmanship details can come later.
  • She is worried about getting hurt or accidentally hurting others. This is a natural fear, and it’s not necessarily a bad one. Again, that fear can encourage a respect for firearms. Just remember that if we follow the basic safety rules, we can manipulate firearms without causing any harm. And the more practice one gets, the easier it will be to understand and accept that.
  • She has a fear of something that happened in the past with guns. I have heard this reason a lot—that there was an incident or some sort of carelessness associated with guns. An accident like this is not something easily forgotten or overcome. It can weigh heavily on someone’s mind. And rightly so. We just need to be sensitive to this situation and remember that while we may not have had any influence at that time, we have control over this moment right now.
  • She has a fear of things she has heard about guns. The media is full of stories of “gun violence,” accidents, danger, bad people, and even gun myths. Most of us have grown up with this negative influence. And it may take some first-hand experience to put those thoughts aside.
  • She has a fear of the unknown. It’s natural to be apprehensive about things we don’t understand or about something we’ve never done. That’s part of the process. And sometimes, we may need a little more time to think things through, to gain some confidence, and to move past that fear.
  • She has a fear of bad people. For many women, when they think of guns, they think about the reason we need to use them…to defend ourselves from bad people. The thing to remember is that while for some women, the bad people are unknown (they’re strangers whom they’ve never met), for others, those bad people are already a part of their lives, whether from a domestic violence situation, abuse, or an attack. Either way, the emotions associated with that are VERY real.
  • She is relieved that she’s shot a gun. The adrenaline is pumping, she is going through the physical and emotional effects of stress, and she is facing and overcoming a fear. Once that first shot rings out, it can be a huge relief! And sometimes tears are a sign of that.
  • She is excited that she’s shot a gun. This could be a first-time experience or one that she hasn’t had in a long time. And it’s easy for emotions to swell up and sometimes run over the top. In this case, these are “good tears.” It’s like she’s saying, “It’s done…and it wasn’t so bad, after all!”
  • She is experiencing a mix of overwhelming emotions. We all deal with stress in different ways, and sometimes tears fall for no “apparent reason.” Since we can’t always pinpoint the exact explanation, reaction, or hormone, just chalk it up to a mix of feelings, all across the gambit.

When tears appear on the shooting range, we may be tempted to state that, “There’s no crying in [shooting].” But tears are not abnormal or strange. It may be something that a shooter needs to address or something she simply needs to accept. But it’s nothing to be ashamed of. So don’t worry about it. Just stay safe, have fun, and don’t give up.