There are a host of reasons (or excuses) why ladies don’t flock to the shooting range. From discomfort or fear to lack of experience or even lack of gear, there are many, many “whys” that women have used to explain their absence or their avoidance.
But I can tell you one reason that comes up in conversations a lot. It’s something that many females inquire about, and it’s something that may keep them from fully enjoying the firearm training, competition or just the camaraderie of shooting with family, friends or even strangers at the gun range. Want to know what that reason is? Believe it or not, it’s the restroom facilities … or the lack thereof.
Not All Heroes Wear Capes
The bathroom hasn’t ever been the No. 1 (or even the No. 2) reason for me to skip practice, training or shooting matches, but it’s definitely something that still enters my mind when I’m planning to go (to the shooting range, that is!). Why? Let’s be frank here: Women use the facilities differently than men because our facilities are different. Add a tactical belt, a holster (with gun), some magazine pouches (with full magazines) and whatever other gear is being used (sling, shotgun shell caddy, eye and ear pro, hat, competition vest, rain gear, etc.), and the chore may require even more time, effort and planning to successfully execute a trip to the loo. Oh, and if there’s a porta-potty (or just a patch of woods) instead of an actual bathroom or stall, the seemingly simple task can easily become an insane balancing act that requires utmost concentration and skill.
Ladies … are you with me? How many times have you nearly dropped your shooting glasses or ear protection while maneuvering in an undersized, portable polyurethane toilet that rocks precariously or that doesn’t have a working lock mechanism? And if you weren’t able to (or didn’t think to) remove magazines and firearm — or even your entire belt — ahead of time, did you cringe thinking something would hit the dirty floor as you desperately attempted to keep your gear secure? Or how many times have you reached for the toilet paper, only to discover no paper, damp paper, a spider web, dead bugs or the occasional stinging insect?
Gun Ranges — Give Women a Break
So, what can shooting ranges do to alleviate the conundrum that may occur when nature calls, especially for female guests?
- Have a working restroom. At least one, but preferably more so they are easily accessible to each shooting range. I know that may seem completely obvious, but there are still some locations that have only one facility for 100+ acres. Or they have nothing at all. And feel free to sprinkle in a few porta-johns, as necessary. (Most of the time, those are better than trees or tall grass!)
- Make sure it’s clean. Please. Problems typically arise when it’s overused. But the easiest way to make sure the restroom is clean is to have it cleaned. (I’ve almost passed out or thrown up because of an especially rank Jonny-on-the-spot.)
- Make sure it’s free of bugs (at least as much as possible). I understand that outdoor facilities especially can attract bugs of all kinds. But it’s a bit disconcerting when a spider suddenly dangles in front of your face or when you reach for the toilet paper only to find yourself battling an angry wasp.
- Supply it with toilet paper (maybe in a protective container to keep it dry and bug-free). I could give Boondocks Firearms Training Academy in Raymond, Mississippi, a shout out for many awesome things, but I always make sure to compliment owner Kim Condon on the soft, dry toilet paper in ample supply. (It matters!)
- Supply it with soap, hand wipes and/or antibacterial gel. You’d be surprised at how many times none of these options are available. Ew. I always carry hand wipes and gel with me in my range bag, just in case, but it would be nice to have some right there where you need it most!
- Perhaps add a deodorizer or an odor-eliminating spray of some sort … maybe some cleaning tablets? Invest in a few bottles of Poo~Pourri or some cans of Febreze … even a few books of matches. It won’t solve all problems, but it can help.
We should always take care of the bottom line. (Pun intended.) Let’s work together to eliminate one of the top excuses for women to skip out on gun range time.