I received a message the other day that contained the following statement: “I was welcoming women into shooting before it became a fad.” I won’t pretend to know the exact intent of this sentence. I didn’t write it. But it definitely got me thinking. And I felt that I needed to point out that women and firearms are not a fad.
Just for clarification, the word fad means “an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived and without basis in the object’s qualities; a craze.” This definition, alone, proves my point. Women getting involved with shooting is not something new. The fact that many more women are speaking louder, working harder and accomplishing more in the firearms world does not make it the “flavor of the month.” Having the tools and the skills necessary to protect ourselves and our loves ones is not some fly-by-night idea. Women learning how to defend themselves is not a short-lived activity. And women training with firearms is not a craze. The bottom line is: Women and firearms are not some hyped-up trend that will simply fade away because we’ve lost interest and moved on to something else.
While there may arguably be many more females who are visibly and audibly involved with firearms nowadays than the not-so-distant past, women have not been absent from the world of shooting or firearms training. I can’t help but think of one of the most famous female shooters — and instructors — of all time, Annie Oakley (also known as “Little Sure Shot”). In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Annie inspired and taught thousands of women to shoot (historians claim she personally taught more than 15,000 women!).
On her first visit to London, Annie took out a newspaper ad that offered to give lessons on the use of pistols, rifles and shotguns “to ladies only.” And when she returned back home to the States, she continued to give free firearms lessons to any woman who was interested. In 1897, she also took pen to paper and wrote a series of articles, called “Without Shooting Herself, Taught by Annie Oakley,” in order to “dispel one of the most persistent and prevalent myths about women who own guns.” According to Annie, “Every intelligent woman should become familiar with the use of firearms.” And she hoped for the day when women would handle guns “as naturally as they handle babies.”
All in all, Annie Oakley believed wholeheartedly that women should be able to defend and protect themselves (with firearms, if necessary), and she lived her life to prove that … and to share it with others. But the best part of Annie Oakley’s story is that she is not alone. While there are hosts of amazing instructors, trailblazers and 2nd Amendment advocates at the forefront of women in the firearms industry, there are also countless, “everyday” moms, grandmothers, sisters, wives and daughters who have taken upon themselves the responsibility of firearms ownership, use and training. And they know, just as I know, that women and firearms are not a fad. Believe it or not, we’ve been around for a while. And ready or not, we’re here to stay.