Christine Cunningham describes the journey from concept (myth) to reality, or the story behind the line of Syren shotguns, made exclusively for women.
According to Greek mythology, a siren is a dangerous yet beautiful creature. Mine came to me in the form of the Elos Venti, one of a growing number of Syren shotgun models designed by Caesar Guerini and Fabarm for the female shooter. I wrote a review of the Venti after taking it on a ptarmigan hunt in Alaska last fall. It’s now the gun I carry in the field—an over-under in 20 gauge with a classic walnut stock and a pair of roses carved into the top portion of the grip. It’s also proved it has more going for it than looks alone. It’s deadly on birds and fit me like a glove right out of the box. Since my review, I’ve learned more about the Syren line, including the story behind my gun’s design.
At this year’s SHOT Show, I caught up with Syren’s Shaun Burkowski, who was responsible for creating the logo and brand identity. Shaun described the thought behind Syren’s “S-wing” logo: “A siren is a ‘winged mermaid,’” he said, “and the Syren logo portrays two wings forming an ‘S’ reminiscent of the Greek mythology.” Upland hunters, he added, can look at them as bird wings. The color purple was selected to represent the brand since it combines the calm stability of blue and the fierce energy of red. It’s a color associated with elegance, creativity and independence.
Later that same afternoon, Caesar Guerini USA president Wesley Lang spoke to a group of women about the impetus behind the Syren line and how the vision evolved throughout his career in the American gun market. He described the “shrink it and pink it” mentality of the male-dominated gun culture when it comes to offering guns to the female market, and mentioned one woman shooter’s reaction to a gun that one manufacturer was promoting for women.
“She commented to me, ‘I’m insulted by that gun,’” he said. This was a company that was marketing what they thought was a good product, and her reaction was taken to heart. The woman was a serious competitive shooter who challenged him with this question: “Why would women want a gun with a shortened stock that has been painted a silly color? Why wouldn’t we want nice wood and engraving like any other gun?” The comment stayed with him over the years, as he observed what was being done in the market space for female shooters.
He recalled searching for a gun for his wife when she wanted to shoot more with her girlfriends. He was in a position to get a gun that would work for her, and he started by cutting down a stock. Here he was, he told us, with so many resources available to him, yet he was unable to get a result that any male shooter would find acceptable. His only option would be to have a full custom stock made. It brought home the realization that most female shooters had to make compromises to become involved in the sport. Understanding that the industry had done a poor job of creating a product for female shooters, Wes saw the need for a genuine offering.
He also realized that, in order to provide guns that met the needs of women, he would need to involve women in the process. Instead of offering a single model, Caesar Guerini created the Syren brand to provide an entire line for women, and Anne Mauro, an immensely talented shooter, came onboard as vice president. As Wes spoke, I remembered that Anne introduced me to the Syren, the gun I now carry in the field. Over the years, I had become attached to my first upland gun, a 28-gauge that had earned its scratches and sentimental value. It wasn’t until I spoke with Anne, and she described Guerini’s design considerations, that I began to realize there was something special about this line. Syren was offering something historic to the female shooter, and I wanted to be a part of it.
Wes introduced Anne to us, and she embodied what he had explained. She knows what each of the guns in the line does for women, and connects the product to the needs of the shooter. She has experienced the frustration of not having a gun that fits. She has overcome the same things we have, and wants new shooters to avoid those frustrations. Anne is the front line of the company, and attends events that empower women shooters, no matter their experience level. I didn’t think I needed empowerment, but Anne’s enthusiasm is contagious. She spoke about what matters most to me — more women having the opportunity to shoot and hunt.
Anne outlined the ripple effect Syren has had in the industry. She attends shooting events all over the country and observes what various ranges and gun clubs are doing for women. What she finds is sometimes disappointing, but it’s also eye-opening. And she’s part of changing it for the better. She described working with a shooter in a wheelchair, and the tremendous joy of seeing her center-punch a target. At another event, a young woman wanted to try shooting a 12- gauge, but her father wasn’t sure she could handle it. Anne was sure she could. She placed a Syren shotgun in her arms and provided her with the guidance to shoot successfully.
She has talked to women who are adamant they need a custom gun, or have been convinced they need to shorten their stocks more than they should. Anne enjoys the result of seeing women understand how to get into their gun and shoot well without frustration.
Shotguns in the Syren line have a shorter length of pull, a smaller pistol grip, and a cast at toe to accommodate a woman’s fuller chest. When explaining design features, Anne pointed out that good design takes the gun out of the picture. “Syren shotguns navigate the barriers [of poor gun fit]. Fighting the gun takes away from the experience,” she said.
Anne’s encounters at ranges have shown there is more to Syren than good design. There’s a message about creating a more responsive approach to products offered to women. It’s a job Anne and Syren take seriously, and they hope it’s an approach that catches on in the industry.
“The real heart of it is, we want the consumer to help shape the product,” said Wes. It’s a message that caught my attention, and one that I hope continues to gain momentum as more women embrace the shooting-sports and hunting lifestyle.