It’s more than a pink thang

Babbs in the Woods: Which came first? The gun, or the pink?

So, I saw the header in my Google Alerts that read “Local Gun Sales Getting Boost from Women,” and then, the description, “According to the National Sporting Goods Association, 46.5% more women are target shooting today than they were a decade ago. A 2011 Gallup Poll found 23% of American women now own a gun. They’re buying them not only for hunting, but for protection.”

I knew about the Gallup Poll that reported 23 percent of women now own a firearm, but I did not know that 46.5 percent more women are target shooting than a decade ago.

So, I went to the article, written by Don Coleman at KJCT8 in Grand Junction, Colo. His opening line flipped my innards: “It’s a trend marked in pink from the shotgun shells to clothes – and don’t forget the guns.”

“A trend marked in pink?” I do not think that the majority of women target shooters out there are sporting pink on their guns. Is he being metaphorical, perhaps?

Babbs with the family AR and Paige Eissinger with I.O. Inc's first pink AK-47. First came the desire for a gun, then the choice for pink. Photo by Jason Baird

Then Coleman quotes a salesman at the local Sportsman’s Warehouse, who said, “I never thought I’d see it like this. Thirty percent of our gun sales are to women. … They’re buying them not only for hunting, but for protection as well. I have no idea where it’s coming from, but the demand is definitely there.”

Then, the article gets loosey goosey, with a quote from Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officer Kathleen Tadvick, who says, “I’m all about pink, but it has to be the pink camo.” She mentions about how classes for women in hunting fill up and so, “the interest is there.”

Then, the article leads to how turkey hunting is popular with women.

Whoa, let’s get back to the premise here. That it’s a trend marked in pink. It’s way more than that, Mr. Coleman. It’s way deeper than that.

And I never hope to read that an increase in men’s participation in hunting – which has been waning for years now overall – is marked by a “trend marked in blue.”

You want to talk condescending?

For years now, I’ve riled editors and publishers and some of the good old boys in the system by saying that women just want gear that works for them in the field and on the water. That’s it. Some of us may want to accessorize it, or brand it with all pink or a bit of pink. Pink is a color. But women do not shoot because they found a pink gun that is cute. And God help the woman who wears pink camo to the turkey woods this season.


Babbs on an FNFAL. Wearing a touch of pink on the hat, not on the gun. Photo by Jason Baird

The question – why is there a burgeoning women’s market in the shooting and hunting arenas – deserves a more thorough investigation. Soon, when the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service finishes its National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, we will see some real numbers. We suspect it will show that even more young women have joined ranks of anglers, hunters and shooters – based on the 2006 results that showed a huge increase in this demographic.

We know it’s more than a pink thing, though.  A lot more than that.






  • About Barbara Baird

    Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. Her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at


The Conversation

  • Dana says: February 29, 2012 at 10:57 am

    I’m new to the gun community. I grew up without guns around so this is all very new to me. I found shopping for my first hand gun extremely intimidating and what made it worse was the way I was treated when I went into gun stores. As if the way I was treated wasn’t bad enough after much consideration I picked my gun and the first thing the man asked me was “would you like that in pink” It was so off putting to me.

    I get that it is marketing and that pink is indeed a color choice and I have no problem with anyone who wants a pink firearm however men should not assume just because we are women that we automatically like pink. My favorite color is orange and in fact hate pink.

    All I want when walking into a gun store is to actually feel welcome and respected. A better approach instead of asking if I’d like a gun in pink is to say, “this gun comes in a variety of colors, would you be interested in looking at the choices?” My answer would still be no thank you even if it came in orange.

  • Alyssa Haukom says: February 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Nicely said ladies; all interesting and thought-provoking posts. I agree: quality gear that fits our female frames first, color second. I’ve hunted for nearly 30 years now and over the years, I was just thrilled to see outdoor manufacturers catering to women. However, initially when pink came on the marketing scene, I thought it condescending and I didn’t care for it. That being said, lots of people do like it and it sells. That’s marketing. Even though I don’t care for pink, color choice is an individual choice and regardless what color someone chooses, I’m just glad their choosing to spend time outdoors hunting, fishing and pursuing adventure!

  • Tricia says: February 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Thanks for the article (and the comments). I agree that form and function is first. I personally don’t like pink and won’t buy pink camo or pink hunting or fishing equipment. The first time I saw a pink gun my first thought was, “Who’s going to take me seriously with that?!” But if that is what you DO like, then I’m glad it’s available for you. The main thing I expect is for the quality to be as good in the “made for her” clothing and gear (no matter the color!) as in the guy’s stuff and I’d like to see the prices be competitive as well.

    My main concern is finding where to hunt and I’d love to find someone to hunt with. My husband doesn’t hunt or fish, so I’m on my own. Anyone out there looking for a hunting or fishing partner? I’m in southeast Tennessee.

    • Barbara Baird says: February 25, 2012 at 1:24 pm

      Have you checked with the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program or the NWTF’s Women in the Outdoors to see if there are any hunts/outings available in your area? These organizations offer safe and reasonably priced hunting trips for women. Good luck!

  • Ellen Benitz says: February 23, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Just had to add my 2 cents worth.
    Lots of good points made here. I’ve been hunting for 30 years, and I’m just thankful for equimpent that is made to fit my female frame. I remember my first camo was from my brother who just got out of the Marines. Did it look sexy on me? My husband thought so, just becuase he was so glad for me to join him in the woods! Hunting and shooting is something we’ve shared together for over the 35 years I’ve been married to him. He is the one who took me on my first squirrel hunt and my first dove hunt and many first hunts along the way! For the record, I don’t like the pepto pink color most manufacturers are using. I love to wear camo, but I prefer any regular camo pattern,MO, Real Tree, ect. I do feel more powerful whenI wear Camo for an everyday event. I guess it makes me think of all the fun I have in the woods! I DON’T have pink on anything I hunt with, not on my bow, or my guns, or any of my camo. When I am hunting it is strictly a passion I enjoy and I am totally absorbed in it, I am a HUNTER, I have no sex while I am hunting, I am the hunter. That of course is when I am hunting by myself. When I am hunting with friends there is time for mentoring and sharing thoughts and friendship, less intense, but no less serious. I have fun while I’m hunting either alone or with friends and family. I agree with some other’s though, that if the color of the gun encourages a young or older lady to try the shooting sports, then great! But it deffinately does not figure into my buying decision.
    There you have it, probebly more than 2 cents…….. 🙂

    • Barbara Baird - Women's Outdoor News says: February 23, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      That’s more like at least 2 dollars’ worth, Ellen. Thanks for stopping in here. Your experience with the NWTF and all the women you’ve mentored throughout the years count for a lot … and we appreciate it. Looking forward to working with you soon to show the readers here your new venture!

    • Barbara Baird says: March 3, 2012 at 11:12 am

      We look forward to reading more about your life because you bring so many years of experience, and especially in your former career with the NWTF and its women’s program.

  • Andrea says: February 23, 2012 at 12:16 am

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with pink. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it but don’t try to make it sound bad for those who do. I like pink, do I have to have it on everything? No but I like it. I love my black guns but I also love my green and pink camo cases. I love my regular camo, I wear a green and brown Wrangler camo baseball hat at least 3 times a week. I also wear my pink and gray Browning hat. Sometimes I switch it up and wear my pink and brown RMEF hat. I absolutely love my pink BB gun my dad bought me for Christmas because he bought it. Would I take it back or throw a fit because it’s pink if I hated pink? Hell no, my dad bought it for me because he thought I’d like it. Some women seem to feel like they have to prove that they aren’t girly and can hang with the boys, to me that’s sad. You shouldn’t have to look like the boys to prove you know what you’re doing and you’re serious. You can have a pink gun, pink case, pink glasses and pink camo, doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re safe and you know what you’re doing. Who the hell cares if what you’re wearing or shooting is pink? Wear what you want, whatever color you want, don’t judge because some women like pink. Apparently A LOT do because they’re selling it. Hell, that chick over there wearing pink everything with her pink gun might just be a better shot than you. Get over the fact that stuff is pink.

    • Barbara Baird says: February 23, 2012 at 9:07 am

      You are proving the point that women who won’t wear or shoot pink make, even though you probably don’t know it! You are saying, if I’m reading this correctly, is that it’s not about pink first! It’s about the gear first. As long as you like it — choose pink and use it proudly! Which ties into the premise of this blogpost. It’s not because we’re women that we want pink. It’s not because of pink gear that we shoot or hunt. It’s because we want to, and for manufacturers to believe that pink pushes the desire to shoot or hunt is a backwards’ concept. Right?

  • Mary Ellis says: February 22, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    No pink on my guns—I DO have pink trimmed eyes & ears, but not because they are pink–but because I had so much stuff to buy starting out and they were what was available for the best price.

    • Barbara Baird says: February 23, 2012 at 10:09 am

      Mary — Good reasons to buy products. Our fav four-letter word, SALE.

      • Tricia says: February 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm

        Agreed!! I recently caught women’s camo silent-weave pants on sale and was so excited. I finally replaced my brother’s camo fatigues with something that fits. Yay! Nice thing is that my son had given me a gift certificate for Christmas to an outdoor retailer and I got to use the gift certificate for a SALE item that I like and will use a lot.

  • Christine says: February 22, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    I like the idea of pink accessorizing because to me it says “no, this isn’t my husband’s gun, it’s mine” but I hate the color pink, especially that pale pink that’s always used. And the color won’t dictate my firearm purchase but an attractive color will catch my eye. I don’t think men make things in pink to keep women “in their place.” It’s pure market. Pink sells. We are only in the beginning of women entering the hunting retail market and there will be many more accessory-type options to come.

  • Dawn Gribb says: February 22, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Pink is not where it’s at. I wouldn’t have a pink gun even if someone gave it to me. And, I don’t wear pink camo. Why should they have all the fun. Give me a gun and a Shewee and I feel very empowered.

  • BobWhite says: February 22, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    I subscribe to WON and enjoy the brisk discussions almost as much as the great content.

    Good stuff.

    Thanks, Barb!

  • Brenda Valentine says: February 22, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    I’ve let my opinion of pink be heard loud and clear many times in the past but just couldn’t pass up this opportunity to say it again. I may put a splash of pink or rather bright red on my toenails but believe me they will be buried in gray wool socks and scuffed, muddy boots. Cutsey pink trim is the deal breaker when I choose new hunting gear. I could go on and on but it is better for me to quit now.

  • Bill Bowers says: February 22, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    I suspect the “pink thang” comes more from the male than the female side of the fence. Some men are terrified of women, or at least of women who do well at traditionally “masculine” activities such as shooting, hunting, fishing, etc. A woman who puts beaucoup rounds into the 10-ring might be threatening; dressing her, or her firearm, in pink makes her seem “cute” instead.

    Contrary to appearances (because some men work very hard at disguising it), the male ego is a fragile thing indeed. Women are driving the outdoors trend, but men are dressing them in pink . . . or trying to.

    • Barbara Baird says: February 23, 2012 at 10:13 am

      Speaking as a man, Bill, you are more in tune with this type stuff than any of us women here would be, and since most marketing agencies hire men to represent them, well, that’s why we’re here. For forums and discussions such as this one. I think the notion of pink first, gun second needs to stop. Thanks for enlightening us.

  • Stacey Huston says: February 22, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Love seeing women stand up and bust out of the stereo types. Pink is NOT for me, but if it takes a pretty pink gun to make some women feel comfortable enough to pick it up.. then well.. that’s ok too.. it’s what is on the inside that really matters. Just don’t assume that because we are women we want pink and purple.. even as a little girl I liked brown and green 🙂

  • Jo Schaper says: February 22, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Oh, my. I thought prom camo was only in the mind of Brad Paisley. Satin camo. The concept snarls my brain. Satin camo sheets. Oh my.

    I am convinced (since psychological studies have shown that pink is a passivating color) that the whole pink outdoors movement (like the hot pink Mattel Barbie movement) is actually directed at men, who are doing it to soothe their own fears about women with guns. Men with guns= testosterone supremacy, therefore women with pink guns has to have something to do female potency, too.

    They just don’t get it. They don’t realize the whole pink outdoors thing (which is admittedly sexist but effective marketing) plays on three levels: men who buy their women pink stuff, women who are seriously worried about their femininity and have to shout it out at every opportunity (they probably would also go for hunting tiaras, having been raised believing they were princesses) and those women made of sterner stuff, who think the whole pink thing is a hoot, but buy in anyway just for the shock value.. At a recent park naturalist conference scholarship auction, pink mini-Leatherman tools routinely brought $15 to $30 more than any other color, being bid over by all three types: both estrogen-rich and amazon women, and guys who wanted them for their girlfriends. It all just repels me because the color thing is so shallow.

    While it certainly is entertaining, Barb is correct in that the whole think pink thing misses the point: I’ve been in male dominated circles my whole life: geology, hands on printing, caving and outdoor writing. I’d rather be accepted as “one of the guys” rather than stick out as the loony with the pink rock pick (all rock pics are blue, wood grain or black), or the girl with the pink Maglight. I can’t imagine being the girl with the pink gun, or even wanting to be.

    I’d rather be the person with the tightest pattern on the target. How do we get people to move beyond their marketing silliness, when so many stick so tightly to being so manipulated? (pun intended.)

    To paraphrase Sylvia Plath in The Bell Jar: I’d rather be the arrow than the place the arrow launches from.

  • Katherine says: February 22, 2012 at 11:21 am

    I hate pink. It ranks right at the very bottom with black and white. It makes me look washed out. Give me olive, coyote, mud, moss, sand, and pine above any other colors! I look darn good in earthy camo colors.

    I bought my first rifle in November, and I love it. It’s plain and basic with a wood stock, and it feels balanced in my hands. I’m so excited to get more into shooting sports. Shooting is relaxing. In the next year I will start learning to hunt. Soon I’ll be taking a class in tracking and trapping, and later one in tanning. I want to bring home a turkey for starters.

    • Barbara Baird says: February 22, 2012 at 11:47 am

      And again, you illustrate the point that first comes the gear and then, hmmm, what color a) works and b) would I prefer? Well stated, Katherine!

    • Barbara Baird says: February 23, 2012 at 10:14 am

      Good luck with your journey into the world of hunting and trapping, Katherine! Let us know about how it’s going and if you need help. There might be a WON Gun in your neck of the woods, just itching to get out and hunt, trap or shoot with you!

  • Barbara Baird says: February 22, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Great role models in Julie Golob and Brenda Valentine. Thanks, Paige.

  • JoAnne Schnepp says: February 22, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Commenting on the ‘pink’ being a desired color in camo for women…. I have a big, nationwide, appealing camo formal wear business…and a huge part of it is selling prom dresses to high school girls. One would think they might be the epitome of who likes ‘pink camo’. We have a true timber snowfall camo in pink, along with 8-10 other traditional camo patterns in satin fabrics. I have NOT ONE TIME YET sold anything made in the PINK camo pattern!! I thought it migh be wanted for prom dresses! NO…these girls who love hunting, shooting and other outdoor sports want ONLY ‘THEIR’ true camo pattern, as it matches their hunting clothing!! Mossy Oak NBU is, by far, the most popular…in the traditional brown shades. I’ve had Moms tell me their daughters love camo so much that they’ve never seen their young ladies in a dress!! And they are excited to have formal wear in their loved patterns. This continues all the way up to the wedding planning and the wedding gown! NO PINK CAMO HERE!!

    • Barbara Baird says: February 22, 2012 at 10:50 am

      Interesting, JoAnne. Who’d a thunk? Another assumption. That women who want to dress up with a touch of camo would prefer pink camo. NOT! Thanks for letting us know about your real-life experience. Keep on keepin’ on … and letting us know about it!