First Shots’ ‘Ladies Day at the Range’ attracts more than 50 women shooters

Maynard — Quincy native Virge Palermo grabbed a shotgun, rested her cheek against its side and aimed towards a small shed about 50 yards away at the Maynard Rod and Gun Club on Saturday, May 11. Suddenly a clay disk flew out from the shed and she aimed, pulled the trigger, but missed the mark.

This was the first time Palermo had shot a gun in over 30 to 40 years, something she wanted to re-learn how to do because “The world has changed tremendously. I feel the need to know it for self-protection,” she said. “Its like learning how to drive a stick shift. You need to know how to shoot a gun and be educated.”

Throughout the course of history, males have predominantly used guns for protection, food, or sport. But more than 50 woman broke the gender barrier on Saturday at the gun club’s first Ladies Day at the Range event.

There, the ladies learned how to shoot everything from shotguns, pistols, revolvers, rifles, to semi automatics, each with their own reasons why.

Quincy resident Virge Palermo fires a shotgun at the Maynard Rod and Gun Club during the Ladies Day at the Range event on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Wicked Local Staff, Danielle McLean

Quincy resident Virge Palermo fires a shotgun at the Maynard Rod and Gun Club during the Ladies Day at the Range event on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Wicked Local Staff, Danielle McLean

“You have all types of woman from all walks of life with all kinds of either preconceived notions or past experience or no experience,” said Claudia Stewart, an area firearms instructor who organized the Ladies Day event. She said women make up less than 10 percent of the country’s shooting population.

“They are coming together in a really supportive environment and trying out a non-traditional kind of sport that goes against a lot of family values, political values, or values of what people think women should or should not be doing,” she said.

The event is part of a program called First Shots, which was created by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and sponsors introductory gun classes across the country. Stewart said this is the first time she has targeted the event towards women.

Ellie Horwitz, a 30-year member of the Maynard Rod and Gun Club, attended the Ladies Day event both as an instructor and a shooter. She said she began shooting while working for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, where she said a lot of her co-workers were passionate hunters or outdoorsmen.

Horwitz said she was influenced by her co-workers to overcome her fear of guns and she gave it a try. “I found it very enjoyable. It’s an eye, hand and mind skill that you don’t need a lot of strength to do,” she said. “I’m absolutely passionate about people trying things and getting over their fears.”

She said when she first began shooting guns more than three decades ago, women’s participation was unheard of. Now, even with low female participation it is no longer uncommon.

Read more: Women on target – Maynard, MA – The Beacon-Villager

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    The Women's Outdoor News, aka The WON, features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. This publication is for women, by women.


The Conversation

  • Patty says: September 4, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    So good to see more and more of these events taking place all over our country! In fact, I’m excited to be the point-person at a Ladies Day at the Range at my gun club in September…the response for registration was overwhelming.

    Whether women become involved in hunting or just look to enjoy the fun of shooting sports…all that’s important is that there are resources available to provide them with the knowledge, skills and attitude necessary for safe gun handling and use.

    As a Certified Firearms Instructor, I’m always impressed with every lady who takes our courses for handgun permits, all who constantly demonstrate much eagerness to learn everything they can!

  • Aili says: May 22, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    These wonderful Ladies’ Day events happen all over the country, and are definitely a lot of fun!! I’ve been a shooting sports enthusiast my whole life, but it was at one of these events three years ago that I met a woman passionate about hunting, so much so that I was convinced I should try it. It has been a life-changing experience for me. I love everything about hunting and I would have continued to think it wasn’t for me if not for an exploratory range day for women. I hope organizers feel appreciated enough to continue to put forth the effort in planning Ladies’ Range Days. It is SO WORTH IT!