Last week, I spent a few days among the movers and shakers of the shooting/hunting industry at the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) Industry Summit. This year’s meeting of minds took place in Savannah, Ga., and more than 500 people – from CEOs to bloggers to a representative from the Boy Scouts of America – came together to dissect and examine what it means to be diverse and how we can reach more people and invite them into the wide world of firearms ownership.
I had the distinct pleasure of moderating a panel, the first of its type ever, that included my good friends in the industry: Judy Rhodes, of DIVA WOW; Carrie Lightfoot, of The Well Armed Woman; and Julianna Crowder, of A Girl and A Gun Women’s Shooting. Throughout the 45-minute session, the women discussed how they created their organizations, and where they intend to go in the future. They encouraged and invited range owners to include women’s shooting organizations at their ranges, and promised the owners that the ladies will do most of the heavy lifting!
Judy’s organization, the first of such, has branched out to include 3-gun, kids’ camps, dog training, holster clinics, etc. Carrie just started a shooting team and also, added the 49th state to the lineup of TWAW chapters, plus she offers a wonderful instructor training program. Julianna was still cooling off from a 3-gun training session at the prestigious NRA Whittington Center, and her organization also has created special women’s teams to compete at competition pistol and 3-gun matches nationwide.
At the heart of the discussion, as different as the 3 women’s organizations may be, these ladies share a common passion – getting more women into the shooting sports. The women realize that once new shooters get their triggers broken in, then they may want to explore competition shooting, target shooting, other disciplines of shooting and hunting.
One of the country’s leading gun bloggers, Bob Owens, joined my good friend, Natalie Foster, to talk about gun blogs and social media. Natalie is the host of Smith & Wesson-sponsored “Love at First Shot,” and also blogs at Girls Guide to Guns. Natalie and I go way back, and she lit up the room with her warm personality and enthusiasm. She even got the room to participate in a selfie.
Bob’s personality complemented Natalie’s. More quiet and laid back than Natalie, Bob explained the importance of social media and he and Natalie packed a lot of ideas on how to reach the millenials into 45 minutes. If you want to read a run-down of the event, as presented by Bob, pelase check out his post at BearingArms.com.
I left the event feeling like I’d drunk a big ole’ Red Bull. I agree with Bob, as he mentioned in his review – the future of the shooting/hunting industry looks bright and I’m delighted to be a part of it.