According to a recent report published by the National Shooting Sports Federation (NSSF) the fastest-growing segment in shooting sports belongs to the ladies. If, like me, you’re a female firearms enthusiast, it’s likely that you’ve had to deal with a gun salesman or two who never read that report.
I’ve been completely ignored while in the hunting and fishing departments of local stores. I once had a salesperson try to talk me out of the pistol I wanted to purchase because a different brand fit my husband’s hand better. I’ve had salesmen who would only speak with my husband, despite my husband’s insistence that the purchase was for me. I’ve also experienced the dreaded “Can I help you pick out something for your husband, ma’am?” question not once but twice!
Certainly trying to deal with a salesman who clearly doesn’t want any part of working with me can put me on edge; I’ve been called “defensive” before. But is getting upset, angry, defensive or just plain nasty with salespeople the best way to re-educate them? No. It just makes you look like a beyotch .
If you’re like me, when you walk into the store, you’ve done your research and at least narrowed down what you’d like to look at. Being confident, knowing what you want, and politely demanding to be treated with respect is generally all it takes. Sometimes the salesmen are great, but sometimes they still don’t believe that you do indeed know what you’re talking about, so they try to trip you up with questions. Most always they’re shocked to learn I am a certified pistol instructor. They then assume I’m “on the job.” Truth is, I’m not a law enforcement officer; I’m simply a woman shooter who knows what she wants.
Dealing with salesmen who aren’t used to selling to women isn’t just a problem for me. I recently reached out to a women’s shooting group that I belong to and asked how they dealt with non-female-friendly firearm salesman. Within 36 hours of posting the question, I had 57 responses. Here are a few:
While I couldn’t post all 57 the responses here, they all had similar situations and suggestions. Here are some tips that I have found helpful:
It’s gotten to the point that when I walk into the store, I hope for the best but expect the worst. While it might be easier to just buy online and ship directly to my local FFL, I’m a proponent for shopping locally. I’ve found it helps to develop a relationship with the people you buy from. You may have to educate them once, but I guarantee that if you play nice and keep it friendly, they will remember you the next time you go in.
Annette Doerr is a freelance outdoor writer and business services consultant living in suburban New York. This married mother of two is an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor and Range Safety Officer. Annette is not only passionate about the sport of shooting, she also loves helping new shooters get involved, especially women and teens. An active equestrian, she enjoys riding her American Quarter horse, Cody. She volunteers in greyhound rescue and adoption, and shares her home with Casper, a rescued racing greyhound, along with her her cat, Tony, and her husband, Bob. Visit Annette at WeShoot2.com, her personal blog. View all posts by Annette Doerr