Vera Koo describes the modern-day women’s gun movement and highlights viable women’s shooting organizations throughout the world. ~BB
Victoria Knowles-Lacks describes her gun club in simple terms.
“We shoot, and then we eat cake,” Knowles-Lacks, the founder of The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club, said last year during an interview with NRATV. “And it’s all very civilized and jolly and lots of fun.”
Knowles-Lacks founded her gun club in 2011, and it has blossomed into the United Kingdom’s largest ladies shooting club.
I love the concept.
It is a club operated by women, for women.
The club puts on dozens of events throughout the year around the UK. On June 8, it will host its 5th annual National Ladies’ Shooting Day at venues throughout the UK.
Knowles-Lacks has created a welcoming environment for women who want to try their hand at shotgun shooting, but perhaps do not know how to get started or do not own the equipment. She creates a low-stress environment where women can learn from other women. If you do not own a gun, that is no problem. You will be provided with one, plus the instruction you need to feel comfortable.
There’s no pressure, nor intimidation. There are shooters of all skill levels.
“Having fun and that camaraderie and that sisterhood and we’re all in it together and support, that’s so close to my heart,” Knowles-Lacks said during the NRATV interview.
The club’s members range in age from youths to senior citizens. Some are city women. Others are from rural areas. It goes to show you that a variety of women have interest in learning how to handle a gun.
A Chelsea bun is a pastry that originated in Chelsea, London, and resembles a cinnamon roll in appearance.
Most of the women who attend a Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club event bring a cake with them. After shooting, the women enjoy cake and tea.
As someone with a sweet tooth, I love this idea.
More importantly, it warms my heart to see women supporting other women who want to learn how to shoot.
You don’t have to travel to the UK to find a women’s gun club.
On its website, A Girl & A Gun describes its events as “social gatherings where women can come together for support, encouragement, ask questions in a safe and nonjudgmental environment, improve on their marksmanship, and bond together in the shooting community.”
Shooters who attend an AG&AG event will be supervised by a female Certified Firearms Instructor.
The Well Armed Woman, on its website, describes its organization as a “complete resource for the woman gun owner.” It offers education and equipment geared toward female shooters. It also provides information on how to can get in touch with a female instructor in your region. The organization’s local chapters bring women together to practice their skills. There are chapters in 49 states.
Why are these organizations important?
Many people learn better or are more likely to enjoy a new activity when surrounded by others like them in a welcoming environment.
Additionally, the television program “Love at First Shot,” which is hosted by Natalie Foster and Julie Golob, highlights female shooters and tailors its episodes to educating and promoting women’s shooters.
When I started in the shooting sport more than 20 years ago, there was not a strong network of support for female shooters. I had a difficult time finding instructors and gunsmiths. Matches could be an intimidating place ripe with male machoism.
Even in recent years, it was not uncommon for me to attend a match at which I was one of the few women.
I remember early in my career, I would show up to a match and people would slight me. They would see this petite, middle-aged Asian-American woman and surely thought, “Does she really know how to shoot?”
Of course, after I shot, they became friendly, because I performed well. They did not expect that.
I never tried to attract attention or distinguish myself as a female shooter. To me, I was just a shooter like the men who were there. I never felt any different. We were all competitors trying to shoot as well as we can. I did not want unwanted attention, and I conducted myself professionally and quietly went about my business.
I started shooting when I was in my 40s. I had navigated plenty of hardships in life raising a family and helping run a business. So, although some of the blowback I received from men at the range perturbed me, it was not going to dissuade me from pursuing what I wanted.
I do wonder, though, what if I had been younger and did not have as much life experience? Would I have stuck with shooting, or would the intimidating, macho world have caused me to quit shooting?
This is not meant to be a criticism of men’s shooters. In fact, I was fortunate to have a handful of men help me throughout my career as teachers and mentors, including Jim O’Young.
A women’s shooting organization will not appeal to all perspective women’s shooters. Some will be comfortable shooting among men or having a male instructor. Some might even welcome that or be motivated by it.
There is no single way to do something.
The point is, women deserve options. They deserve to be taken seriously. They deserve to have instructors who treat them with respect and teach them in a way that welcomes them. They deserve to have equipment options that suit them. They deserve to have gunsmiths who can help them with their gun needs.
Slowly, the game is changing, and the shooting sport is becoming more welcoming toward women. Organizations like The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club, A Girl & A Gun and The Well Armed Woman are helping. Not only do they increase the options for women’s shooters, they increase the visibility of female shooters.
If women continue to band together and support each other and have strength and a presence, the shooting sport will continue to evolve for the better.
Vera Koo is an 8-time National Action Pistol Woman Champion who holds 2 World individual titles. Her most recent win was a Gold for Team Women (2-person team) at the NRA World Action Pistol Championship in Germany in September 2012. Vera is proud to be part of the United States Action Pistol Shooting Team since 1999. She is passionate about sharing her love of the shooting sport and the pressures of being a competitive athlete while challenging cultural expectations. View all posts by Vera Koo