Walking into the SHOT Show for the first time is an overwhelming experience for anyone. We weren’t sure what to expect being women in a predominantly male-dominated industry, but we were sure excited to find out. As we looked through the crowd of the more than 60,000+ attendees, we saw LOTS of women, and they weren’t just booth babes. We met so many smart, knowledgeable and often powerful women that knew guns, knew the industry, and well, I’ll just say were pretty damn bad-ass and tough. Former members of all-women military special forces units, championship competitive shooters, trophy-winning hunters, and impressive entrepreneurs and business owners who were blazing their way with successful gun ranges, retail stores, security firms, construction companies and more. We didn’t have a booth at the show, but we wore our shirts and jewelry each day, and at times we were literally chased down by women asking where we got our shirts and jewelry. One woman even followed us into the ladies room and was insisting on a finding us through the stalls…we loved her chutzpah! We felt the energy, and it motivated us and made us even excited for the future of the sport and the future of Shoots N Giggles. We knew we were on the right track.
But while we confirmed that we’re onto something great and exciting with Shoots N Giggles, and looking around the crowd and seeing the vast number of women in attendance, we were really surprised at how few businesses are catering to the female shooter. No clothing companies with woman’s gear, other than about two hunting apparel companies. There were several holsters companies making products for women – the same ones that have been around for several years – but we didn’t find anything really new on the market. There were some eye and ear protection geared towards women, but very, very little overall. We had to look long and hard to find anything we loved.
What wasn’t surprising, because it’s echoed our experience out in the “real world,” is how little respect we got as women on the show floor. There were some exceptions where the men took us very seriously – eager to show us the newest gear, accessories and optics. But sadly more often we’d walk into a booth, none of the salesmen would even make eye contact with us (and most salesmen there are men, so we had no choice), and we’d even say things loudly close enough for them to hear to prompt them to come over and answer questions – nothing. There were several booths – firearm and holster manufacturers – where we’d ask what products they were targeting toward the female market (discussing women’s difficulties racking slides, or the sizes of grips, or the rubbing of holsters when they don’t conform to our bodies, etc.). Most of the times, we’d get a dumbfounded look back and stuttering as they’d try to explain why the same exact product made for men was perfect for women and there was no reason to manufacture or market differently. There are still more of them than not, but there were also some shining beacons. Taurus, for example, seems to be taking the women’s market seriously, launching a new .380 Spectrum with an easier slide, slighter, smaller, with a nice wide trigger for more control and in a wide choice of colors (we can’t wait to shoot this one and think it will be a winner)! But overall, we were very disappointed by the lack of products made for women and the lack of attention and respect we got as women at the show.
We’ll blog soon about some of the standout products we found at the show, and all in all it was awesome to be there, learning so much about the industry and meeting such amazing, inspiring women. But most of all, we’re excited to have gotten such a great response to our apparel and jewelry line, and we can’t wait to see our retailer partners grow across the country. We think the industry is evolving and changing. Women can’t (and shouldn’t) be ignored as a force in the industry. From what we heard, there were more women this year than any other, and we think that number will continue to grow. Our needs, desires and tastes will be met, and those companies that do it will be the winners overall. We can’t wait until next year’s show to see an even bigger presence. And we’re really excited to see the Shoots N Giggles product lines continue to flourish in the industry thanks to the many women we met there.