Author: Jackie Holbrook
Hunter numbers are declining nationwide, but one demographic group keeps increasing. More women and teenage girls are donning camo and heading afield to hunt meat for their families.
In 2001, for example, women made up just 10 percent of hunters, but by 2013 that number pushed closer to 20 percent, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Among bowhunters, a 2016 study by the Archery Trade Association found 16 percent are women. That study also showed women comprised 36 percent of U.S. archery participants, up from 22 percent in 2014.
With more women participating in archery and bowhunting, archery shops are hearing more demand for women’s-only events. Local, state and nongovernment organizations offer classes, clinics and retreats for women. These events have become popular, and provide a friendly, welcoming, learning environment that helps outdoors-women connect with each other. These events often have male instructors, but more female instructors are taking part.
If you’re not partnering with these organizations or offering women’s-only events at your shop, you’re missing out on potential customers and a fun change of pace.
This program encourages women to strengthen their bond with the outdoors. Photo Credit: Wilderness Obsession
Becoming an Outdoors-Woman
Becoming an Outdoors-Woman is an educational program that offers hands-on workshops and retreats. Thirty-eight states and six Canadian provinces offer BOW events. Over 20,000 women attend over 80 events annually. These workshops offer entry-level instruction so women can learn outdoor skills in a fun, comfortable and supportive environment.
BOW events typically last three days, with experts teaching seminars about popular activities like archery, fishing, hiking, kayaking, camping, photography, fur sewing and more. Attendees choose activities that interest them, and learn the basics over the weekend.
The format encourages women to seek further information after they complete the courses. It’s also helps women forge friendships with others interested in the outdoors, and possibly pursue the activities together in the future.
Some states expanded the program to include Beyond BOW, which focuses on one activity, such as a day at the shooting range, an ice-fishing excursion, or overnight camping trip.
Montana has held BOW workshops for 25 years, with current demand so high they’re held year-round. “The program has become very popular, and the hunting courses are always full,” said Sara Smith, Montana’s BOW coordinator,in an article discussing the rise of female hunters in Montana.
State fish and wildlife agencies coordinate BOW programs, and often ask local experts to teach or facilitate the classes. To find or volunteer to teach a BOW program, view this list of state coordinators.
Learn archery from other women with Shoot Like a Girl. Photo credit: Shoot Like a Girl Instagram
Shoot Like a Girl
Shoot Like a Girl celebrated its 10th anniversary at #ATA2019. The organization empowers women by introducing them to shooting sports. Over 18,000 women have participated in the program since its creation. Shoot Like a Girl focused on archery its first five years, but now includes rifles and pistols.
Shoot Like a Girl travels the country with a mobile range inside a semitractor-trailer. The organization visits special events, trade shows and outdoor retailers. Staffed with archery coaches and NRA-certified shooting instructors, Shoot Like a Girl programs make women feel comfortable the first time they pick up a bow or gun. These shooting experts also helped create processes called Test Shots and Test Flights, which focus on safe, responsible archery and firearms handling.
Review the 2019 Shoot Like a Girl tour for an event near you, and contact Shoot Like a Girl to learn how you can help spread the word. After shooting a bow at a Shoot Like a Girl event, participants often continue shooting at nearby archery shops.
Women's only events are a wonderful way to give women the platform to get into archery. Photo credit: Wilde Archery
Host Your Own Event
Hosting an event is a great way to attract customers. Consider offering a ladies-only introduction to archery, which can be one event or multiple classes.
Rising Phoenix Archery in Troy, Michigan, offers a comprehensive training program with enrollments that are 50 percent women. The organization also offers classes exclusively for women. A certified instructor teaches the five-week course.
If you’re hosting a women’s event, make sure your shop has a welcoming atmosphere. Your employees must be friendly, approachable, cleanly dressed and well-groomed. If you don’t have a women’s section, make one. And make sure it’s near the front. Women’s purchasing power in the U.S. ranges from $5 trillion to $15 trillion annually.
If you want to create an event for women, contact Nicole Nash, ATA’s range and retail programs manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (502) 640-0944.