Thank you for being interested in your significant woman’s (wife, sister, mom, girlfriend, etc.) gun choice and subsequent training! You are awesome. She’s not sure what she needs right now, and for her to have a positive experience she likely needs to talk to a woman about various issues. A woman has different physiology and needs than you do, and will have special considerations in order for her to operate and/or conceal a gun effectively. Women have a LOT of questions about conceal carry options that a man simply can’t understand.
Men are nearly always surprised at a woman’s proficiency and interest in firearms. Men (and some women) are certainly ALWAYS surprised that I re-load my own ammunition. Please be aware of this unconscious bias that a lot of people have. Ladies love to shoot everything, precision rifle, bow and arrow, pistols, shotgun, and sporting shotgun. They love to compete, re-load, and more just the same as men. Most instructors I know agree that women generally are better shooters because they are willing to listen and don’t think they know it all.
Women think about guns a lot differently than men do. As a result of differences in anatomy and upper body strength we need to operate it slightly different than you do. If you see her racking the pistol differently than you do it, that’s okay. My philosophy is the 10/10/10 method. If it works for 10 people with 10 guns in 10 different situations, then it’s good for everyone to use. By distributing the effort to both arms, the cross-arm racking motion allows women to use their pistol quickly and effectively. This method uses large muscle groups instead of the muscles in the forearm. It will also work for you! Try it.
Women also love shooting with other women in a supportive, non-judgemental environment where they feel like no one is watching everything they do. Yes, we maintain the strictest safety measures and she will be just fine. Tears are common with women on the range. Sometimes that scary bang overwhelms people at the start. Or there is past trauma that shooting brings up and she is trying to work through it. Being with other women is way less embarrassing than being with a mixed crowd where you don’t want to break out in tears. Those tears have been from excitement too!
Many times women show up at the range or for a class with a revolver in the box. When asked why they chose that gun the response is usually “the man at the gun store said a revolver will be best for me so that’s what I bought”. A revolver is a good choice for certain situations and I love me some wheel guns, but a revolver is usually NOT the best first gun choice for a number of reasons:
- Can’t reload quickly if needed
- The grip needed for a revolver actually results in less grip on the gun. You have to learn how to keep your hands out of the way of the blast cone.
- The kick of a small revolver hurts women a lot. A small snub nosed revolver in .38 Special hurts my hand and I shoot a lot! Now give/sell her a box of .357 Magnum and the kick is significantly more and more painful. Most women in this situation are afraid of that gun because it hurts!
- The sight picture on a revolver can be a lot harder to acquire, especially for a beginner. Some of them just have a channel to line up with a small obscure front sight. I don’t consider a revolver a beginner gun.
So, in light of these issues here are some questions to consider to make sure your wife or girlfriend gets the right gun to suit her needs:
- Do you really know what she needs?
- Should you be making the decision for her?
- Do you understand why she needs a gun?
- Are you someone who shoots regularly and are familiar with different training styles?
- Have you ever taken a training class that had a woman in it, or been in a match that had women competing?
- Have you ever taken a class with a woman instructor?
I highly recommend that you have HER be involved in any choices made and buy her a seat in a beginner class such as the NRA Basic Pistol, a Conceal Carry & Home Defense Fundamentals class or a Women’s Beginner Handgun class with a woman instructor. Many women enroll in our classes BEFORE they’ve made a decision which gun to purchase. This is an excellent strategy. And takes away a lot of the stress of the unknowns. It’s much better to empower her and give her the gift of knowledge. At those classes, she can shoot several types of guns and get an idea of safety features, gun fit, caliber, gun size and more. That class will give her confidence! And confidence is powerful.
Women are THE LARGEST growing segment in the shooting world. In the last few years, the gun industry has responded with lots of new features on products tailored to women and common issues they experience as new shooters. Some of those are gimmicky and some are legit. I love a colored gun too! But, if it has a pink or tiffany blue tax on it, I’m not going to consider it. The Shield EZ line of pistols has been a game changer for older women and those that have weak grip strength because it’s easier to rack the slide. That is a big benefit to an entire market segment. Thank you Smith & Wesson!
There are incredibly effective ways to manage recoil. The smallest woman can run a .45ACP pistol with no problems at all. Proper gun fit, stance and grip are what is essential. I’ve seen so many women that have a .22LR pistol because they think they can’t handle the recoil. This is largely a self-confidence issue that can easily be addressed by proper stance and grip. We address those basic, super important, shooting fundamentals in every class. We also have pistols of all sizes and calibers for students to try in our classes.
We offer new-shooter friendly classes to all. A complete list of our current classes (including women specific classes) can be found at this link: