Athena Means didn’t take up shooting until her 30s, and then only as a way to protect herself and her family. Little did she know that she’d learn to love the shooting sports, even becoming involved in competitive shooting a few years down the road.
Disappointed with the lack of gear and accessories that appealed to her sense of fashion, Athena launched GunGoddess.com. Now she has made the shooting sports, and her shooting-related business, a way of life.
I’m not a firearms instructor. I’m not a professional competitor. And I didn’t grow up a shooter—I was in my 30s when I first went to a gun range. I’m just a woman who learned to shoot for self-defense, then discovered that the same tools that keep me safe can be a lot of fun, too!
I have never feared guns. I just never had much interest in them, until a one-year overseas deployment loomed for my husband. We had guns at home, and he thought I should learn how to use them. It was a turning point for me. It made me realize that I couldn’t—and shouldn’t—rely on someone else being there to protect me. I now believe very strongly that every woman owes it to herself to not be defenseless; to learn the skills and have the tools that could protect her life and the lives of her loved ones.
On my first day at the range, I was caught by surprise—I managed to hit my target, my hits were good and I actually enjoyed the experience! I wanted more. Step by step, my comfort level grew along with my skill level. I became a gun owner myself, and obtained a concealed-carry permit. For the next several years, I viewed guns as purely serving a defensive purpose.
Discovering the shooting sports was the next turning point for me. A self-defense tool now also became a way to both challenge myself and have a lot of fun! I started competing with a handgun, but recently discovered how much fun 3-gun matches can be. Now I’m excited about this new challenge!
For me, shooting went from being a defensive skill to becoming a hobby, and then turned into a passion—one I very much wanted to share with other women. That’s how the idea for GunGoddess.com was sparked.
I was spending more and more time at the range, but was having trouble finding gear and accessories that appealed to me. My goal became to source holsters, range bags, accessories and apparel specifically created for women, and to make those products easily available to other women. I believe—and I hear it from my customers, too—that better availability of products, designed and sized for women’s bodies, in feminine colors and patterns, do encourage women to want to spend more time shooting, carrying and training.
Today’s NRA represents a growing number of women who take responsibility for their personal safety, who train to improve their skill level and who also enjoy having fun with their firearms. When there’s a gun in our hands, we are focused, safety-conscious and serious. But there’s no reason that firearms, femininity, fun and function can’t all go together!
Having lived in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, I am so grateful for the way of life and the freedoms that we enjoy in the United States, including the Second Amendment. But these rights and freedoms are at risk, and it’s up to us to ensure that we fight to keep them. The gun control mission is a long-term one. To keep our fight alive, we must teach a new generation of shooters, and we must motivate others to become gun owners themselves.
As gun owners, we do our part by talking about, living and sharing our lifestyle and our beliefs. It’s how we make them more “mainstream,” more accessible and more acceptable, and it’s how our numbers grow. I just like to do it with a little added bling!