America’s New Shooters: Increasingly Female, Younger and Urban

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posted on August 24, 2019
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Photo courtesy of Germaine Bello Adams.

Retirement age or even older country rednecks—such is the cliché view of an American gun owner as perpetuated by the mainstream media and its anti-Second Amendment comrades. It’s a smear job, no doubt, and conveniently neglects to tell another very important story. This is that millions of women and minorities have become gun owners and shooters in recent years.

In fact, the new gun owner is also much younger than traditional gun owners and more likely to not live in rural locations.

Data supplied by the good people at the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) reveals that the number of “target shooters” in the nation rose from 34.4 million Americans in 2009 to 52.1 million Americans in 2018—a jump of 51% in “new target shooters.” For data-gathering purposes, NSSF research defined “new target shooter” as someone who had begun shooting in the past five years and had not shot beforehand.

According to NSSF statistics, the new target shooter is more likely to be female and younger than established shooters. A full 47% (nearly half) of the new target shooters are women—compared to just 22% of established shooters being female. The average age of the new shooters is 34 years old, while the average age for established shooters is 45.

Meanwhile, 47% of these new shooters live in urban and suburban locales. Also a smaller but growing percentage of these new shooters are from minority groups.

Most of the new target shooters are also new gun owners. Some may use firearms from a friend or family member, and a few may be target shooters by renting firearms at shooting ranges. But most have purchased a firearm.

 “It’s generally self-defense concerns driving the growing number of females and other non-traditional groups to buy a gun for the first time and enter the shooting sports,” noted Mark Duda, owner of Responsive Management, the research firm which performs much of NSSF’s data gathering and presentation.

He added, “Well, the stereotype of older, rural males being shooters is still true for shooters who have been doing it for a long time. But it is the new shooters who look so different: younger, female, and from an urban or suburban area. Generally speaking, they are not hunters. Pretty interesting and important dynamics that are changing the face of the American gun owner and shooter.”

In fact, women are the fastest-growing segment in the target-shooting population. Between 2001 and 2016, male participation in target shooting was up by just over 14% compared to female participation, which grew by a whopping 81%, according to an NSSF report called, “Target Shooting in America: 2018.”

“We also measured other, non-traditional new shooter audiences, of which minorities were looked at and the trends are similar,” Duda noted. “Many more minorities are becoming new target shooters, and females represent a large block of those new shooters and, male or female, about half of these new minority shooters live in urban areas.”

So, the next time you hear someone repeating stereotypes about gun owners, you might want to let them know they are incorrect.

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