Photos courtesy of Karen Butler, president/founder of Shoot Like A Girl.
Popularity continues to increase in an innovative way for women to become familiar and hone their skills with firearms through the Shoot Like A Girl 2019 Great American Tour.
This year about 2,455 women participated in the mobile firearms, range-training program that is housed in a traveling semi-tractor trailer.
“It is extremely popular,” Karen Butler, president and founder of Shoot Like A Girl (SLG2 Inc.) told America’s 1st Freedom. “This year we’ve had the longest lines we have ever had, with people waiting for half an hour before we even opened.”
Some female participants visit the range in order to overcome fear of firearms, which is something that the instructors help them to accomplish.
“We never know the experience of someone coming to the trailer. We’ve had ladies who witnessed gun violence, gun suicides or were victims of violence themselves,” Butler commented. “It is always amazing to watch them overcome their fears with such courage.”
The trailer (53 feet long, 8 feet wide and 13.5 feet tall) contains a military-grade firearm simulator that allows women age 16 and older to practice shooting a 9 mm pistol and .223 rifle. There is also a live-fire archery range. The program is completely free of cost.
“I started the company because I wanted every women to feel the confidence that comes from aiming at a target, squeezing the trigger or releasing an arrow and feeling that inner pride that comes from hitting where you were aiming,” said Butler. “It is a confidence that can transcend to so many other places of your life.”
The firearm simulator allows women to experience recoil, sight alignment and sound without firing a projectile. This simulation training process is revolutionary, Butler said, because it is effective and has never before been done on such a large scale.
“The guns we shoot, although simulated, are real. They are modified with technology, but unchanged in operation and looks,” Butler said.
NRA Certified instructors introduce new shooters to safety, stance, correct grip, trigger press and other practical aspects of shooting before allowing them to shoot 10 simulated rifle and pistol rounds. Experienced shooters are also welcome to practice and receive coaching from instructors.
“We shoot an AR-platform rifle in the trailer, now that these guns have a bad reputation in mainstream media. We have changed many minds after they see how much fun it is, how easy it is to adjust to their size, and how accurate they are,” said Butler. “We love talking about it.”
Outside the trailer, participants can handle inoperable guns from manufacturers including Glock, Springfield, Ruger, Beretta, Walther, Colt, Savage and Tikka to learn about different firearm models and find one that suits them best.
“We have a process of going through those guns one by one, until the client determines what she likes best,” said Butler. “The decision is uninfluenced by our instructors that work with them. It helps women pick the gun that is most comfortable to them.”
Participants interested in archery can practice shooting with a bow after receiving safety instructions; the range offers several different bow options to choose from.
Women who participate represent a broad spectrum of society. Participants belong to every ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and political affiliation, according to Butler.
“These women are so diverse and that is so uplifting,” said Butler. “The only common denominator about these women other than gender is the smiles on their faces when they walk out of the range.”
The program has drawn between 2,700 and 3,000 participants in previous years and continues to be popular. Not only have women participated, but also some men unfamiliar with guns have tried their hand at shooting for the first time.
In addition to providing a practical experience of shooting, the program provides education about firearm safety. Inside the trailer, the NRA Firearm Safety rules are displayed prominently. According to Butler, participants who are initially afraid of guns are shown that they can channel that fear into responsibility and caution.
“We tell them it is good to have a healthy fear because it makes them a better safe and responsible gun owner,” Butler said.
Butler encourages women who may feel intimidated by the idea of shooting to try the program. It gives them an opportunity to gain new confidence through experience, and at the very least, learn about firearm safety.
“It is fun, uplifting, empowering and joyful – it’s kind of hard to turn the opportunity away,” Butler said. “Plus it is free. Our corporate partners fund our travel so we never charge the women we are trying to reach.”
Of participants interviewed so far this year, 70% commit to buying a gun and 44% plan to purchase a firearm in the future. Only 5% had already purchased a gun. Additionally, 37% commit to buying a bow and 26% intend to buy one in the future. Moreover, 28% of participants express that they are now interested in hunting.
Asked why women should learn to shoot, Butler said it is a lifelong skill that can benefit women in many ways.
“It is a sport that you can do forever, regardless of your physical limitations or fitness level—it is really the most versatile sport for a diverse group of women,” Butler noted. “That is really the ‘why’ of Shoot Like A Girl, and the huge side benefit is we encourage women to learn and practice for personal protection.”
The program will continue next year and the mobile tractor-trailer range will be available to women at many locations across different states. As interest in the program continues to increase, Butler intends to keep spreading the word and encouraging women to learn. Her goal for the future?
“To keep growing, keep reaching more women and sharing the passion and love for shooting sports!” she said.