This is the second installment in a three-part series on the 2010 SHOT Show.)
The sheer amount of product available for viewing at the SHOT Show is almost overwhelming. It would be impossible for one person to see it all, much less really give everything an honest try.
We at TFG did our absolute best to see as much as possible and get a feel of the direction of the industry as well as bring back information on products Texas hunters and shooters can benefit from.
It did not take long on the showroom floor to see the impact women are having on the market. There were dozens of new products specifically geared toward women ranging from clothes to weaponry.
A few years ago I remember seeing an upstart company called She Safari (now She Outdoor Apparel) in a tiny booth barely big enough to get around in. This year I interviewed the company’s founder Pam Zaitz in a spacious display showing huge growth and innovation.
“We want women to have functional hunting clothes that actually fit them and to look stylish at the same time,” Zaitz said.
Zaits, a longtime hunter, said she hears testimony after testimony from women who have been wanting to get into the sport but either didn’t feel welcomed or could not find the proper gear.
“Things are different now and we are seeing women as the largest growing demographic in this industry,” Zaitz said.
Russell Outdoors showed off a growing line of women’s related outdoors clothing ranging from practical form-fitting camouflage to ladies t-shirts with killer outdoors logos, often outlined with a bit of pink of course.
Wilderness Dreams offered something for the women (and the guys methinks) with their camouflage lingerie and swimsuit pieces.
A big theme of this year’s show was outdoors apparel is not just for the deer or duck lease. It is a lifestyle that can be worn around town and sported as proudly as anyone’s football jersey or even fine fashion. I’ve gotta admit, camo and pink looks kind of cool.
The well respected Ithaca Gun Company is producing a shotgun specifically designed for the woman’s body. TFG staffer Nicole McKibbin put one of their standard shotguns to her shoulder and then one of their lady’s models and was surprised by the difference.
Charter Arms were drawing attention with their Pink Lady revolver.
The Pink Lady is chambered for .38 Special +P, boasts an exposed hammer, 2-inch stainless steel barrel and 5-round stainless steel cylinder. Set off by black rubber grips, the overall package is a looker for folks who need reliable self-defense power in a stylish great-looking firearm.
Charter Arms recognizes concealment can be a challenge with some revolvers so they developed the Pink Lady Off Duty.
This enclosed hammer double action revolver is ideal for tucking in a waistband, under a shirt or in a pocket because the enclosed hammer will never snag on clothing at the wrong time.
Concealed carry in the women’s market is growing in a huge way causing many companies to make slim profile guns easy to tuck into a purse or pocket.
Ruger has their LCP in .380 Auto which is only 5.16 inches long and .82 wide, recognizing the awareness of a rising need to protect themselves is occurring with hundreds of thousands of women around the country and yet guns carried by men are not always practical.
What I got from the show was the industry is finally getting it with women. Now companies are creating women based products not to create a niche but fill one and that is a great sign.
The numbers don’t lie.
According to Reuters, a recent study by the National Sporting Goods Association estimates more than 3 million women now hunt, accounting for about 16 percent of the nearly 21 million active hunters in the United States.
“The study, which covered 2001 to 2005, found that 2.4 million women hunted with firearms in 2005, up 72 percent from 2001. Fifty percent more are target shooting, while the number of women bow-hunters has grown 176 percent to 786,000.”
“The fastest-growing age groups are women aged 18 to 24, followed by those aged 35 to 44,” they reported.
Having women involved in the outdoors is a crucial link to passing on the lifestyle to the coming generations. There are many single mom households that will now be hunting households due to the fact women are feeling empowered to take part in this grand tradition.
And the free market is responding by creating items that work for women and that they actually want to buy. This the kind of thing that makes the capitalistic model work and at SHOT 2010 it shined brightly despite current political concerns.
An added benefit for we outdoor communicators is we no longer have to exclusively interview the Larry Weisuhns and Jackie Bushmans of the world.
Those guys are awesome for what they do but so are ladies like Pam Zaitz and Tiffany Lakosky of Outdoors Channel fame, giving us a unique perspective on the outdoors.
And you have to admit, they are much easier on the eyes.