Shoot Like a Girl
The recent surge of advertising campaigns intended to help build confidence in the fairer sex (think the Always® “Like a Girl” ads that played during last year's Super Bowl or the #HeForShe campaign on Twitter) made me realize that I have been truly fortunate. The idea of “gender equality” might be a hot topic on social media, but it is a long-settled principle in academics and the shooting sports.
If you haven't read this article about the NRA's recent decision to drop the "woman" category from the smallbore National Matches, fix that right now... read it! The NRA Blog nailed it.
Women shooters placed first in each of the two aggregate matches that determined last year's Conventional 3-Position Champion. Regardless of how you looked at each match's final results, these women beat everyone else, but they still also received High Woman awards. Should a High Man award be presented when a woman wins? This isn't the only example, either. Female shooters have won and placed plenty of times over the past couple decades.
"Women are rightly viewed as equals in today's America," said Moody. "Shouldn't our championships reflect that attitude as well?"
I did some data analysis on the results of the NCAA rifle championships (coming up March 11-12) since 1980, and the data backs up the NRA's claims. While I don't have data on the total number of competitors, the championships are pretty evenly distributed among the sexes, and women have won more air rifle championships than men have in the last 36 years!
As a lifelong shooter, I have confidence based on evidence, not just a hashtag. Every time I shoot a perfect shot, every time I handle my guns safely at the range, and in every shooting competition I enter, I know that I can shoot #LikeAGirl and perform well against anyone, regardless of gender. Want to teach confidence to the women in your life? Get them started in the shooting sports.
At my first smallbore rifle National Matches at Camp Perry, I competed alongside my father and hundreds of others of all ages and both genders, which was such a fantastic experience for me during a formative time in my life. As other shooters reached out to me and encouraged me, and I put in hours of practice at the range, I saw a dramatic improvement in my skills. Four years later at the same match, I helped my team of four teenagers – two of us female and two male – beat a stiff wind and competition to win the national championship. Talk about a confidence booster!
Rifle shooting took me through some of the most elite levels of competition, and into adulthood I stayed involved by coaching the next generation. I truly believe the shooting sports are perfect for developing skills that reach beyond the range. Integrity, teamwork, discipline. These lessons apply to young men and women equally. And as athletes grow up within the American shooting sports they will find this experience becomes so ingrained that lifelong shooters find campaigns for gender equality to be unnecessary.
In the summer of 2015 the NRA hosted the national long range rifle championships at Camp Perry. Longtime competitor and multi-time national champion Nancy Tompkins won the whole shebang. Joining her on the podium in second place was SSG Amanda Elsenboss of the Army Marksmanship Unit. These women are carrying on the legacy already established by shooters like Julie Golob, Launi Meili, and Margaret Murdock. Time and again, from your local gun club on up to the World Championships, women prove on the range that they are equal competitors with men. And if it is true on the range, it is certainly true in the office, the classroom, and at home… So what are you waiting for? Bring your daughter (and any other women in your life) to the range!