More Women, Suburbanites Are Shooting

We’ve noted before that the fastest growing demographics amount gun owners are young, urban, and female. That nation trend is now being noticed by the media:

The sports aspect of shooting guns may not be restricted to country boy stereotype anymore, as new statistics show the emerging face of today’s shooter is vastly different.

Almost half of today’s first time gun buyers in the country are female (48 percent of gun owners), usually purchasing a gun for self-defense and self-sufficiency. Also, most people buying guns today for the first time include people ages 22-30 living in suburban areas, according to a survey by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which keeps a tally on all things related on firearms retail trends.

“The gun retailers themselves don’t keep track of the data,” says Bill Brassard, senior director of communications for the NSSF. “We tally them by what we see in background checks.”

An online survey of U.S. consumers was also conducted by the NSSF.

The organization, based in Newtown, Connecticut, releases annual reports, which in recent years show that first time gun buyers today are “active, using their gun on average once per month or more and are already participating in one or more shooting activities.”

Of these first time gun purchases, 87 percent are for home defense, 76 percent are for self defense and 63 percent of this demographic say they always wanted to own a gun. First time buyers are spending an average of $500 on their first gun.

This trend is also part of the reason that some ammunition (particularly .380, ACP 9mm, .223 Remington, and .22LR) can be tough to find at times.

Many of the new female shooters are gravitating towards .380 ACP and 9mm semi-automatic pistols for self-defense, and .22LR pistols for practice (if they buy a second handgun). These female and suburban shooters also seem drawn to .22LR and .223 Remington/5.56 NATO AR-15 pattern rifles, due to the modularity, good ergonomics, accuracy, and low recoil of the platform in both centerfire and rimfire platforms.

Interestingly enough, many women and urban/suburban shooters drawn to shooting sports that tend to use significant quantities of ammunition ( competition shooting, for example) versus pursuits like hunting, which tend to use much lower quantities of ammunition in a day afield.

There aren’t organizations I’m aware of that are tracking ammunition spending and shooting patterns on an individual level, so it is difficult to get  hard data on who is buying what ammunition, and for what purposes. We’re left to deal with anecdotal reports from individual ranges, observations from range staff, and commentary from trainers/instructors, and shooters themselves.

It does appear that shooting is far more social and socially acceptable than it once was, and that mixed-sex and women’s only groups are far more prevalent than they once were. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that shooters are firing more rounds per range trip than they once were.

When the majority of shooters were firing centerfire rifle cartridges in bolt-action rifles designed for hunting big game animals, it was typical for round counts to be low… less than 40 rounds. Now that shooters are gravitating towards less-punishing, lower-recoiling intermediate-caliber and rimfire rifles, round counts are often 100 rounds per range session, or more.  I can’t seem to get data on any changes in round-count for pistol shooting. Most shooters (again, going on anecdotal evidence) seem to be firing roughly the same 1-2 50-round boxes they were previously, it’s just that firing lines are typically filled with more shooters than they once were.

This influx of new shooters is a wonderful “problem” to have, despite the strain that it has placed on the ammunition supply, and are likely the reason we’re seeing a continued expansion of gun rights, no matter how loudly the forces of gun control scream.

We’re experiencing a Renaissance in American shooting. Enjoy it!