We’ve all seen the pictures that float around the internet, the advertisements in magazines, or perhaps the YouTube videos of the scantily clad women (usually slathered in baby oil) either posing with or shooting firearms. This is a hot button topic with many female shooters.
A multitude of trained, competitive female shooters and instructors see the industry for more than just the glitz and glamour that may lie ahead or the free swag from companies. The majority of the women in the industry see the empowerment in being a competent shooter and knows the pride in training the next generation of gun enthusiasts. There is much responsibility that goes into being a proficient shooter or a firearms educator.
Unfortunately it’s been my experience that, more often times than not, these models in the industry are less than stellar examples of skillful innocuous weapons handlers. How many pictures have you seen of the girl in the tacti-kini with her ‘booger hook on the bang bang button’ or the one that accidentally discharges a firearm in an unsafe direction because she isn’t properly trained? I’ve seen it far more times than I care to keep up with. I sit there shaking my head wishing someone had taken the time to teach her the proper way to handle a firearm or that companies choose to work with trained shooters as opposed to models who are wanna-be shooters.
As a woman in the industry, who wants to be as respected as her male counterparts, I find these pictures and videos of these models rather bothersome and degrading. I am well aware that these models choose to pose in a sexualized manner, be used in such racy material, or promote themselves with the “sex sells” mentality. I do understand the marketing techniques that many companies use to draw in the male market. Although men are the majority of the market they, aren’t the only ones who shop in the industry. You can be an attractive shooter who has sex appeal while maintaining some modesty and decorum. I find myself wondering what the impact such material has on the young women in shooting sports and those interested in becoming trained shooters.
Most of the junior competitors that I have spoken with about the overly sexualized images/videos in the industry responded that they would never consider being “that girl”. I find myself agreeing with their opinions due to the impact that such media would have on my family and my public image to my sponsors. I have personally turned down a few opportunities to work with certain companies due to my aversion of compromising my morals just to raise my profile.
Never have I looked at a gun bunny and thought “I want to be just like her”, rather I look at women like Julie Golob, Dianna Liedorff, and Kay Miculek with great admiration for their expertise and proficiency as shooters rather than their aesthetics or potential to be sex symbols.
On more than one occasion after a competition, the other ladies and I have spent some time chatting about the industry’s double standard. We have noticed how you don’t see the men of the shooting world removing clothing to raise their social media profile, to sign new sponsors, or to sell a company’s products. I often joke with fellow shooters about my gun bunny status, or lack thereof, simply because they know how it makes my skin crawl.
Personally I strive to distance myself from being considered a gun bunny. I spend my free time training or practicing. I have chosen to be seen for my accolades as a competitive shooter, experience as a certified safety officer, and as a knowledgeable firearms instructor. Many of my fellow female shooters are surrounding themselves with women of the same caliber simply because this is a relatively small industry where reputation means everything. Building a positive reputation (and maintaining that reputation) can be very difficult. I encourage other female shooters to choose the path into the industry that they will be happy with many years down the road.