Look Out! The Ladies are Armed
By Rachel Stern
Signal Staff Writer
If you're already wondering what you might get your favorite gal for her birthday, perhaps you should turn your attention to one of the fastest growing recreational activities for women - shooting sports. Hunting and target shooting, often assumed to be the exclusive province of men, are growing in popularity with women.
A new survey by the National Sporting Goods Association shows that women are participating in hunting and shooting in ever-greater numbers. According to the survey, 72 percent more women are hunting with firearms today than five years ago and 50 percent more are target shooting. Women are using rifles, handguns and airguns. The numbers further show that approximately three million women now hunt and over five million women shoot as a hobby, making up about 15 percent of the shooting, hunting and firearms community.
Some reasons include programs specifically designed to introduce women and girls to the traditionally male sports, as well as manufacturers waking up to a new market and designing products especially for women. For instance, a women's gun usually has a 28-inch barrel, whereas a men's gun will typically have a barrel of 30 inches.
Barbara Garrett, of Newhall, passed her one-year shooting anniversary in January. She started shooting after receiving a shotgun as a Christmas present.
"I had asked for a shotgun or a tractor," said Garrett, who owns a house in Castaic where the tractor would have come in handy.
Garrett loves the sport, and especially appreciates its fostering of excellent hand-eye coordination......
Fine, who is president of the California Clay Busters Trap Club and League, is thrilled with the increase in women and girls participating in the shooting sports. Brower is Treasurer of the Club.
"I have students as young as 13 or 14," said Fine. "They can absolutely shoot on the same level as boys and men.".....
.....Lydia Parsons, 17, a home-schooled 11th grader from Northridge, is one of Fine's prize pupils. Just last week she took the "High Ladies" trophy at the Scholastic Invitational at Oak Tree. Parsons shoots with a Beretta 391 semi-automatic shotgun and a steady hand. She's been shooting for three years now, having been introduced to the sport by her father......
...."What I enjoy, in addition to the whole competitive thing," said Lydia Parsons, "is being able to compete on a level, broad playing field with boys and girls where physical strength doesn't matter - something I couldn't get with soccer."
Lydia Parsons said her mother Marci Parsons is "very encouraging," to her in her pursuit, which she hopes to continue after she goes to college.
"She thinks it's great," said Lydia Parsons. "She displays my trophies around the house."
"Young girls have all the opportunities to excel in shooting sports as boys do. They can be state and national champions," said Fine.
The earlier in life children begin to shoot the better, according to Fine. Shooting fosters good hand-eye coordination and concentration, he said. "Ninety percent of shooting is focus," said Fine. "The rest is fundamentals."
All In the Family
Brower, who shoots with a Browning 12-gauge shotgun and has been part of the trap shooting club for six and half years, calls her fellow club members "a fascinating group," who, notwithstanding coming from different professions and backgrounds, all love the sport.
"It is a great sport and the people are very nice," said Brower. "I have found that a lot of men wish their wives or girlfriends enjoyed the sport like the women who shoot in the Thursday night league do."