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Shoot Like A Girl: Tips for Getting Yourself Into Guns

Hey, girl — you ever long for something, but feel that it’s not possible for you? Maybe you window shop, dream about it, plan for your someday…but just aren’t ready to take the plunge

hey girl shooting as a woman

We feel you. 

After all, the firearms world is kinda a boys’ club.

It can feel a little lonely as a woman (or anyone who identifies as not a heterosexual cis-man) around here, but not to worry. You’re far from alone, and you don’t need to have a male shooter in your life to get started.

CCW Range Practice
The ladies of PPT love going to the range solo or with other gal pals!

If shooting is something you want to do, girl, you do it!

We’re just here to help you accomplish that safely, without wasting a ton of money, and maybe give you some tips on how to handle being the coolest gal in the room.

gilda me
Yes, you, you little minx!

Sound good? Awesome! Let’s hit it!

Note: While our women’s content is written with women in mind, this article, and others, are also for my LGBTQ+ readers, too — that includes you, enbies and trans friends. I know you’re out there, and I know you also deserve content.

Feel free to ask questions or give feedback on how to make this column a nice cozy space for us to talk about stuff!

Plate carrier and Shield EZ

Table of Contents

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Meet Your Guides

Now, unless you scrolled all the way down to the bottom of this article before reading it, you might not have noticed that I am, in fact, a girl. 

Alley with rifle
Hi! It me.

Specifically, I’m one of several ladies that work for or with Pew Pew Tactical — Jacki and I are your humble editors here — so rest assured that we’ve been there.

Personally, I started shooting as a kid with my dad. But it wasn’t until years later when I moved out of the house and was on my own, that I got back into shooting. I took a job in the gun industry and bought my first gun — one I picked out and registered to myself, no dad involved.

Shield EZ 9 with bullets
This is my first baby, the M&P Shield EZ 9mm!

Fortunately, I had a lot of support from the wonderful Pew Pew Crew, but it was still intimidating…and I was a professional gun writer! 

don't worry I'm a professional
It’s a lot easier to tell y’all what to do than it is to do it!

Now, I’m a solo shooter.

My partner isn’t interested in guns beyond a little Call of Duty, so I don’t have a range buddy built-in with my relationship.

cats biting ear
“Babe, babe, babe, baby, babe…wanna go to the range?”

Sometimes, I tag along with my coworkers, but when I need range time, it’s on me to get my butt out there and practice. It’s also on me to know my stuff so that I can shoot safely, critique my own technique, and care for my guns.

Jacki, my fellow editor and concealed carry pro, broke into shooting on her own when she was in college. She’s shared a lot of great ideas about how we gals can get ourselves into shooting, too.

While we’re not the only women who go shooting on our own, we’re definitely here to help you find your confidence and hit the range!

Concealed Carry Glock 19
Jacki, ready to kick ass with her Glock 19!

So, if you like what you see here, keep us in mind — if you didn’t notice, we’re putting our woman-centered articles every Wednesday so there will be more content to follow!

Girls and Guns

So, it’s no secret that more and more women are becoming interested in gun ownership. In fact, we did a whole detailed look into female gun owners, but for those who want the short version… here’s the TL;DR.

Women Guns NRA
(Photo: NRA)

In 2003, only 13 percent of women surveyed by Pew Research Center professed to owning a gun. By 2020, that number was up to almost 25 percent! The National Sporting Goods Association has documented a 43.5 percent increase in female hunters, and it’s estimated that there are about 5.4 million female target shooters.

In short — there’s A LOT of ladies out there pulling triggers.

Some are hunters, some are competitive shooters, some enjoy plinking, and some just have a firearm for self-defense. No matter what you are interested in, you’ll be in good company!

Home Defense AR-15
Us when we hear you trash talking new shooters.

Anyways, now that we’ve talked about all that, let’s talk about how one gets into guns!

How to Start Shooting

Honestly, there’s no wrong or right way to get into shooting.

If you feel confident buying a Glock, taking yourself to the range, and getting down to it — you go, girl!

If you want a little more support, we’ve got you! 

Women & Guns
Just the essentials!

Here are our seven tips to get you started on the right (and safe!) path to becoming Annie Oakley in your own right.

1. Take a Class

Okay, well, duh, I hear you saying, but it’s true. 

cloud with a chance of meatballs raise hand
Classes are a great place to ask questions!

Hands down, the best way to get started is to get yourself signed up for an introduction to shooting course. After all, these courses and instructors are specifically designed to cater to newbies and first-time nerves.

They’re meant to be a safe place to explore shooting — not to make you feel intimidated!

Low kneeling all the way to the ground, in the rain, during a Massad Ayoob Group class.
More advanced classes give you a chance to practice skills — before you need them!

Every course isn’t made equally, though, nor is every instructor. If you book a class through your local range, there’s a chance you might end up with a perfectly competent and qualified instructor that you just don’t vibe with.

I get it — men can teach women to shoot, but do you know who is even better at it? Women. 

rosie the riveter poster

I recommend checking out some of the resources available to us, thanks to all the other awesome gun gals who want to help!

A Girl and A Gun is a really cool organization that has local chapters all over, and every chapter is headed by a certified instructor.

Guns and Kids Class
Melody Lauer, a female shooting instructor, teaching The Armed Parent/Guardian course.

You can also just look for a female instructor near you.

If you happen to catch one of their workshops, Shoot Like a Girl is another organization that travels the country to teach women about firearms, archery, hunting, shooting, and more.

Shoot Like A Girl Event
Shoot Like A Girl event

I think Shoot Like a Girl events are worth the time if you can attend one since they pack pretty much every aspect of Firearms 101 into their mobile range. Then walk you through it all!

Shoot-Like-A-Girl-Mobile-Range-2019-600x305
The Shoot Like a Girl mobile range!

If you’re a little nervous about jumping into a class right off the bat, consider the Gun Noob course.

It is video-centric and walks you through all the aspects of gun ownership you’ll need. It’s a great starter and will have you feeling a little more confident before you head to a physical class.

2. Do Your Research

Obviously, I’m going to recommend Pew Pew Tactical as a great resource for newbs of all stripes — though I might be a little biased.

We do boast several really neat female writers and, as I mentioned, two female editors.

This means we like to make sure we don’t leave it up to the dudes to tell you what kind of concealed carry style your hips won’t allow…or that your only option is a pink Ruger LCP.

eye roll
Boy, whatchu even talkin’ about?

I also recommend some other woman-owned, woman-operated sites to check. After all, more resources are always better!

First up is The Cornered Cat.

Written by firearms instructor Kathy Jackson, The Cornered Cat is a treasure trove of insight and knowledge from a woman who has close to two decades of experience in the firearms industry and specializes in concealed carry and self-defense shooting.

Kathy Jackson, The Cornered Cat
Kathy Jackson, The Cornered Cat

Go there to learn everything you need to know about getting started, choosing a gun, concealed carry, and pretty much any other topic you could imagine!

Next, I want to take a moment to look at The Well Armed Woman, which is pretty much a one-stop shop for all things girls and guns.

This site was founded by Carrie Lightfoot, who became interested in defensive firearms and quickly realized that there weren’t too many resources out there for women shooters.

Carrie Lightfoot
Carrie Lightfoot, The Well Armed Woman

They have reviews, how-tos, an instructor and club finder tool, and so, so much more. If you look nowhere else, look there.

3. Buddy Up

Look, we go to the restroom in a group for a reason. There’s safety in numbers, even if the thing you’re guarding against is anxiety.

Gather your gals together and go to the range as a group.

Even if your besties don’t want to get further than a casual girl’s range night once a month, you can at least get a little moral support from your pals.

head on swivel
Moving around the range with my girls

Not to mention, some ranges specifically host girls’ night events to attract female gun owners. So, you might get a little discount on those nights. Plus, you also benefit from meeting other lady shooters and making connections.

That way, if your friends aren’t into it, you have a few contacts in your phone you can dial up for a range meetup!

4. Try Before You Buy

So, if you didn’t notice, firearms aren’t a cheap hobby — especially right now, during the pandemic/civil unrest/supply chain issues mess

money-gone
Pretty much.

You can absolutely get plinking for a few hundred dollars down on a cheap .22 pistol…but if you don’t want to throw bennies after twenties, you’re going to want to rent a variety of guns to try out.

Some of us get lucky enough to have access to tens of thousands of dollars worth of firearms and gear through work. But the rest of y’all best be checking out the rental counter at your local range.

It’s worth noting that not every range offers rentals, so give them a ring before you head over with a head full of plans. 

Long Range Testing PSA AR-10
Ranges can vary greatly, but they all serve the same general purpose — a place to pew pew.

I cannot recommend renting enough, though.

You not only get to try a bunch of guns without the commitment — you can also try out different calibers, different shooting styles, and sports. You can even ask a ton of questions from someone who works with these guns all day long. 

While you might get some “see here, little lady” types, most fellow shooters and gun enthusiasts are really happy to talk with you about what they recommend and why.

Most of them are also pretty happy to see more and more women becoming interested in firearms, too!

Indoors Range Shooting
Indoor ranges are another option, too!

And if they aren’t…well, they’re not worth listening to in the first place. Trust me.

5. Ask Questions

While you might not encounter too many women at the range, when you do, ask them questions!

Generally speaking, we’re pretty happy to see you, too, since we’re used to being the only one. We will want to see you come back and have fun. #girlcode

happy dog
Real time footage of what happens in my brain when I see another girl at the range!

Personally, I love when other gals at the range want to chat.

Please come take the stall next to me. We’re besties now, and I want to gossip with you and cheer when you hit the bullseye.

You also have the comments sections on articles like these, where knowledgeable editors, and sometimes even the author, will respond to you.

It’s like having a gun expert in your pocket!

Expert
Just sayin’…

I will say that there can be the very rare occasion where another female shooter might see you as competition or something, but that’s on her, not on you.

If you do get rebuffed, please don’t give up.

I promise you that for every “pick me” girl out there, there’s a dozen who want you to succeed.

6. Visit Local Competitions

This might be a little less possible during the pandemic when competitions are limiting spectators and attendees for, but it won’t always be that way. 

small bore rifle competition
Small bore rifle competition shooters on the line.

Check out the events calendar at ranges near you to see when competitions are coming up, and come watch!

You’ll learn a lot just from watching. But, bonus, competitive shooters love what they do and are pretty hype to talk with you about it. There also might be a ladies class in the competition to attract other female shooters. 

Who knows? You might even fall in love and start competing. I did!

7. Join a Club

Where is a better place to learn about something than in a club devoted to that very thing? Exactly.

Girl and a gun shooting league

I mentioned A Girl and A Gun further up the article, but I want to revisit them. Not only are they a neat resource, but they also have hundreds of small, local chapters meeting up to educate and train together, lead by a certified instructor.

You can join your nearest chapter for plenty of support and help, and in turn…you’ll one day teach some of the new gals and encourage them!

Woman teaching teens to shoot
It feels good to pass on the knowledge you’ve earned to the next generation.

If a girls-only space isn’t something you’ve got your heart set on (or maybe you feel like it’s not a space you’d be welcomed in), there are dozens of other gun clubs out there to pick from.

Your local range may have a club and there’s almost always a local NRA club or association.

That said, plenty of clubs exist that cater to people of different identities.

Pink Pistols is an organization dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ individuals train and defend themselves, and they have chapters nationally.

You might also feel at home joining an association like the Latino Rifle Association or the National African American Gun Association.

NAAGA Logo

There also are lots of other firearm associations that attract a wide variety of shooters. These are frequently focused on creating safe experiences for shooters of all experience levels and backgrounds

Hanging out with like-minded people is just one of the many benefits of joining a club.

You might also have access to other firearms you can try, people to teach you new things, and even buy-ins for bulk ammo orders.

Foxtrot Mike FM9B Brass Ammo
Sweet, sweet bulk ammo orders!

Conclusion

Getting into firearms as a woman is challenging, and it can be especially intimidating without a male shooter to handle the process, but that absolutely shouldn’t be a thing that stops you.

You have a right to learn a new skill, discover a new hobby, and learn to defend yourself — sex, gender identity, or sexuality have nothing to do with it! I’m really proud of you.

excited
SO HAPPY!

If you’re here, exploring the first steps of gun ownership…congratulations! I am genuinely thrilled for you. Let’s start a beautiful friendship and chat in the comments!

wonder woman
You’re basically Wonder Woman now. I don’t make the rules!

Don’t forget to stay tuned for more woman-centered content, dropping every Wednesday!

Let’s chat! Have questions? Want to share your experiences with new lady shooters? Have a topic you want us to talk about? Leave me a comment below! Since you’re still here, I recommend checking out the Best Pistols for Women — all selected by a woman!

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28 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Lisa

    Thanks for this article. It is just the push I needed to get started on my own!

    August 15, 2021 7:33 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jacki Billings, Editor

      Yay! Glad we could help! BTW, we have a ton of other women's specific articles in our Women's Guide!

      August 16, 2021 7:28 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jeff

    Just wanted to show my appreciation for this article. I'm not in the target audience for this article but I think it covers many insightful points and offers many valuable resources.

    I agree with Mark G, what a shame that many of the previous commenters had overlooked the value that this article brings to a growing and frankly underrepresented part of the 2A community because they feel "offended" and "alienated".

    April 18, 2021 1:17 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jacki Billings, Editor

      Thanks so much for the kind comment! We try our best to help out our fellow gun owners. :)

      August 16, 2021 7:29 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mark G

    I'm not the target audience for this article but I found it important as it gives glimpse into a part of gun culture that I am not privy to. There's a lot of good information in here that I may not need personally, but now it exists as a resource that I can pass on to others should they need it. My absolute favorite part though is all of the guys in the comments that get so defensive when they see the term "cis" posted somewhere that they can't actually see the forest for the trees. Keep up the good work PPT.

    April 18, 2021 12:30 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Andrea

    Thanks for this article! I didn't grow up with guns and first shot a gun when I was in college. I started to get into it a little more after I started working and found myself at home by myself without my husband (traveling for work) more frequently. Hello, paranoid brain! I recently joined a local gun club and am looking to learn more about guns, shooting, and self-defense. I will definitely be checking out these resources!

    April 17, 2021 3:19 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Allison Goodwin, PPT Editor

      I'm so glad I could help, Andrea! Welcome to the club!

      April 17, 2021 7:23 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Fitz

    Well done PPT. Firearms and firearm education are equalizers. We're not all born the same and we aren't all exposed to the magic of what 2A can do for us. If we can inspire any new blessed Americans to catch the fantastic bugs of fun, bang-bang, and freedom here, we should be happy. I think we can respectfully disagree with the ideas coming from the crowd that thinks rights come from a central government and advance our belief in NATURAL rights to anyone over there that happens to stop by. Like Reagan's theory of sharing defense intelligence, we want to help provide our own to any and all.

    April 16, 2021 1:23 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Gentleman Johnny

      Pretty sure the "side" that thinks rights come from the government isn't the side whose public fight for rights started with a riot, who were forbidden by the state from marrying the person they wanted to share a life with and who it's still legal in some states to kidnap, torture and brainwash into "acceptable" citizens. If anything, the "side" that thinks rights come from the government is the center and neither actual side much cares for their compromise.

      April 16, 2021 2:54 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Tmoney

    Yeah, y’all are “woke AF”. Appreciate the “virtue signaling”... would have been a great article without all the labels.

    Time to pull the ripcord, I’m out..

    April 16, 2021 8:52 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jacki Billings

      Hey Tmoney, we feel that using correct terminology and scientific terms is not "woke." It's just accurate, which is what we strive to bring to every article -- accuracy. I invite you to look around our site. I am sure you will find other content that appeals to you! As always, thanks for the feedback.

      April 16, 2021 9:43 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Gfx

      I agree. Very surprised at this.

      April 18, 2021 3:18 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Tim

    I agree with others.
    Use of terms like cis-man, enbie, trans and LGBTQ+ add nothing to this article other than to show how woke the author and editors are. And in using them, you are alienating people who object to those words because of the baggage they carry. If the words were germane to the subject of first-time firearms users, they might be worthwhile, but you could go through the article, remove them, and you would miss nothing from the content.
    I like PPT, but I don't go here to read that sort of agenda-driven writing. There are plenty of other firearms websites.
    You've got my e-mail. Contact me if you go back to objective journalism. Until then...
    See ya.

    April 15, 2021 3:51 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      I'm sorry the message of inclusion to minority groups that are often alienated from the shooting community but are also at much higher risk of being victims of violent crime was offensive to you. Thank you for the feedback.

      April 15, 2021 4:37 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jacki Billings

      Hey Tim, our goal is not to alienate readers -- in fact, it's the opposite. We want to reflect the diversity that is the gun industry and provide content for all facets of the gun community. Some articles, admittedly, won't be your jam. That's okay. I invite you to stick with us and read some of our other content. I am confident you will find something that appeals to you. Nevertheless, thank you for the feedback.

      April 15, 2021 6:24 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Raven

      Yo can I get your wife's email too? She'll thank you dude trust me just like send it over~

      April 15, 2021 7:42 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Fran

    As someone who I believe is the intended audience of this article (new to guns female shooter) I really loved it. I will definitely keep checking back every Wednesday. Keep up the good work, I very much appreciate it.

    April 15, 2021 8:56 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Allison Goodwin, PPT Editor

      Thank you, Fran! I'm so excited you're here, and hope you'll enjoy what we have coming up on Wednesdays.

      April 15, 2021 10:19 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Reese

      Right!? This is so good! I'm so glad when I make new gal pals at the range!

      April 15, 2021 6:24 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    William Smith

    This is not a boast, the only desire is for Everyone to be safe in life and just not be thrown into this world without education in your new adventures, training,
    Rules and Laws of your State, home, and families,
    when you take on the responsibilities of learning your skills and training with your Firearms.

    Women are gifted, very smart, and learn much quickly than man. I have been fussed at for telling people that a woman can shoot more accurate and safely than man. Their mindset is different and very priceless and developed highly to be a woman. That is their purposes and man is great too in their calling and skills, both priceless.

    Please become educated and trained well, so The Instructor here can have some of the greatest classes and positive outcomes. You train with the best; always listen and be the best.

    April 14, 2021 8:27 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Ryan Atchue

    I'm delighted to see new gun owners of any type. I do think though, you should be aware that for those of us not on the LGBT+ spectrum the term cis is as offensive as the n word. In the article, leaving it at heterosexual would more than make your point without offending what is likely a majority of your readers.

    April 14, 2021 7:14 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      "Cis" is shortform for "Cisgender" or "Cissexual" and both are literal science terms that are widely accepted in the scientific and medical communities. I would invite you to read further about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cisgender. If our readers are offended by science or medical terms, there isn't much we can do about that.

      April 14, 2021 7:41 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Billy Blaze

        Long time reader here, and I also agree with Ryan and take offense with the term used. I think your definition of "widely accepted" is over exaggerated. One could say gun control and red flag laws are widely accepted in political and law enforcement communities. Perhaps we should just accept these restrictions to the 2nd amendment because there is a Wikipedia page about it and scientific studies.

        April 15, 2021 10:05 am
        • Commenter Avatar
          David, PPT Editor

          The term has been in use within the scientific and medical communities for about 30 years, that's my entire lifetime. Accepting that a word exists and that it has a specific definition and that definition is not intended to be hurtful is wildly different from accepting policy and legal claims that restrict the rights of people. As I said though, if readers want to be offended due to a scientifically and medically accepted word -- there isn't much we can do about that. We, respectfully, decline to give up our vocabularies just as we decline to give up our other natural rights.

          April 15, 2021 10:22 am
        • Commenter Avatar
          Brendon

          I agree as well. Looks like it's time for me to move on from this site.

          April 15, 2021 2:24 pm
          • Commenter Avatar
            Jacki Billings

            Brendan, this article might not be your jam, but I invite you to stick around PPT. We publish a good batch of articles a week and cater to all facets of the industry. You're bound to find something you enjoy! :)

            April 15, 2021 6:26 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jacki Billings

      As the Managing Editor at PPT, I made a conscious decision to leave cis within the article. We follow AP Stylebook for editorial needs. Cisgendered is recognized by AP as the appropriate terminology relating to those that identify with their assigned gender at birth.

      Allison was not using this in a pejorative manner, but as a description -- an accurate and appropriate use of the term.

      April 15, 2021 10:46 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      SHTF Blog

      It's simply a label, an appropriate label that has no connotation to it at all. It's more offensive to group it with "the n word."

      April 15, 2021 5:17 pm