For 24 years, the Oklahoma City Gun Club has hosted the largest NRA Women on Target Event in the nation where more than 9,000 women and youth have enjoyed a safe and enjoyable introduction to the shooting sports.
This yearly tradition for the Oklahoma City Gun Club started in 1999 when Suzi Rouse was asked for ideas to expand women’s participation at the club. “At that time, my husband and I had been members for a couple years and were active in cowboy action shooting and bench rest shooting divisions. The presence of women on a shooting range was sparse then and my objective was to figure out a way to generate an interest while providing a welcoming and safe environment. Walking into that board meeting not knowing how I was going to be received was unnerving and overwhelming. Of course, all my worrying was for naught, as the Board voted unanimously to create the first ever Women’s Division,” said Suzi, who now volunteers her time as the president of the Oklahoma City Gun Club.
For the first event, the NRA was contacted to see what training support was available. At this time the NRA Women on Target program was being launched. “The timing was perfect, and the information and training materials were invaluable in getting our inaugural women’s instructional shooting program off the ground. In addition, I contacted our local FNRA chapter, applied, and received a grant to train 10 women instructors in pistol, rifle and shotgun and a separate grant to cover the costs of the shooting clinic,” explained Suzi.
The first event in September of 2000 was a resounding success with a newly formed ladies training group and 57 participants. From there word spread and attendance soared. In 2001 registrations doubled, and currently 400 to 500 registrations come in each year. The club now must cap attendance because of the overwhelming response. Women from all over the state, nation, and world have attended, including attendees as far away as Canada and Japan. Notable attendees have also participated including Oklahoma’s first female Governor, Mary Fallin.
The format of the Women’s Fun Shoot has served the event well and has remained the same over the years. The women receive one-on-one instruction on four different types of firearms consisting of 22 rifles, shotguns, handguns, and AR-15 type rifles. All targets are interactive and require no movement downrange to reset targets. This gives women a chance to experience multiple shooting disciplines which has helped women be more knowledgeable with a variety of firearms and in many cases, discover a new part of the shooting sports to pursue.
The event is powered by the significant volunteer efforts of the Oklahoma City Gun Club membership, NRA instructors and range safety officers, local law enforcement and state organizations with volunteers happily signing up year after year. NRA Board member, Oklahoma Rifle Association President, and Reserve Deputy Sheriff Mark Vaughan is one of many such volunteers. “For all but one of the Women’s Fun Shoot events I’ve been able to help, which is easily one of my favorite volunteer activities for the year. To know that women of all ages are learning to handle a firearm safely and without fear is very important for personal and home security. Time after time I see ladies walk away smiling with this newly discovered confidence, having found a new passion, a new community, and a new sport.”
The Oklahoma City Gun club is preparing to host the 24th fun shoot on September 9. Suzi says, “Although I hope each participant continues with shooting after they attend the clinic, my primary goal is for them to have a positive experience in trying multiple shooting disciplines, while gaining basic firearms safety knowledge.”
For more information, contact Suzi Rouse, President of the Oklahoma City Gun Club at [email protected]