Sports are hugely important in America and all over the world. Sports are a way to build health, fitness and life skills. And sports are not just for kids or professional athletes. When you think about some of the sports that average Americans of all ages play, you might think of golf. However, there is actually a group of sports that’s even more popular, based on the numbers—the shooting sports!
There are more than 52 million participants in the shooting sports based on data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). Thirty percent of that number are women shooters; at least 6 million women participate in target shooting alone. While these numbers are impressive, they might not shock fellow female firearm enthusiasts. Which is why we should be telling everyone, even anti-gunners, how many women find fitness, passion and mental health in shooting. This is a positive that needs more attention.
Elected officials with false information, biased media coverage and the dramatizations of firearms in Hollywood are convincing the uninformed that guns are an outdated and unnecessary. However, even before civil unrest broke out throughout the country in 2020, millions of Americans who had not previously owned a gun began to purchase firearms in record-breaking numbers. Obviously, the true feelings of the nation are that firearms are, in fact, extremely necessary, relevant and downright mainstream.
So what do the numbers of shooting sports participants versus golf have to do with this? Well, look at the numbers:
- 52 million shooting sports participants vs. 36.9 million golfers
- 20 million target shooters, 30% being women (vs. 24% of golfers)
Shooting sports participation in 2020 saw at least 15.1 million more participants than golf. The shooting sports are also bigger than the number of Americans who camp (48 million in 2020). These statistics not only prove that participating in shooting sports is not a fringe or uncommon pastime, it’s a well-loved and highly participated in activity!
I’d like to challenge each of you reading this piece to talk to your friends about the massive numbers of women on the range and in the field. Ask them if they realize how much of a voice they have, and what a large market share they represent. (In 2016, firearms retailers estimated 23% of their shooting and hunting related sales were attributed to women.) Because by the numbers, a woman with a gun is more likely than one with a golf club, and I’d wager that she feels a lot more empowered too.