A lot has happened in the world of women and guns since 2008. Women gun owners, hunters, competitive shooters and those involved in Second Amendment advocacy all have seen much-welcomed growth. But this palpable transformation in the gun-owning landscape didn’t happen all by itself. That’s not to say this exponential growth wasn’t organic; in fact, quite the opposite. We know countless women to whom we are grateful for ushering in a much-needed balance to an industry/sport/hobby long-dominated by men. But among these women, certain ones stand out. Through their dedication to the cause, their determination and sheer willpower to forge ahead even when they felt like quitting—or when others told them to quit—they have climbed to the top of the heap and are now familiar names to whom we turn to for leadership and advice.
One of these standout women is Karen Butler who, since 2008 when she created “Shoot Like a Girl,” made it her mission to empower women to “participate in shooting sports with confidence.” When it comes to getting women involved in the firearm and hunting community, Karen has continuously helped to right an imbalanced ship. Through her efforts she has inspired thousands of once-hesitant women to transform themselves into confident gun owners and hunters, launching them on their own journeys to becoming responsible for their own personal safety and that of their families. In doing so, Karen has stood out as a uniter among the numerous “girl gun groups,” often joining forces with them to create an even stronger camaraderie of women who can take on those who oppose us, recognizing that competing against each other would be ultimately detrimental.
These days, at industry events like the annual SHOT Show and the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits—and dozens of Bass Pro/Cabela’s events around the country—we have become accustomed to seeing Karen’s 53-foot mobile range pull up and roll out the welcome wagon to the many women who have decided to embark on their own firearm journey by participating in a SLG event. It’s a sight that never grows old. As the SLG mission statement explains, Karen and her crew are “Changing Lives One Shot at A Time!” In 2023, Karen saw a need to expand and diversify their reach. She launched another experience, Safe LivinG, that empowers, men, women, families and communities to participate in shooting sports with confidence.
It is for all these reasons that NRA Women has selected Karen Butler to receive the 2024 NRA Golden Bullseye Award for Industry Woman of the Year. Congratulations, Karen, and thank you for making an incredible difference to so many women in our Second Amendment sisterhood. If you've never attended a SLG2 mobile event, check out their 2024 schedule and make this the year.
Now let’s catch up with Karen for an update on the latest SLG2 happenings.
NRAW: We shared a profile of you in 2018—“Second Acts.” But for new women gun owners or those interested in joining our ranks, tell them why you founded Shoot Like a Girl. Describe your organization and its mission, as well as how the mobile range experience works.
KB: I started Shoot Like A Girl for one primary reason: I felt that every woman should be able to feel the confidence that comes from shooting sports. My first-time shooting was as an adult at a very low point in my life. Even though I had a successful career, I was experiencing difficulties in my personal life and had lost some of my self-worth. I had the opportunity to shoot a bow and a rifle, and the experience was life-changing. Shooting restored my confidence; there was something so gratifying and empowering about aiming at a target and hitting it. Years later, I started Shoot Like A Girl because I felt every woman needed to feel that same emotion of empowerment, self-satisfaction and confidence. Our tag line, “Empowering Women with Confidence”, is the “why” of Shoot Like a Girl. Our “how” of introducing women to shooting sports delivers our “what,” which coincidentally ties back to our “why.”
Shoot Like A Girl’s “how” is a unique process of introducing women to shooting sports—for free. The free part is vitally important to our success and is attributable to our corporate partners. The experience of shooting is shared across the country with ladies via our semi-tractor trailer mobile range, equipped with a military grade firearms simulator, a live fire archery range, and a team of NRA certified female instructors and archery coaches. The ability to conduct this massive operation without charging our clients removes a barrier to entry. The investment by companies in Shoot Like A Girl is greatly appreciated and provides a return on the investment in the “what.”
NRAW: Do you recall any challenges that gave you pause during your journey, creating moments of doubt when you were navigating the rough seas of starting a business?
KB: This is a trick question, because yes, everyday there are challenges. It’s part of being an entrepreneur. However, I look at every challenge as an opportunity to find a solution. One of my favorite sayings is, “Simple solutions often solve complex problems.” When I first started the company, most people thought it was a non-starter. Luckily for me, the words, “you can’t; "no"; and "it will never work” only motivated me.
NRAW: Elaborate on the growth and expansion you have experienced with SLG2 since we profiled you.
- Hunt Like a Girl is dedicated to empowering women through outdoor experiences. Guests are introduced to adventures that promote the great outdoors, established 2020. We host industry hunts and host Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Club Signature Events.
- Safe LivinG is an experience based introduction to safety surrounding your personal security with an emphasis on firearm safety; utilizing a 36’ trailer, established 2023.
- SLG2 Consulting provides sound data driven advice to develop strategies for partners to capitalize on the current market, established 2018.
- Safety Awards — We launched this award last year because we wanted to recognize the contributions being made toward safety by our industry partners. No one cares about gun safety more than responsible gun owners and our partner manufacturers.
- Bass Pro/Cabela’s events — Bass Pro Shops is such a vital partner. It is great to introduce people to wonderful products at the point of sale. The team at their headquarters make us feel like family, and we are so lucky to meet their employees across the country.
NRAW: What qualifications do your SLG instructors hold?
KB: Our instructors must be certified by training mainstays, like the NRA. We have the most incredible instructors, and of course we pay our instructors and cover their travel expenses, but they would do it for free if I would let them. However, I believe women (and men) should be compensated for work. I have a few rules that they must follow, and it has served us well.
NRAW: Will the SLG model remain the same (the mobile range), or have you modified it throughout your growth?
KB: The model will remain the same, but we are expanding to reach men and women. As we began traveling across the country after COVID, we found more elderly couples shopping for a gun for the first time in their lives. In many areas, we also found young men who had not been introduced to proper shooting and safety, and they found what we do important. I will always continue to want to empower women, but as we share the firearms safety message with men and communities, we are empowering them by making their communities and homes safer.
NRAW: Can you clarify by what name your company is known by—Shoot Like a Girl? SLG? SLG2? Hunt Like a Girl?
KB:I would like the company to be known as SLG2, Inc with four brands: Shoot Like A Girl, Safe LivinG, Hunt Like A Girl and SLG2 Consulting.
NRAW: How is success measured with attendees at your events? How many women have run through your events since 2008?
KB: We survey every attendee after they visit the trailers. This data is always statistically sound. We have had 36,578 signed in attendees, and countless guests that stop by and visit our gun bar, or get a pepper spray demonstration, but don’t sign in.
NRAW: I know we’ve asked you this before, but is there room for more “girl gun groups?”
KB: It is pretty simple, if one of us fails, we all fail. Every community we visit seems to have a local group and/or a chapter of a National group like Armed Women of America, A Girl and A Gun, or DIVA Wow, just to name a few. We are not a group, club or league, but I value them very much, because in the communities we visit, our guests need somewhere comfortable to go to make that next step in their journey of firearms ownership. I tell people finding a group is like finding a church, you need to go visit and see if the atmosphere fits your personality, budget and time resources. If it doesn’t, try another one. There is one out there to fill everyone’s needs.
NRAW: Specifically, who are your mentors in the firearm industry? What have you learned from them?
KB: Allegra Lowitt from ThermaCell has been a business mentor since the beginning. She has sat on my executive advisory board, and given great advice. She helped me define my revenue streams. The First Lady of Hunting, Brenda Valentine … Kristy Titus ... There have been so many other people that have given me advice: Rob Werkmeister at Ruger; Paul Spitale at Colt; [Buckeye Firearms Association and NRA Board member] Linda Walker has given me advice without even knowing it. This is really hard, because there are so many women in the industry I admire. I call them the "glass ceiling breakers." They have made it easy for all of us females to have a seat at the table: Sandy Frohman, Linda Powell, Cindy Flannigan, Brenda Potterfield and many more.
NRAW: Can you elaborate about your time on NRA Women’s Leadership Forum?
KB: I loved being a co-chair for the Women of the Industry with [American Outdoor Brands'] Liz Sharp. This was quite an honor for me, as it is important for women to network together. Individually each of us is strong, together and united we are impervious. (I stole this line from "Bones," but it wasn’t used quite the same way …)
NRAW: Why should women become NRA members?
KB: The NRA was founded on training and continues to provide outstanding educational opportunities. When you look at the history of the NRA, and the importance it plays in promoting firearm safety, a responsible firearm owner must be a member.
NRAW: What is missing from our community of women shooters, hunters and gun owners (if anything)? In other words, what else should women be doing to ensure their gun rights are protected?
KB: I don’t think anything is missing per se. The biggest thing we can do is remember while doing our own things, we are all working towards a collective goal.
NRAW: You are viewed as a uniter among the many other female-centric gun training organizations. Why is this so important to our cause?
KB: As I said earlier, if one of us fails we all fail. Don’t think there aren’t people out there waiting; not that they want us to fail, but unfortunately some expect us to fail. Let’s face it, what we are doing is not easy. There are daily challenges. Personally, there just isn’t time for any drama. We have important work to do.
NRAW: What advice would you offer to other women who are looking to start an organization with a goal of empowering women shooters/hunters or Second Amendment advocacy?
KB: Get a business plan, roll up your sleeves and get to work. Seriously though, get a business plan, take the classes the SBA offers to make sure you have the support of your family. My husband, Todd, has been my biggest cheerleader and closest advisor, but he also has had to put up with me working extremely long hours, traveling a ton, and not being available for friends and family functions. You want to make sure you have a good support network, and have the stamina to stick it out.
NRAW: Has it all been worth it? In hindsight, what would you do differently?
KB: Yes, it has all been worth it. I just finished writing the 15 Year Anniversary Impact Report for SLG2, Inc. I looked back through the years, and honestly had forgotten some of the accomplishments we’ve had along the way. I’m not a big fan of regrets, so I don’t know if I would do it any differently. I’ll try to keep learning from my mistakes (those are daily), and forge ahead.
NRAW: What is the biggest overall change you have witnessed in the world of women and guns/hunting since you launched in 2008?
KB: I would say the age of our guests. When I first started the guests were younger, now more than half our guests are over 50.
NRAW: What new things can we expect from you or SLG2 in 2024?
KB: We are slowly starting to co-brand the two rigs, and we have big expansion plans for 2025... but that’s a secret.
NRAW: Is there anything else?
KB: I’m very thankful to get this honor of being recognized with the Golden Bullseye award. Success is never achieved alone and I want to thank my family, staff, instructors and partners for their support over the years.