Ever since 1956, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania has welcomed the largest consumer outdoor show in the world every February ... every February, that is, except February 2021. Known since 2014 as the Great American Outdoor Show, the global COVID-19 pandemic forced the doors of the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex closed to such a large gathering. In that nearly two-year period, which put an end to so much "business as usual," there's been something of a quiet cataclysm. Women are buying firearms in record numbers, we're heading to the range and the field far more than ever before—and the proof is at GAOS 2022.
The Great American Outdoor Show has always been a family event, and it's certainly true that there have always been more women present than at traditional "gun shows." After all, the Great American Outdoor Show includes entire exhibit halls given over to everything outdoors, including boating, fishing, camping, hunting and more. What's more, Pennsylvania is a state known for its proud hunting traditions—schools still regularly close for the opening day of deer season—so it's only to be expected that there's increased female participation.
That's a trend on the rise, and you can see it simply by looking at the crowds in 2022. It only gets more interesting when women start talking about why they're there. What I mean by "interesting," of course, is that it's actually quite mundane. They're there for the same reasons as the men, and they aren't being dragged along by their eager husbands and fathers. They're there on their own business, and they're quite happy about it.
"I'm here to book a hunt," stated Cindy, from Morrisville, Pennsylvania. "Also, I've been kicking myself since the last time I was here for not buying this Ukoala bag," she continued. "My daughter is going to college soon and I'm hoping she'll want something like it," she said of the concealed-carry bag. It was a story repeated at nearly every booth vending concealed-carry solutions—and there are many—as mothers and daughters gazed discerningly at the belts, holsters and purses on display.
"I'm just here to see the sights," laughed Sara, a Harrisburg native. "And look at the guns," she added. Guns there are, acres of them, supply-chain disruption problems seeming far away. And just as there are more women walking the firearms exhibit hall floors than ever before, there's more there to see that was designed just for us.
Of course, not all the women of the Great American Outdoor Show are walking the aisles—many were showcasing their own businesses, large and small. One such is Michelle Horsey, whose Diva Outfitters booth is a can't-miss for any huntress who has ever had to remove just about everything she's wearing just to answer the call of nature in the field. Rounding the right corner in the Outdoor Lifestyle hall might showcase Horsey demonstrating her own design, the EZ PZ Back Access Bib, which is essentially a "union suit" style bib overall that can be unzipped for stress-free in-the-field relief. "I have the best job in the world," grinned Horsey. "I get to show my butt all day." (If that description has you interested and you can't get to the show, here's the Diva Outfitters website.)
So, what's there for NRA Women at the Great American Outdoor Show? Everything! From concealed-carry seminars, to guns and gear designed for women, to items suitable for anyone regardless of age or gender, visit us in Harrisburg! The show continues through Sunday, February 13; find more information, events, directions and more here. We hope to see you there!