It’s no secret that women are the fastest-growing demographic in the American firearms community, and the National Rifle Association is at the forefront of that trend with programs ranging from the tactical to the educational to the political. It’s an excellent strategy because women don’t want to just shoot—they also have the desire to learn and to share their knowledge.

Since 2008, participation in the NRA’s Women on Target program has risen nearly 70 percent. One of the key factors driving this extraordinary growth is the diversity of available programming.

“We’re encouraged about the state of firearms in America by the increasing success and reach of our programs,” said Bill Poole, managing director of the National Rifle Association’s Educational and Training Division. “Providing citizens with ways to safely exercise their Second Amendment rights helps them discover new interests and ensures our shooting traditions will be a lasting heritage passed on to future generations.”

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For beginners, the NRA offers Women on Target Instructional Shooting Clinics throughout the United States. At these shooting clinics you’ll find everyone from teenagers to grandmothers learning not only how to operate a firearm, but also how to safety clean and store it. Participants come to appreciate the sporting aspect of gun ownership and the fact that firearms are an essential means to protecting themselves and their loved ones.

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The NRA also understands that, when it comes to firearms instruction, women are very often going to be more comfortable (and thus more successful) when other women are training them. A female-only pistol class can turn what might be an intimidating event for some into a socially safe day (or week) of fun and camaraderie. This has led the NRA to use social networking and online media to promote “firearms, fashion and more” for women at all levels of gun ownership and interest.

Female firearms enthusiasts are no longer solely a part of the camo-and-deer-camp crowd; we’re farm wives and urban businesswomen and everything in between, and the NRA, recognizing that fact, has devised smart strategies that appeal to virtually every woman.

True Protectors

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NRA Spokeswoman Natalie Foster

For more experienced shooters, Women on Target offers marksmanship qualification programs and an opportunity to explore competitive shooting or become an NRA firearms instructor. The NRA also offers fully supported educational opportunities like the Refuse to Be a Victim personal safety program and the Eddie Eagle GunSafe program for young children in which women can not only participate but also instruct or help bring information to their communities. This “grassroots” concept is especially appealing to those women who tend to have a strong desire to get involved with their local community.

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The huge growth of women involved in the NRA is also directly related to the political landscape of the United States. The NRA is unabashedly on the front lines of protecting our Second Amendment rights, and women are a political force that will not be ignored. What an unstoppable combination! There seems to be a popular (albeit false) notion that all women think alike when it comes to political issues, and the NRA gives women an outlet to express their views constructively and effectively, regardless of political affiliation.

Through the NRA, women have a voice and an outlet to address everything from the Constitution to self-protection to lobbying and legislation, and there are ways to get involved both locally and nationally. In a recent interview, NRA News commentator Natalie Foster said it best: “If you’re going to be able to choose what you do with your body, why aren’t we able to choose how we defend our bodies?”

Whether you are looking for a new sporting activity, a pathway to increased self-reliance, skills to protect yourself and your family, an outlet to meet other like-minded women or just another way to promote fun family bonding, go to women.nra.org and get started. You’ll be glad that you did.

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