This past week, I had the pleasure of attending the Women’s Outdoor Media Association‘s (WOMA) 4th Annual She Never Quit event at the Lazy J Ranch in Normangee, Texas. WOMA is a non-profit association dedicated to supporting and promoting women who participate in the outdoor sports of shooting, hunting, fishing and archery. The She Never Quit event is the association’s annual charity affair that provides women the opportunity to network and learn proper shooting technique from world-class trainers in a friendly and encouraging environment while also supporting great causes.
This year’s event supported the Foundation for Women Warriors and the 100 Club of Central Texas, whose missions closely align with WOMA’s goals. Empowerment is at the forefront of WOMA’s mission statement, and that is exactly what this event instilled in me.
When I was given the opportunity to attend this event, I was extremely excited — and a little nervous. I had never been to a shooting event like this before and didn’t know what to expect. As I left the paved road behind and turned onto the dirt road of the ranch, I felt a jittery anticipation building in my chest, but upon entering the farmhouse I felt at ease, and within one conversation I was immediately welcomed and reassured that this was going to be an influential event for me. We spent the first night getting to know one another, sharing our experiences with the shooting sports, networking and eagerly discussing the events to come.
The next two mornings we rose before the sun, to see the dew glistening on the grass and feel the crisp Texas air. Following the morning safety briefing, we all eagerly headed to the range. There, each of eight shooting bays had been set up with multiple guns, for us to try, by extremely knowledgeable instructors, some of whom are professional shooters and Olympic competitors. Allowing us the opportunity to test various brands and calibers in a safe and encouraging environment. We split into groups to make our way around each of the stations, and after making sure that everyone had safety glasses and ear protection, the range went live with a symphony of “tings” that followed dozens of bullets hitting steel.
In my group, there was a woman who had never shot a gun before. She was a little apprehensive but when it came time to shoot, she elected to be the first in our group to go. The level of care and attention our instructor paid her was reassuring to me — We were there to support each other, I really felt that. Along with getting to shoot .22-, 9mm and .45-caliber pistols from Glock, Colt, STI, FN and others, we also had the opportunity to shoot different rifles, airguns, shotguns and bows. We even ran through a simulated 3-Gun experience, in which we got to shoot a rifle, pistol and shotgun while timed. This experience opened my eyes to all the different shooting activities in which one can participate in. I have gone hunting with my dad since I was a kid, but I was never exposed to the world of target and competition shooting. I am incredibly grateful that, through She Never quit, I was.
Beyond the shooting activities and world-class instruction I received, was the empowerment I felt by connecting with so many strong, like-minded women was what really made the experience for me. Sharing our stories about how the shooting sports have impacted our lives drove home the importance of an event like this. Women are one of the fastest growing demographic segments of the shooting sports industry, but it is one that at times can feel underrepresented or left out of the conversation. Research from the National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®) shows a large percentage of women are interested in the shooting sports and this experience solidified for me a firm belief that it’s essential to create comfortable spaces in which women can learn and practice in order to foster this interest and create a strong female shooting community.
The WOMA team has fostered a remarkable and unique environment in which women can connect and work on their firearm skills with She Never Quit. I made lifelong friends there, and will certainly be attending more events like this in the future — and that’s exactly why such events are important. I encourage every woman out there interested in learning about firearms and the shooting sports to get involved with WOMA at www.TheWOMA.org, She Never Quit or any of the many other programs ranges and shooting organizations across the country offer to help you get started. I promise it’s a decision you won’t regret.
Daphane Cassidy, NSSF Digital Media Specialist