Industry Helps Growth of Women in Hunting and Shooting Sports

Participation by women in hunting and shooting sports has jumped in recent years, and may jump even higher in years to come.
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Participation by women in hunting and shooting sports has jumped in recent years, and may jump even higher in years to come.

Christine Godleski, vice president and general manager of ESPN Outdoors, predicts that growth will continue thanks to the television shows, magazines, grassroots programs—and especially the many new products—that appeal to women.

Godleski made her prediction during her keynote address to a capacity crowd Friday at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show's annual Women in the Industry luncheon at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“Participation among women in hunting and target shooting rose from 4.2 million to 6.3 million between 1999 and 2004,” Godleski said. “It's the grassroots initiatives and volunteers that encourage women to go out and try it and from positive exposure by the television media and all the women's publications that are out there.”

Godleski said programs like the National Shooting Sports Foundation's STEP OUTSIDE, the National Wild Turkey Federation's Women in the Outdoors, the National Rifle Association's Women on Target, and Becoming an Outdoors Woman are just some of the initiatives that are helping women become more involved in the outdoors.

Television programming like the ESPN Great Outdoor Games, ESPN 2's Get Wild with Cindy Garrison and other ESPN Outdoors shows are seen by millions, shining a spotlight on women who enjoy hunting and shooting, Godleski said.

“The numbers are up, participation is up and we have plenty of opportunities to take that six million to a much higher number,” Godleski said.

Garrison—who travels the country and the world on hunting, shooting and fishing pursuits on her show each week—said a lot of women are intimidated by shooting and hunting, but they shouldn't be.

“What a lot of people don't realize is that it's not just about killing something or shooting a gun, it's about conservation and it's about just getting out there—getting out of the city, getting out of the house and enjoying the outdoors,” Garrison said.

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