A shotgun’s versatility and functionality have enabled it to become a staple in many gun-owning homes. In home-defense situations, consumers prefer shotguns for their ease of use, straightforward loading and wide shot pattern.
Another incentive includes the intimidation factor of a shotgun. Nothing says “home-defense” more than the distinctive sound of racking a pump shotgun or a stare down while on the wrong end of a double-barrel shotgun — each have both been proven to stop a criminal in their tracks. The shotgun is a must-have for clay sports and a staple in the bird-hunting community. It’s as close to a multi-purpose tool as a gun can get.
For many women, the shotgun is also their first introduction to the shooting sports. Sporting clays, trap and skeet have long been a popular way to get women involved in the shooting sports. The outdoor nature of these sports, as well as the non-threatening targets, makes them appealing to new shooters.
Remington Model 870
Patricia McLelland-Merydith, director of NRA Women on Target Instructional Shooting clinics, Amateur Trapshooting Association instructor and owner of McLelland-Merydith Shotgun Instruction shared some tips on selling shotguns and accessories to women.
“Women shooters want to feel like women, they don’t want to don the apparel, equipment and things designed for men,” McLelland-Merydith said. “Women want an empty shotgun hull in their vest pocket to contain a tube of lipstick; they want clothing that looks good and useful for their sport, clothing designed for women like those designed by MizMac, SHE Safari, Browning, Beretta, Barnes Bullets and others. Baseball-type caps are nice, but Browning For Her, Glock Girl and those Pink Beretta caps make women feel invited to share in the shooting sports.”
McLelland-Merydith is a strong advocate of firearm safety and shooting lessons prior to purchasing a firearm. “I recommend a lesson where they can try a number of shotguns and receive recommendations from the instructor on the best ear and eye protection, tips about clothing and accessories and information specific to the firearms being used,” she said.
Women learn the art of the shotgun at an NRA Women on Target
clinic facilitated by Patricia McLelland-Merydith.
Empower Your Customer, Cater To Her Needs
Most dealers have come in contact with a new customer who walks into a store to purchase exactly what her firearm instructor recommended. If you have a good relationship with your local firearm instructors, these can be lucrative referrals. It’s important, however, to support a woman’s purchasing decision.
So, don’t try to steer her toward something you think is best. Generally, women do a lot of research before making a purchase and will seek your advice when they need help making a decision. Otherwise, respect the fact they’ve come to you ready to buy the gun they want.
At Sportsmans Gunroom in Penryn, Calif., CEO Marty Donahue said he attributes his store’s success in the women’s market to commitment to quality customer service and attention to women’s needs.
“Other stores don’t spend time with women because they think women can’t make a buying decision,” Donahue said. “We treat our customers right and women send us more business than anyone.”
Sportsmans Gunroom has supported McLelland-Merydith’s NRA clinics with donated items such as a Remington 870 Pump shotgun. His store serves an active female clientele who like to participate in a wide variety of the shooting sports.
“Women buy a lot of Remington 870s because that model is one of the most versatile shotguns. We also sell a lot of the Benelli SuperNovas,” Donahue said.
When McLelland-Merydith asserts shotguns are great all-around guns, she speaks from personal experience. She said she has used her trap gun for hunting and home-defense on numerous occasions. “A trap gun is more versatile than a field gun,” she noted.
Trap guns can stand up to the rigors of competition and offer more choke options, she added. Browning and Beretta trap guns are among her most recommended shotguns. “Berettas and Brownings are the most commonly used guns in American trap and they are the least expensive.”
Beretta Women’s Uniform Shooting Vest
Recoil & Comfort
Recoil is something women need to consider when purchasing a shotgun.
“When it comes to comfort, skill is an important factor in reducing recoil,” she said. “There are several things to take into consideration when attempting to lessen recoil, for example: shotshells, shotgun weight, shotgun type and recoil pad systems.
Recoil pad systems are not only useful for dampening recoil — McLelland-Merydith noted that they can also be used to change the length of pull on a shotgun and give a more custom fit. GraCoil and Kick-Eez are two systems that work well for women.
“Clothing also becomes important in reducing recoil and making for a more enjoyable shooting experience,” she said. “For example, Beretta and Browning both sell shooting vests with a recoil reducer gel pad that can be inserted into the shoulder of the vest.”
Shotgun shooting is a sport that can require some modifications to ear and eye protection choices.
“I don’t recommend large bulky earmuffs as they tend to interfere with the shooter when placing a cheek against the comb of the shotgun stock,” McLelland-Merydith said. “Instead, I would recommend inexpensive throwaway ear plugs, or for $5 to $20 the shooter can make comfortable, custom molded ear plugs, like those made by Radians.”
For versatility and sheer power, the shotgun can’t be beat. It’s the multi-tool of firearms and a great starter gun for women.
Use your expertise to help women manage recoil and you’re sure to have a happy gun owner, and equally important, a happy customer.
By Lisa Parsons-Wraith
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