International Women's Day is a celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Right now, no place is seeing a stronger impact from women than the shooting industry.
Traditionally, shooting and hunting were seen as a man's world. Whether you were in a hunting lodge, at a shooting competition, or browsing a gun show, you were pretty much going to see just men. There were occasional exceptions, but women tended to stay away from guns and their only exposure would usually come from their husbands taking them to the range.
Except that women are just as interested as men in defending themselves and their families, hunting, and shooting recreationally or competitively. Despite being seen by some as encroaching on a man's hobby, women increasingly bought guns of their own and sought out classes on firearm basics. As more women learned to shoot they encouraged their friends and family to try it for themselves, showing them that firearms weren't just for men.
Today it's never been easier for a woman to get involved in shooting. There are dozens of guns, accessories, and communities specifically geared towards female shooters. Visit a hunting lodge, shooting match, or gun show nowadays and you'll see women all over the place with their families, with their friends, and by themselves - just like the men. Women are a massive segment of the shooting industry and their presence only continues to rise. In fact, gun ownership among women in the United States climbed from 13% in 2005 to 27% in 2011. Women shooters are so prevalent and do so well competitively that matches are no longer requiring them to compete in their own category.
And there's no going back. Women are changing the face of the industry and the shooting world couldn't be better off for it. They're accomplished shooters, lethal hunters, patient instructors, skilled gunsmiths, knowledgable defenders of the Second Amendment, and they're just as good as men.
Below are 12 women leading the shooting industry into the 21st Century on behalf of women and men and you'd do well to remember their names.
Team Smith & Wesson Captain Julie Golob is a former member of the US Army Marksmanship Unit and has a list of pistol championship wins a mile long. Besides being an accomplished pistol shooter, she's a hunter, writer, and a mom.
The daughter of shooting legend Jerry Miculek and Kay Miculek, Lena Miculek has extraordinary marksmanship in her blood. The member of Team Sig Sauer is regarded as one of the top three women 3-gun shooters in the world and is becoming a household name with success after success.
The daughter of popular hunter Jim Shockey, Eva is a co-host on Jim Shockey's Hunting Adventures on Outdoor Channel and is quickly becoming the face of women hunters. Don't believe us? She was the first woman to make the cover of Field & Stream in 30 years.
Co-host of Crush with Lee and Tiffany, Tiffany Lakosky is one half of TV's first hunting family. Few other people say they get to live the dream and spend all day hunting with their spouse, but Tiffany can.
The captain of Team Taurus, Jessie Duff is a mainstay of female pistol shooters and has the trophies to prove it. When she isn't hunting in the field, you can find her at the range practicing for her next match.
Probably better known for her handle "TacTissy," Krystie Messenger is a force to be reckoned with on social media. The YouTube star churns out smart, informative videos on everything from firearm training to product reviews and works hard to get women interested in shooting and prove to them it isn't just a man's sport.
Originally from Venezuela, Gabby Franco moved to the United States in 2002 and embodies the American dream. Gabby fell in love with shooting after her first trip to the range at eleven years-old and her shooting skills have carried her to multiple championships, a memorable appearance on History Channel's Top Shot, and a successful career as a firearm instructor. She is truly an ambassador of the shooting sports.
Growing up in a gun friendly household sparked an interest in firearms that Kirsten Joy Weiss has carried into adulthood. After shooting for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in college, Kirsten competed in several international competitions, made the Olympic short-list, and continues to shoot competitively at a high level. She also has tremendous following on her YouTube channel, where she shows off her trick shooting skills and gives tips on how become a better markswoman.
Known as the 30 Cal Gal, Anette Wachter is a member of the United States National Rifle Team, has a bookcase full of national and international trophies, and owns three national records. She writes about her experiences and thoughts on Second Amendment issues on her website and sells her homemade jewelry inspired with firearm themes.
NRA Commentator Natalie Foster is dedicated to clearing up misconceptions about firearms and encouraging more women to get out and shoot. As the CEO and co-founder of Girls Guide to Guns, she shows how women live the outdoor lifestyle and writes articles that have helped many women decide to take that first step.
A top woman shooter in just about every type of pistol competition imaginable, Randi Rogers is a member of Team Smith & Wesson you don't want to mess with. Despite already having more than 40 national and world championships, Randi is always working to improve her skills and still finds time to help introduce others to the shooting sports.
Kim Rhode is the most accomplished woman shooter on the world stage. Period. She's the only Olympic athlete to ever win an individual medal in five consecutive Olympics and she's not planning to slow down for the 2016 games this summer in Rio. Growing up shooting and hunting, Kim is a master with a shotgun, a proud mom, and a lifetime member of the NRA.
Did we leave anyone out? Which women do you think are changing the shooting world? Tell us in the comments below.