If you attended this year’s SHOT Show in Las Vegas, you no doubt heard the conversations regarding possible new gun control efforts and the interest in modern sporting rifles and associated ammo and equipment was high. However, if you took time to notice, you may have also noticed a larger-than-normal number of women attending the show.
Many were media attendees, while others were competitive shooters, TV show hosts, professional trainers, and a surprising number of gun store owners and employers. Helping to build this interest among women in the outdoor industry is Britney Starr of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and an associate editor with the Women’s Outdoor News. Britney has packed a great deal into her “20-something” years. She is an avid hunter, shooter, journalist, and co-owner of Starr & Bodill African Safaris. Her passion for the outdoors is evident in her generosity and willingness to promote the shooting sports while also helping to mentor and guide other women in the same pursuits.
It was this passion that led Britney and good friend Jacquelyn Kelly from Armed in Heels to organize the first-ever women’s only event at this year’s SHOT Show. Held at Gilley’s Bar and Restaurant inside Treasure Island, the First Annual Women’s Outdoor and Shooting Industry Dinner attracted over 150 women, including many prominent industry leaders, who came to meet, network, and of course, have fun.
Events like these do not happen inexpensively in Vegas and a number of companies undertook varying levels of sponsorship. LaserMax was this year’s Platinum Sponsor. Gold Sponsors included Galco Gunleather, Gun-Up, Leupold Optics, the NRA Women’s Network, and Otis Technologies. ESS Eye Pro signed on as a Silver Sponsor. The level of sponsorship alone by these companies for a first-ever event is testament to their commitment to women in the industry. The fact that Britney and Jacquelyn planned this event in less than two months is a testament to their party planning prowess.
Of the event, Britney says,
I decided to put together a small dinner for myself and a few other friends during SHOT Show, which escalated fairly quickly into a 150-attendee event, including seven sponsor companies. It’s no secret that the women’s demographic is the fastest growing in our industry, and I believe this event is the perfect example of the kind of impact women are making. We need an outlet to network and make connections, and I believe that’s exactly what was accomplished at the event. I’ve received so many emails and phone calls from attendees telling me how great it was to be able to meet other women in the industry face-to-face. We all come from so many different parts of the country, and it was my pleasure to organize an event where we could all come together under one roof.
Based on the turnout and attention it received, this is destined to become an annual event. If other companies in the industry are wise, they will jump on board. Women have become a powerful market within the hunting and shooting community as well as a vocal advocates in the support of Second Amendment and hunting rights. Right now, we need all the help we can get.
Images courtesy Doug Gilmer