The number of female firearm license holders has grown steadily in Saskatchewan with more and more women taking to the great outdoors.
It’s a trend that firearm safety instructors like Ian Clarke and his wife Barbie, who teach the Federal Firearm Safety Course in Prince Albert, have seen continue to grow in recent years.
“My wife and I have been instructing the Federal Firearm course since its inception in 1994, and we’ve seen some of our classes with as much as 50 per cent ladies now," said Clarke. “The interesting thing is that it’s not just younger ladies, there is also older women and some seniors who have started taking the class as well. I think it’s roughly 50 per cent that get involved for hunting, and 50 per cent that get involved for target shooting.”
Clarke added that he believes a lot of the women who get involved with firearms do so for a variety of reasons.
“We had three ladies, seniors, who came to do the course because they wanted to go hand-gunning out at the range, and that has become an outing for them,” Clarke said. “Another big thing is people really enjoy hunting for the visceral experience of putting meat on their own plate. It can be a very spiritual experience.”
“The other thing we see happening is people feel more empowered once they know how guns work. It’s not necessarily that they would use a handgun, it’s just they know they don’t have to be scared of the guns.”
Clarke and his wife also host a Learn to Shoot and outdoor survival for ladies course, where participants are taught how guns operate and how to properly handle them. Clarke noted that a large number of participants in recent years have come from suburban environments and are interested in learning more about outdoor lifestyles.
“In the last seven or eight years our numbers have gone from about 27 per cent female to around 32 per cent,” said Shawna Bellavance, general manager with the Saskatchewan Association for Firearm Education. “I think it’s not just the hunting, but the shooting sports as well. For myself, when I go out … it’s almost a competition against myself to become more confident, it’s no different than any other sport, it’s for personal gain."
Bellavance added that she believes a large number of people become involved with hunting and other firearm related activities in an effort to become involved with family members who already do so. There were 915 female firearms licence holders with registered firearms in the province last year, up from 593 five years earlier, she said.
“It’s also great to be able to say you’re able to harvest your own meat, you’re proving to yourself and your family what you can do.”
On Twitter: @TheDigitalBirdy
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