While gun ownership has traditionally been male-dominated, more and more women are not only purchasing guns but are also taking part in target shooting and hunting.

A new trend sweeping the nation is hitting the Lake of the Ozarks as well.

While gun ownership has traditionally been male-dominated, more and more women are not only purchasing guns but are also taking part in target shooting and hunting.

According to a survey of firearms retailers by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, women buyers were attributed with 20 percent of their shooting-and-hunting-related sales in 2013 with semi-automatic pistols, revolvers and shotguns being their top gun purchases in that order. In 2010, 15 percent of of these sales were attributed to women.

Firearms retailers also reported to the NSSF seeing approximately 73 percent more women in their stores in 2013 compared to 2012.

A new chapter in Morgan County of the national women’s shooters club, A Girl & A Gun, now has more than 40 members and has a list of more than 100 women interested in possibly joining, according to chapter founder and firearms instructor Ava Wooldridge.

The Lake chapter of “AG&AG” started about a year and a half ago.
Ava got into shooting after meeting her now husband Jeff - who then owned a gun store in the St. Louis area and now owns JW Firearms in southern Morgan County.

Ava eventually became an instructor certified in multiple shooting categories. Seeing more and more women in JW’s shop, Ava says she saw the the need for women instructors.

She got involved with AG & AG while living in St. Louis after observing a class with another shooting organization where the instructor made a comment that women should not carry a purse.

“I thought, ‘Wrong answer,” says Ava.

Another “wrong answer” about females and firearms use led Ava to AG & AG, which focuses on women shooters teaching and training other women in the basics and advanced skill development.

A woman’s body is just different than a man’s, making how you use your body to shoot different for a woman, says Ava.

Educating yourself about guns and shooting beyond is not just about knowledge, says Ava, but also about self-confidence. It’s not enough to simply own a gun, you need to be comfortable with loading and shooting it.

Indeed, according to the NSSF national survey, 73 percent of women gun owners have taken at least one firearms training class. For women, the knowledge and confidence to defend yourself is “very empowering,” says Ava.

A couple of years ago, JW and Ava moved themselves and the store to a 100-acre-plus property on Route J where they have an outdoor range and an indoor dry fire training classroom.

Ava now is certified as a firearms instructor in personal defense to shooting muzzle loaders, and has even trained to teach shooting to people with disabilities. She continues to develop her own skills through the national conferences held by AG & AG.

Upon moving to the Lake area, Ava turned her St. Louis area chapter over to another woman and started the chapter here in October 2014.
Some of AG & AG members Ava is proud to say have gone from never having handled a gun at all - a couple being “petrified” of guns - to competent confidence - one has even gone on to complete a training course shooting an AR-15 from a helicopter.

Ava starts beginners out on Airsoft guns to teach them fundamentals first - such as simply loading the ammunition. By the time they get to a regular gun, they have the confidence already to handle the firearm comfortably, she says.

Beyond shooting skills, AG&AG also offers camaraderie for women interested in guns and shooting - like-minded people gathered for the same reason, say Ava. The club holds social events for members each quarter as well as some co-ed gatherings where members can bring their partner.

Learn more about A Girl & A Gun
National: www.agirlandagun.org or on Facebook
Local: jwfirearms.com