A landmark meeting at a farm in Virginia will rock the world of women shotgunners by summer 2011.
Women shotgun enthusiasts will no longer be obliged to settle for men’s guns painted bubble-gun pink or smaller youth models in their pursuit to find the best fitting shotgun. Newcomer Baserri Shotguns is marching headlong into developing a viable shotgun specifically designed to fit women.
“It will be a shotgun designed for women by women,” said Alan Thompson, President of Baserri.
Baserri is consulting with two prominent women groups on the project. Elizabeth Lanier will be lead designer of the forthcoming Baserri women’s shotgun, which will be called the Mari Bella – making it the third model in the Baserri lineup.
Ms. Lanier, owner of Lanier Shooting Sports, is a leading female impresario in the shotgun sports. She operates Lanier Shooting Sports out of her 2,500 acre farm in Sandy Hook, Virginia. Her fully outfitted, covered 5 Stand serves as the venue to ply her skills as an NSCA Level II instructor. She said that approximately 70 percent of her clients are women.
Ms. Lanier is also founder of the GRITS – or Girls Really into Shooting. It’s a social and advocacy group to encourage involvement of women in the shotgun sports.
In addition, she is organizing a women’s sporting clays event called “Shotguns and She-nanigans. It will be held at The Homestead May 12-15, 2011. Baserri, the lead sponsor, will introduce the Mari Bella there.
Baserri has also turned to the DIVA…Women Outdoors Worldwide organization for input into the Mari Bella. DIVA Wow was started by Judy Rhodes in 1999 and has risen to become an international organization promoting women’s involvement and empowerment through hunting and shooting. Baserri already met with DIVA WOW earlier this year.
On November 17th, Mr. Thompson and Baserri co-founder Wayne Rodrigue convened at Ms. Lanier’s farm along with several GRITS, John Wiles, partner in SYC Sporting Adventures, Wayne Wilkinson, producer of the cable TV show God, Guns, & American Freedom, along with Shotgun Life and others involved in the shotgun sports.
The primary purpose was to hash out the specs for the Mari Bella. Mr. Thompson and Mr. Rodrigue, however, brought along about six 12-gauge Baserri over/unders for us to shoot – including two of the original prototypes (one of them revealed the serial number MH0001). The six shotguns provided an opportunity for everyone to try the Mari Elite sporting gun and Mari HR hunting model and contribute feedback to the fledging shotgun maker. Moreover, the shoot served as a baseline for determining how a shotgun fitted for the average man could translate into a women’s favorite.
“We believe that one of the fastest growing groups of shooters is women,” said Mr. Thompson. “That’s a very strategic business model for us.”
Mr. Thompson and Mr. Rodrigue had obviously been doing their homework.
Between 2003 and 2008, the number of women hunting with firearms rose from 2.1 million to 2.9 million, according to the most recent data from the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA). The study also concluded that women who target shoot increased from 4.1 million to 4.8 million during the same period.
When cross-referencing those results with other recent statistics, a picture emerges of women taking up both hunting and target shooting with shotguns.
For instance, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) released a report in 2008 called “The Future of Hunting and the Shooting Sports.” The study reported a confluence of trends that bode well for Baserri’s Mari Bella.
The NSSF identified the rifle as the leading equipment used by active hunters at 69 percent. The shotgun, at 55 percent, was their second choice. White-tail deer ranked as the number-one species hunted at 78 percent. However, wild turkey (23 percent) and upland birds (16%) ranked second and third. In the clay bird arena, skeet and trap was each shot by 34 percent of the respondents while 29 percent participated in sporting clays.
While nailing down the precise number of women in the shotgun sports remained elusive, what we did walk away with after that day of shooting the Baserris is that their characteristics already deliver the goods to make a successful women’s shotgun.
The unanimous opinion was that the Baserri’s conveyed low felt recoil with the 1-ounce loads packed with 7½ shot.
“The 12 gauge had the feel of a 20 gauge with far less recoil, especially facial recoil,” noted Ms. Lanier.
“I really like them,” said GRITS member, Debbie Clay. “They had very low felt recoil.”
“There was literally no kick,” observed fellow GRITS, Sandy Nunnally.
Mr. Thompson attributed the Baserri’s minimal felt recoil to their patented Tribore barrels. The triple-drilling process of the chrome molybdenum barrel stock has allowed Baserri to do away with forcing cones as we know them. Rather than the abrupt taper of the traditional forcing cone, the Tribore approach gradually tapers the bore from .740 inches to .724 inches. The elongated tapering contributes to a smoother shooting experience and increased shot velocity, as Mr. Thompson explained.
The barrels may also be the safest in the industry. He said that they have exceeded all others in the U.S. by testing to 1,630 BAR – the equivalent of 23,640 psi. For the sake of comparison, the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturing Institute set a minimum standard of 11,500 psi for 12-gauge shells in 2¾ and 3-inch lengths.
Beyond the lack of felt recoil, the GRITS raved about the value and appearance of the Mari Elite and the Mari HR. The field-grade Mari HR starts at $2,395 while the Mari Elite has a suggested retail price of $3,395. Both Ms. Clay and Ms. Nunnally enjoyed the guns so much they each bought one for their husbands.
“I thought it was absolutely gorgeous,” raved Ms. Nunnally.
“Baserri has a good price point with a very attractive gun,” observed Ms. Lanier.
So what’s next?
Ms. Lanier expects that the Mari Bella will appear with a slightly higher comb to accommodate women’s longer necks, a thinner grip to fit women’s smaller hands and a neutral stock to accommodate for the majority of women shooters who are left-eyed dominant and may choose to shoot left-handed. In addition, the standard stock length may be shortened but include spacers for length adjustments.
Cosmetically, the Mari Bella will likely have a gold trigger and some other “bling” that the women requested.
“We believe that the Mari Bella can fill a void in the shotgun market when it comes to gun choices for women,” Ms. Lanier said. “I’m excited to be associated with the project.”
You can read the first installment of Shotgun Life’s Baserri Chronicles by clicking here.
Watch Wayne Wilkinson’s video of Baserri’s visit to Lanier Shooting Sports by clicking here.
Irwin Greenstein is the Publisher of Shotgun Life. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.