With the holiday season upon us, I’m often asked about the gift of shooting products — questions about vests, pouches and certainly guns. Even though I kid about it all the time, it’s certainly true: “It’s all about the gear!”
Much has been written about guns for women recently and there are so many options. I think we should consider what kind of shooting you’ll be doing and the versatility of the guns you’re considering. I’ve mentioned some of these products below, and they are merely suggestions from personal experience and not an endorsement. These choices cover a spectrum that considers functionality and budget. I’m a big believer in starting youth and women, and some men, with a semi-auto as they are very versatile shotguns at a great price. They’re a great starting point, but there are many good options for starter over-and-unders as well.
Of course, there’s the “other” gear for every shooting activity, from sporting clays, to wing shooting, from duck to deer hunting. We’re talking about accessories such as clothing, bags, glasses, ear plugs and much more.
In closing out a wonderful 2014, November saw some great shooting gatherings, from charity events to shooting just for fun, with a quick sampling below.
This November brought the 11th annual Annie Oakley Tournament just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. The “Annies” are a group of women who get together and shoot once a month. They also host this annual Annie Oakley Tournament to raise money for the Trust for Public Land. Over the past 11 tournaments, they have raised a very impressive $450,000. What a wonderful mission and achievement!
I recently got together with several of my “old” (figuratively, not literally of course) college friends at the Homestead Resort (http://www.thehomestead.com). Some of us had not seen each other in years. And most of them had never pulled the trigger of a shotgun. I decided to change that, and for a few, change their perception of guns in general, for the better. One of my favorite responses to the shooting experience was when one of them said “I may have to give up falconry next time and go shooting instead!” Nothing against falconry, but a far better choice coming from this shootin’ gal!
How about some smooth bourbon after a brisk afternoon of shooting? Part of the fun of shooting with friends is sitting around and enjoying the beverage of your choice and talking about the clays breaking, the cheering and celebrating new shooters getting started! `Tis the season! http://birddogwhiskey.com.
Now, following that Bird Dog Whiskey, there’s nothing cooler than a Brandy Greenwell sporting her chic Carhartt coveralls, a silk scarf, plus, check it out, double-fisted shotguns! Now this is a real woman.
Okay, time for some holiday shopping ideas:
So many cases, so few guns! Really now, Negrini has the lightest cases I have ever carried. They are built tough, airline approved and gorgeous as well. Made in a great variety of configurations, depending on your gun case needs, that also come in many color and finish options. Add to your order a nylon case cover for a little extra protection form the abuse of air travel or in my case, just riding in my truck! A fantastic company with customer service second to none. http://negrinicases.com
How about some great looking shooting shirts from Bravael? These are perfect shirts made for men and women, that you can wear well in the field and on the sporting clay course! www.braeval.net
Pictured here is a great little gizmo for raising the comb of a gun to make for a better fit. I use them often in lessons and sometimes when I am shooting side by sides that may be a little low to begin with. The Leatherman line of shooting gear features many products from black powder bags to sporting clays and wing shooting bags. www.accu-riser.com
Gun Shopping for Gift Giving
As I mentioned, I generally use semi-autos when introducing new shooters to the sport — especially women and kids. Beretta and Benelli 20 gauges are my “go to” guns because they’re lighter, fit comfortably and have low recoil.
Beretta A400: Available in 12, 20 and 28 gauge, the A400 Xplor (it’s the top picture below) defines performance and versatility in a semiauto. Available with or without the Kick Off system, I prefer them without the recoil reduction system. They don’t have a lot of recoil in general and you can’t shorten the stock with the recoil systems. The advantages of these guns without the recoil system is you can shorten the length of pull and change the pitch easily and they come with a shim system, allowing the gun to be more customized to the individual shooter. The recoil reduction system really helps with semi-autos when you are shooting a lot of hot loads. http://www.a400xplor.com
Benelli Montefeltro: The beauty of this gun (the picture under the Beretta A400 Xplor) is that it comes in left and right handed models. So if you’re a lefty, or left-eye dominant, the safety is reversed, and the shells eject to the left, not to the right. Having shot both left handed and right handed, I can honestly say I have never noticed a shell ejecting out of a right handed action but that might just be me. If it doesn’t bother you, you certainly have more options, but this is a delightful gun to shoot, right or left. Perfect for a holiday wish list, Santa baby! http://www.benelliusa.com/montefeltro-shotgun
Browning makes some great over-and-under 20 and 12 gauge shotguns. I have many female students who shoot the Browning Citori Lightning. The 20 gauge is a great gun! I started with a Browning 12 gauge and still enjoy shooting it today. http://www.browning.com/products/catalog/firearms/detail.asp?fid=008B&cid=013&tid=461
A few premium (and worth it) over-and unders come from Perazzi, Kreighoff and Blaser. The Perazzi and the Blaser offer models directed at women — Blaser’s F3 Ladies being so adjustable that it can be labeled youth or ladies. One of my all time favorite field guns is the Kreighoff K-20 and I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity, at the generosity of Dieter and Betty Kreighoff, to use them everywhere from wingshooting here in the states to pigeon and dove hunting in Argentina.
Perazzi Ladies Shotgun: A fabulous gun, both in looks, balance and “shootability” (it’s the gun on the chair below). I’ve shot it and loved it. The stock dimensions were a result of the careful consideration of Lars Jacob after watching and working with many women shooters over the last several years. Together with Perazzi, they came up with great stock dimensions for the average female shooter. I watched seven ladies of various sizes shoot it and they all did quite nicely. I feel certain this wasn’t just new-gun syndrome. Stock dimensions do make a difference. http://coveyandnye.com/fine-guns-for-sale/ladies-sporter
Blaser F3 Ladies: I think this is the most adjustable gun on the market for women and youth and once the stock is set up, you can select any gauge barrel or length, depending on your quarry for the day. 30 to 32-inch barrels for clays if you prefer, and 28-inch, 20-gauge barrels or whatever your choice for the field (it’s the bottom gun in the above photo). Of particular interest with the Blasers is they all weigh the same, no matter which barrel gauge or length you use, so the smaller gauges don’t get “whippy” while the shooting experience remains consistent. http://www.blaser-usa.com/index.php?id=182&no_cache=1&L=1&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=217
The Krieghoff K-20 is just a perfect gun for wingshooting, and well, any kind of shooting for that matter! Shown here is Vicki Ash shooting her K-20 in Argentina. “If it flies, it dies!” https://www.krieghoff.com/competition/k-20-field-skeet-sporting/
Finally, all of us at Lanier Shooting Sports wish you and your families a happy and festive holiday season! We look forward to all the great times and events that 2015 brings our way!
Elizabeth Lanier is a highly regarded shooting instructor based in Virginia. She loves teaching men, women and children and introducing them to all the joys that recreational shooting brings forth! Founder of the G.R.I.T.S. (Girls Really Into Shooting), she is a leading advocate of women in the shotgun sports and this fall will be planning shooting events centered around the G.R.I.T.S. mission of shooting for the pure fun of it as well as planning trips for not only women, but everyone. Visit the Lanier Shooting Sports web site at http://laniershootingsports.com.