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Female Shooting Sports Participation Continues Strong Growth


The remarkable rise in women’s participation in hunting and other shooting sports during the past several years is not big news in the outdoors industry. If you are a manufacturer or retailer, you are no doubt keenly aware of the importance of tailoring offers and products that appeal to the female outdoor enthusiast.


While the level of female participation in all types of hunting and target shooting isn’t a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, it is good to step back now and then and get a feel for what “more” women really means.


It has been a couple years since we looked at female hunting and shooting participation here at the Realtree Business Blog, so let’s crunch some numbers with the help of recent statistics from the National Sporting Goods Association. The NSGA’s report, Sports Participation in 2016 – Shooting Sports, is quite revealing. Here are some of the big takeaways over the past 10 years. (Statistics include females of all ages.)


  • Hunting participation among females (firearms and bowhunting combined) grew from 2,691,000 in 2007 to 3,675,000 in 2016. This means that females accounted for 13.3% of all hunters in 2007 and 20% in 2016.


  • Participation increased in all 11 major categories of hunting and shooting sports studied (see chart below), but bowhunting has seen the biggest surge in participation: from 445,000 in 2007 to 1,656,000 in 2016, a whopping growth of 272%! According to the report, 28.3% of all bowhunters were female in 2016, compared with only 7.7% in 2007.


  • Hunting with firearms also saw a healthy increase in female participants, growing by 27.4%, from 2,521,000 in 2007 to 3,212,000 in 2016.


  • One of the most remarkable surges when looking at age categories came in the hunting (firearms and bowhunting combined) category. Some 354,000 women age 25-34 hunted in 2007, but their numbers had nearly doubled to 665,000 in 2016. Not surprisingly, that age group also saw the biggest surge in the bowhunting category, growing from 73,000 in 2007 to 391,000 in 2016!


  • Growth in target shooting with both handguns and shotguns was also notable, an increase of 26.1% and 28.6%, respectively. According to the report, 31.6% of all handgun shooters were female in 2016, as well as 24.2% of all shotgun shooters.




Female Shooting Sports Participation 2018

While these statistics paint a nice picture, there is no doubt that participation growth in many sectors of outdoor participation are challenged, particular in hunting categories. Hopefully everyone in the industry is on the lookout for opportunities to invite new participants. Here’s a refresher on the topic: 5 Ways to Promote New Hunting and Shooting Activities.


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