It is natural for me to want to show others how something works. I am a mom, and my passion is watching individuals learn and process information in a safe and useful manner.
Creating Women’s Range Days back in 2011 was an event I never gave a second thought. I had been working in a gun store at the counter selling firearms and mounting scopes. Eventually, word made its way around town that a female was working in the store. That made it more comfortable for women to venture into the retailer to ask me questions about hunting and shooting.
When multiple girls continuously asked me to take them shooting, I decided that organizing an event would be better than trying to juggle many girls at once in an on-site gun range.
Utilizing the gun club , along with their volunteers, I made the first event a seamless one. I had a plan to execute, and it worked so well that the event became an annual, on-demand gun club program.
One Wasn’t Enough
Initially keeping it simple and hosting one per year didn’t last long. I began to pull in industry leaders to help, then added more than just the four stations that originally included pistol, rifle, archery and shotgun.
I set up those stations to have six women in a group, each group having a one-on-one mentor rotating every 45 minutes, so the girls had a chance to learn and safely utilize provided firearms.
As the program grew, so did the participating manufacturers and support systems, including 5.11 Tactical, Weatherby and other firearm companies, plus ammunition providers, scope manufacturers and even literature for hunting and firearms. That included Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights and Boone and Crocket. The original concept grew into hosting up to nine Range Days per year.
In addition, I decided to add other stations depending on the layout of the gun club that I was hosting. Some added just a gun cleaning station, while others could add trap and skeet, muzzleloader, carbine and a variety of archery equipment from crossbows to modern compounds.
All Ages, Walks of Life
Over the last 12 years, the age range of women participating in these has ranged from nine to 85 years old, and participants have come from all walks of life. They’ve included expectant moms and women with ailments and broken bones. The ones that really stand out are the women who show up with great hesitation, then are able to change their hearts regarding firearm use.
This is the best part of the day. I love to take the stage and explain why I host Range Days, discussing what they mean to me, then answer questions from the girls who are attending. Many might say that they simply wanted to learn about the firearms in their husband’s gun safe, while others wanted to pursue an independent hunting lifestyle.
Some Pump Action
I often start an event with disassembling a pump-action shotgun and allowing attendees to watch and participate in the re-assembly. This allows them to become more comfortable around guns and shooting for the first time. I wanted these events to be set in a way that was non-intimidating and that no license would be required. A lot of thought went into making it the most rewarding activity the girls could walk away from. At the end of the day, participants grow to respect the firearms, ask questions about which ones they shot and find out where they can purchase them. They are also curious about the next step for them in the path they want to follow, whether that is hunting, competition shooting or just understanding how guns work.
So many stories have developed from both the return shooters and the new shooters who have participated, and they range from family life to personal life, to careers. I have personally watched young girls from the age of nine start shooting and follow their dreams of attending post-secondary schools to chase goals of becoming part of the outdoor industry, while demonstrating an active interest in competition shooting.
For example, Abi attended the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show when she was just eight years old and couldn’t wait to meet and talk to me. From that year on, she returned to visit and tell me about her ambitions. I noticed how eager she was, and I invited her out to the farm to participate in a kids’ day photoshoot for my company, Just Hunt.
She came with her mom. Abi was enthusiastic about the entire opportunity and the chance to shoot a firearm for the first time. Her goal was to finish her schooling at Fleming for the Ministry of Natural Resources program to become a conservation officer. Now at the age of 17, that is exactly what she has done. Abi has also attended numerous Range Days with her dad and with her mom, who were both new shooters, and in the last few years she has assisted at Range Days. She is now part of THAT Hunting Girl Productions and is heavily involved in the outdoor industry.
Another memorable story is about a young girl named Mia who attended a Range Day with her mom. I wasn’t aware at the time that she was struggling with PTSD until her mom reached out to me after the event. She explained that Mia was nervous about the day’s activities. By the end of the day, Mia was absolutely pumped and announced she planned to start saving all her allowance to purchase a purple Savage Little Rascal .22 rifle. That would allow her to start on the path of her dream of shooting for the Olympics.
When I heard her story, I had to get involved and told myself that I was going to help her purchase that rifle. While at another event, I was speaking with a gun store owner and shared her story. Together, we decided to make this a big deal. At Select Shooting’s Annual Range Day, we got together with Savage Firearms, Bell Outdoors, and Code of Arms Production to present Mia with her dream gun to get started pursuing her dream.
Mia didn’t have any expectations of what was to come, and she didn’t even know I would be there. I was supposed to be on a plane to Alberta to shoot a show. Upon my arrival, everyone was very excited and anticipating her reaction. When the moment came, Mia was in place at the rifle range shooting a purple Savage Little Rascal .22. I had snuck in to hang out with her as she shot. She was very excited to see me, and her smile lit up the whole range. We took Mia outside after she was done shooting and we presented her with her gift, a purple Savage Little Rascal .22 rifle with a gun case, ammunition, shooting glasses and protective earmuffs in purple to match. I had written a personal invitation to invite her to be a part of the Just Hunt Junior Ambassador program, and she burst with joy upon hearing that. It was a humbling experience and also an honor to be a part of something so powerful to a young shooter.
There are many stories to share of women who were determined to overcome their ailments and define their independence by taking up a new hobby such as firearms and hunting.
Another such story involves Lisa, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. She was someone I saw daily through my business. When she broke this news to me, I offered her my bracelet that carried this engraving: “Be Real – Be Strong – Be You” on a hammered cartridge shell designed to be worn as a cuff.
That same year, Lisa attended the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show and purchased her first rifle. She didn’t end up being able to shoot for quite a few years. During that time, I made myself available to chat with her at any time and help her as best as I could given the circumstances. I created her a hot pink hoodie with Bear Strong on the front and the “O” shaped like a ribbon, and she wore it to every hospital visit.
In 2021, Lisa signed up for our Range Day. We were there filming for That Hunting Girl with Code of Arms producing the episode once again. When Lisa arrived, she had the best news ever: she was cancer-free! She waited for that specific moment to share it with me. She believed in Bear Strong. She believed she could beat her cancer, and now she wanted nothing more than to shoot the rifle she bought that day way back in 2018.
In 2022, Lisa returned to Range Day with her daughters to show them what she had learned, not only in firearms training but in being mentally strong and chasing dreams. Lisa has always wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps, and even though she had a tough setback, she proved how to get back on track and is now out there as part of our firearms family.
In 2022, we altered the Range Day to include young boys, and so my two sons Brady and Mackynzie were able to join us, along with my sister Miranda who had not shot since her days in the army. We were excited to have Tracey Wilson from the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights attend and speak at both the 2021 and 2022 events and really showcase what it means to be a part of the firearms industry. We are a family that sticks together and is growing. We are a tight-knit community with dedication, determination and the passion to share our heritage.
Many of these events have been featured on THAT Hunting Girl, which airs on Sportsman Channel. Our goal is to share and inspire others to get involved in the Take Me Hunting Outreach Program, which has been in effect since 2017. Look for a Shooting Range near you and come on along and join us!
Keep Reading NAO: Women & Girls Are Great Shooters
Note from Amanda Lynn:
Shooting has always been in my family, and I have always had a passion for firearms, how they work and how to use them properly. Growing up watching all the action movies with my dad, I was fascinated with the different types of firearms. Having the opportunity to spend some time behind the gun counter and extending my knowledge in the gun world kickstarted the Range Day events for women back in 2011. It provided me the chance to mentor women in a non-intimidating environment with the assistance of range members and range safety officers. Since 2016, the Range Day events have been televised nationally to spread the message of safe handling and to showcase the education of firearms to the younger generation. . Having girls participate from the age of nine to 85 has been a joy to see. I am currently a proud member of the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights and do my part to educate ALL people about firearms and firearm safety.