Feeling Comfortable at the Range
I have been shooting for about 4 years, and carrying for 3 of those years. I have been to my fair share of ranges, in both Utah and California and have always been treated with respect. This changed for me when I recently went to a newer indoor range in the Salt Lake area.
My boyfriend and I went to go celebrate my college graduation with a night at the range. I had been to this particular range once before, but my boyfriend had not. I have also owned guns and been shooting for a little longer than my boyfriend, so we decided that I would take the lead in our interactions with the range staff. When we arrived, I went up to the counter, and my boyfriend was a couple steps back behind me. The employee kept deferring to my boyfriend for everything. At first, I assumed it was an honest mistake. It kept going and became increasingly clear that this employee was intentionally speaking to my boyfriend over me. He directed every question and decision to my boyfriend instead of me, even when I was right in front of him. At the end of our interaction, it came time to pay for our targets and range time. I took out my credit card and paid for both my boyfriend and myself. After the payment went through, the employee turned to my boyfriend asked him if he wanted a receipt. My boyfriend and I were both in shock over the treatment we received.
After thinking about this experience, I instantly felt sad. It is hard to think that there may be women out there who have only had a range experience like the one I described, and no positive experiences. While it may not seem like a big deal, situations like this one can be dangerous. Imagine being a women who is new to shooting and whose only experience is being disrespected by range staff. That could be a major deterrent for some individuals and could prevent them from going to the range and getting the opportunity to practice with their firearm.
It is important to note that not all ranges or range employees are like this. However, treating female customers in a way that puts them below male customers is not okay.
If you have the option, I would suggest “range shopping.” Try out the different ranges in your area and find the one where you feel the most comfortable. When you feel comfortable and free from judgement, you will be able to get more out of your training. Remember that you are there for yourself. You are there to practice and make yourself better. You are not there to fit into a stereotype or to be judged by people who don’t know you.
Confidence can be hard. Asserting yourself can also be hard. I myself struggle with both, but I know that using them to my advantage will help me to be more successful in my training. In the end, it is only about you and your progress, not about what some guy working the gun counter thinks.