What It's Like to be a Female and Work in a Male Dominated Field

*WARNING: Hunting photos ahead, viewer discretion is advised*

 

Back in my hometown, I work at an outdoor sports store (hunting, fishing, camping) and we have a few major departments that need multiple people to cover them while the store is open. I work in the hunting/gun department, because that’s what I love. Almost every fall, I go hunting with my grandfather, who taught me all that I know; I also go with my fiance.

 

Picture compliments of the author

I used to be up at the front end, checking people out and making sure they leave with everything they need. However, I was offered a position in the hunting department from my awesome boss, as they needed more full-time help and she knew I would be home all summer. I knew most of the men I would be working with, as I was the only woman back there and it had been a while since there was a female presence at the gun counter. There were somethings I expected, and others I did not.

First, I should mention that, while I was trained on where things are and the paperwork for selling firearms, I had knowledge of mostly rifles. Handguns and shotguns were new concepts to me since I had never used shotguns for hunting and I was too young to handle handguns before this year. I should also note that I was more of a hunting nut than a gun nut, but I wanted to be in an area that I would have more fun in.

Obviously my first few weeks were rough, as I was getting familiar with firearms (other than hunting rifles) and how to open them, close them, put the hammer back without dry firing, and the like. Sometimes customers or my coworkers had to show me how to handle them, but after one demonstration, I had it down for the next person. I learned the kind of trouble I would have later on.

 

Walther PK380 - Picture compliments of author

There were times when men would come up to the gun counter to shop for a new firearm. When I greeted them at the counter, they would immediately say they were “just looking” but they would later come back from one of the aisles with another associate asking to see a gun, taking them away from stocking freight, helping someone else, or doing a daily chore. I could just only assume that they didn’t think I knew anything about guns and was only there for eye candy and to hand them firearms.

One instance that sits in my mind was pretty funny. I had an older gentleman come up to me, looking for a new pistol. I handed him two that were pretty similar, same manufacturer and size, but there was about a $40-$60 price difference. Obviously, one can never know every little thing about a gun and he asked me the difference between the two. I explained that I was not sure, but thought it may be due to the model, the grips, and the magazine capacity. He looked at me shocked and said something along the lines of, “Well if you don’t know anything about them, take them away from me.” He was able to close the slide on one, but struggled with the other. He angrily handed it to me and said, “Here if you opened it, you can figure out how to close it.” I was already frustrated, but quickly released the slide with a smirk on my face. He was shocked and said, “Well how did you do that?” I told him, “Oh I don’t know, I don’t know anything about guns.” He shaped up and we ended up having a better conversation, but I was awestruck by how mad he was.

I have noticed that some men will avoid me to talk to my male coworkers about guns, and even knives. One older gentleman was looking for a knife and explained it had a sharp, curved edge on top. When I asked if he was looking for a knife with a gut hook, his eyes lit up and he said yes. Later on, he told me that he didn’t first say he was asking for a gut hook knife because he didn’t think I knew what it was. He kinda felt like an idiot when I explained to him that I had been hunting with my grandpa ever since I was eight and he even knew who my grandpa was. I even pointed out my Pronghorn Antelope that is hanging in the store.

 

Gut Hook Knife

Women, however, feel more comfortable with me there, as I can offer my opinions on what they should get for their first handgun purchase or a hunting rifle. But some men who come in without their girlfriends/wives/daughters also come to me, as I offer a woman’s perspective, and the guys at the gun counter are not always going to know what a woman wants. It is awesome though sometimes, as I’ll have both men and women come up to me and say that they think it’s great to have a woman back in the hunting department.

I love my job. Things have been getting better and I learn new things every day. My coworkers help me out too, as there’s things we can all teach each other. At the end of the day, I am proud of what I do and proud to be in an area that I can enjoy and grow. My store is one of the best stores in the nation and I would hate to give it up anytime soon.

 

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