This is adapted from a speech presented by Mark Vaughan at the 2022 Women’s Fun Shoot at the Oklahoma City Gun Club, which is part of the Women on Target program from the NRA. It tells the story of current OKCGC president, Suzi Rouse’s involvement that led to this event becoming the largest women’s shooting event in the US withr 300-400 women participants each year.
I’d certainly like to take credit for 23 years of this, a wonderful event and the women who have participated over the years. But truth be told, what you see here today was because of a woman, one who stepped up to the firing line and got involved. That’s because when women get involved, things get better.
This year there are 375 of you attending our fun shoot and having a good time. This is the club’s 23rd year of hosting this event where women have learned how to shoot a gun, found a new passion, found a community, and found a place to lead. That’s because it all began when Suzi showed up at a board meeting to start a women’s division. At the time the club was for the boys, and maybe there were a few boys taken back by the idea of a women’s division. When I saw her step up, I knew the club would be made better. By that September, the tradition of the women’s fun shoot began and from there more women got involved and our club grew in new and wonderful ways.
With the advent of the women’s division, the club became more inclusive- no longer a boy’s club, and that was a good thing. Today you can bring your entire family to the club along with your friends. There are no barriers except that you come to have a good time and play by the rules- because we value safety and respect for each other. There are also women-specific groups such as Chicks Breaking Clays or the Ladies Pistol League. But if your interest is elsewhere, such as Cowboy, High Power, or Archery, then you can participate alongside the guys. They are willing to loan you a gun or bow and show you the ropes.
Having more women on the board and in the club’s leadership brought new perspectives. Many organizations know the game-changing results when women are in leadership roles. This is the advantage of diversity, you gain new ideas and new points of view and it takes you in exciting directions. This was not always the case in the firearm community. For a long time women stayed behind the scenes and let the boys play. More than ever we want women to step up to the firing line to participate, compete and enjoy. This is fun, and and this is a community– and women make it better.
Now, don’t fall into the stereotype that women are passive or a soft touch in their involvement. Women bring passion and fight. The NRA recognizes this and 3 women have served as their presidents. Marion Hammer fought in her home state of Florida to ratify the right for conceal carry which the NRA has since replicated in nearly all of the other states. This was not a fight for the weak, and Marion was a force to be reckoned with when it came to her second amendment rights. But it is not just her, I serve with women on the NRA Board of Directors, on the NRA committees, at the ORA and here at the club— they are smart, capable, and don’t back down.
When women got involved in leadership with the club, we saw growth in new and exciting ways. We are more organized, more welcoming, more cohesive, and have more offerings. This came from their ideas, their commitment, their consistency, and their steadfastness. This growth has made our club stronger.
There’s a reason why I wanted to talk to you all today about women’s involvement – because each of you, your passion, drive, and vision, is needed more than ever before.
It’s no secret that there is a faction wanting to take away your firearms—or more accurately one of your foundational freedoms. It was only 100 years ago that women gained the right to vote, something that was hard fought to gain and is hard fought to preserve. The second amendment is exactly the same- and it is not a guy’s thing. The right to keep and bear arms is a woman’s foundational right to secure her life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. The NRA has been fighting for 150 years to preserve this, again with 3 women serving as presidents and countless other women fighting in its ranks. It’s simple– we need each of you to bring more inclusivity, perspective, and passion so that our firearm communities continue to endure.
This past year we lost a great world leader, Queen Elizabeth, who left an example of the valuable leadership that women bring. She said, “It’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.”
Suzi’s first step was showing up to a match and then showing up at a board meeting. Those small steps led to what you see here today.
So here’s what you can do.
1) Join the NRA and ORA – these organizations are fighting for your rights.
2) Participate – get involved and have fun in the many firearm communities.
3) Spread the Word – tell your family and friends about today and share on social media.
If that isn’t enough, the club and the ORA are always in need of volunteers.
These are the small things that everyone can do that will make a big difference in our fight for our foundational freedoms. More than ever, we need the help of women. Because when women get involved, things get better.
For more information on OKCGC’s 2023 Women’s Fun Shoot, please visit: www.okcgunclub.org.