Maria Spinks, Safari Club International Red Deer and District Chapter vice-president, will be at Ladies’ Range Day on June 8. The event is for women who want to get comfortable with firearms in a safe environment. Photo supplied

Ladies’ Range Day in Red Deer to teach women to shoot guns safely

Apparently, there’s still stigma around women hunters in central Alberta.

When Maria Spinks, Safari Club International Red Deer and District Chapter vice-president, says she is a hunter, people are often surprised.

“I get a lot of questions where people ask me ‘you hunt?’ And I say, ‘oh yes, I hunt,’ because it’s not typical for women to hunt, so I’m somewhat in an odd situation,” Spinks said.

Spinks recalls she met a nurse once, who told her she doesn’t tell people she hunts.

“(She said to me) I can’t tell people I hunt because they get scared of me,” Spinks said, adding such a reaction is ridiculous and unnecessary.

Spinks is organizing the second annual Ladies’ Range Day.

The June 8 event, hosted by Safari Club International and the Red Deer Fish and Game Association, teaches women how to safely handle a firearm.

It also aims to reduce stigma around women hunters and empower them by introducing them to different calibres and teach them the difference between rim-fire and centre-fire and target shooting.

The organizer caps the event at 24 women, and had a waiting list last year.

At the all-day event, women get an in-class-style introduction before they go out and shoot paper targets. They shoot with handguns, rifles and pistols.

They also learn about shotguns with a dummy round (without firing power).

Registrants don’t need a licence for the event, as they’re covered under the seven range safety officers who are present at the event, guiding women every step of the way.

This year, a hunting and fishing pro, Lisa Roper, will also be present. Roper is known for her giant walleye catch around June of last year.

In 2018, the event appealed to women of all ages, from teens to a senior.

“I had a 67-year-old and she cried because it was the first time in her life she had fired a gun, and she was so happy, she was crying tears of joy,” Spinks said.

Registration for the 10 to 3 p.m. event at the Red Deer Fish and Game Outdoor Range is $50. Those interested can call 403-470-1726.

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