Pretty Powerful in Pink
Colorful Firearms Aim to Attract Women Hunters
WAUKESHA, Wis. (MCT) - As Gary Goessner, his buddy and their two pre-teen daughters shopped the Gander Mountain store hunting department, the two girls were immediately drawn to a rifle and a youth shotgun.
But it wasn't the firepower of the guns that attracted the girls' attention. It was a color: Call it blaze pink.
The .22-caliber Crickett rifle ($169.99) has a bright pink stock, and the Remington Express Jr. .20 gauge shotgun ($379.99) has a laminated pink-and-black stock emblazoned with the slogan "Shoot like a girl if you can!"
The guns are aimed, so to speak, at girls and women - who are part of a growing segment of all things outdoors, explained store manager Chris Hanson.
To at least some extent, it seems, pink works.
"I think that's just wrong," Goessner, of Oconomowoc, half-joked about the five pink guns now on display in the store. But he said pink is OK with him - if not for him - as long as the guns aren't treated like toys.
"I want them interested in it," Goessner said of his daughters and hunting "but it's got to be the right way."
Gander Mountain and a Cabela's in nearby Richfield - which was selling a pink pistol the other day, along with two pink long guns - are displaying more than promoting pink firearms.
But the decidedly feminine form of a traditionally male pursuit may be catching on.
Hanson said the pink rifle sold well enough last year in its first season in Gander Mountain stores that the pink shotgun was added late this summer.
Connie Cody, a 48-year-old administrative assistant in Kenosha, said she only wishes she had seen pink guns for sale after she completed her hunter safety course about 18 months ago.
Since then, she has bought a 9-millimeter pistol, a .357 revolver, a .38 Derringer and a .380 pistol, all in traditional hues.
"If they stock them," Cody vowed after learning about pink guns, "I'm going to buy one."
Cynthia Good, editor of Pink, a new Atlanta-based national business magazine for women, points out that many businesses, including United Parcel Service and Federal Express, have developed ads specifically for women.
"I'm not surprised in the least that they're making guns that are pink," she said.
Michelle Scheuermann, spokeswoman for The Sportsman Channel, the Wisconsin-based cable and satellite TV network, agrees. Manufacturers of outdoor equipment are trying to expand their markets and they know pink can help, she said.
In Baraboo, Jim Astle, owner of Jim's Gun Supply - the store slogan is "I'll get you loaded" - has been coating guns in pink and other colors for four years. His 12-year-old daughter owns a pink camouflage shotgun.
"Females want to shoot guns, but they want them to look pretty, too," Astle said. "Guys could give a rat's butt what their gun looks like."
Which isn't to suggest that pink guns are all the rage. Many gun shops don't stock them. And even those that do feature the fairly fashionable firearms don't necessarily employ clerks who are wild about them.
"You could go goose hunting with a pink gun," said a clerk at one gun counter the other day. "I dare ya."
Still, who would ever have thought you'd ever see a pink gun up in northern Wisconsin? Sure enough, there's a pink .22-caliber rifle on display at Mel's Trading Post in Rhinelander.
"The most common response in the store is 'What the hell?' " when people see the pink gun, said owner Mitch Mode."But it addresses the reality of a lot of girls going through hunter safety (courses) with their parents."
Asked about pink guns at the Saukville Rifle & Pistol Club the other day, 20-year-old Evan Kilpatrick of Glendale said he's never seen one on that shooting range. He just kind of shrugged at the notion.
"I guess it's a personal touch or whatever," he said. "It's no big deal."
(c) 2007, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
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