Gators, Gals, and Guns
By: Kyle Grammatica
We love introducing novices to the joys of hunting and shooting sports! In a recent $2,000 grant, we funded a day of firearm and archery training at the University of Florida. The Gators, Gals, and Guns event was held in spring 2019 at the Gator Skeet and Trap Club in Gainesville. University of Florida student Joanna Ennis, a passionate sportswoman and former President of the UF Wildlife Society, created the event after learning that many of her classmates were interested in shooting sports but didn’t know where to learn. She recruited 30 women to participate, all of whom had no previous experience with firearms or bows.
“I grew up as a fourth generation Floridian, hunting and fishing, and spending lots of time outdoors,” Ennis said. “When I would talk to other women at UF and in the Wildlife Society, I found many of them had never done any hunting or fishing themselves. They were interested but didn’t know how or where to start. So, I applied for this grant to introduce them to the hobbies I’m passionate about.”
The day of the event began with a hunter safety course and firearm training led by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, National Wild Turkey Federation, and The Wildlife Society. They reviewed laws and regulations, hunter ethics
and responsibility, safe firearm handling and shooting, and range rules. Then it was time to get out on the range for trap shooting and archery. Many of the participants were eager to try shooting, but some took more time to get comfortable. One participant, Carly, was nervous at first and waited almost the entire time to take her turn. Eventually she gave it a shot and had a blast! By the end of the day all of the women had shot both the shotguns and bows.
“Everyone ended up having a great time and they were excited to come out and shoot again,” Ennis said. “Running it as an all-women’s event also made people more comfortable, especially since a lot of the instructors were women as well.” Ennis has since graduated from the University of Florida but hopes to encourage another Lady Gator to run the event again.
If you would like to support projects like Gators, Gals, and Guns, purchase our Wildlife Foundation of Florida license plate at your local tax collector’s office.