Each gun dealer and sporting goods retailer comes to his or her chosen profession by a different road. For women, particularly, the stories are widely diverse. They may come because of a family connection or military background, but they bring a unique and fresh point of view to the shooting experience.
Barbara Wagenknecht and her husband Don own Ozark Armory and DAW Silencers in Lincoln, Mo.
"Don is retired from the Minneapolis Police Department, and his main love is suppressors," Wagenknecht informed. "He's been building suppressors since 1983."
Originally, Barbara worked for General Mills. The company transferred her to Decatur, Ill., and then to Olathe, Kan. At the same time, Don retired from the police department and opened a gun shop in Missouri.
"I did the accounting; it seemed like I was spending more time driving back and forth to work than I was working, so in 2001 I retired and we moved to Warsaw, Mo., and I started working in the gun shop," Wagenknecht shared.
In the 16 years she has run the store, Wagenknecht has seen a big difference in dealing with business partners in the industry.
"I have a very good rapport with our sales reps," she said. "Usually when someone has something available to sell, they come to me instead of to Don because I do all the inventory. It's a decision Don and I make together, but they come to me because I run the store."
Wagenknecht has seen more women sales reps in the past few years than ever before.
"There are more at Davidson's and Zanders," she shared. "There seems to be a larger sales force of women selling guns."
The SHOT Show is one of the places that she's really seen a big difference.
"In the past, men would simply ignore you," she recalled. "It was very frustrating. Now, more attention is given to women at the show. The whole industry is much more aware of the roles that women play, and that women are purchasing guns. It has become much more attentive to the needs and desires of women."
If Jeanelle Westrom's last name makes you say, "Hey, I know that name!" you'd be right. Westrom, the owner of Davenport Guns in Davenport, Iowa, is the third generation of her family to be part of the gun industry.
"My grandfather was a gunsmith, and my dad shot on the Army Marksmanship Unit as a pickup shooter," she said. "My sister and I picked up his brass, and when we got big enough we pulled targets for him."