Friday, 1 March 2013

Fat Woman and what she really, really wants

Another day goes by and Fat Woman is faced with the reality that there is an awful lot of codswallop talked about women in the shooting world. This is to say that the codswallop is talked by the people in the shooting world about the women who shoot. Even the women who shoot are spouting some of this rubbish. Fat Woman thinks that it's about time someone did some conciousness raising, although she'll leave that to someone who can actually shoot better than she can. Fat Woman reserves the right to be annoyed by it.

The bit that frosts Fat Woman's cookies the most is the statement that "X per cent of women are left-eye dominant". There are variants on this. Sometimes the writer says that X per cent of women are "cross-dominant".  Once a writer even made claims that a large proportion of shooting women were in fact cross-eyed. Nevertheless, the theme is that the large majority of women are not right-eye dominant.

If it matters, Fat Woman is right-eye dominant. Fat Woman is currently shooting with both eyes open and doing reasonably well. When she points the gun in the right place of course. Fat Woman is used to feeling like a freak, but this is the first time her freakish existence has ever worked in her favour.

Fat Woman has discussed this statistic with several people and has been pointed to proper research at This research suggests that although slightly more women than me are left-eye dominant (19.8% versus 16.2%) there is not evidence to suggest that the majority of women are not right-eye dominant.

Fat Woman thinks it is a great pity that people are sloppy with data. Fat Woman admits that she is a little on the geeky side of things. For example, when Personal Trainer told Fat Woman that the tongue of a blue whale was the size of a bus Fat Woman immediately wanted to know what particular bus. In her defence, Fat Woman repeated this story to several of her friends who all asked the same question. Personal Trainer told Fat Woman than she had weird friends. When Personal Trainer tells Sparky a factoid Sparky replies: "Wow!" Fat Woman is a woman and uses "wow!" to mean "I can't believe you said/did something that stupid". Fat Woman didn't always do this but got the idea from a Facebook meme.

Fat Woman has checked Wikipedia and can report that Wikipedia claims the tongue of a blue whale is 2.7 metric tons or 3 short tons. Fat Woman is going to go with Wikipedia for the purposes of this argument, but is aware that it is not always the most accurate of sources. Fat Woman has cross-checked the weight of buses, both single and double decker, and they weigh much more than three tons. Fat Woman has checked the specification sheets for the newest, lightest hybrid buses as well as the estimations for older models. Weight for buses starts at five tonnes.

Fat Woman would understand if Personal Trainer hated her sometimes, but Fat Woman thinks that people should learn that data matters, and if Personal Trainer learns this now it will help him throughout the rest of his life. It will also circumvent the conversations where Personal Trainer announces that something is the size of a bus and Fat Woman demands to know what kind of bus and everyone gets annoyed that everyone else is so unreasonable.

The issue of eye dominance finally made Fat Woman reach for the calming herbal tea when she read an otherwise very good article on Shotgun Life on what women really want. Actually it was titled Five Things You Need To Know When Teaching A Woman How To Shoot A Shotgun. The writer says that 80% of women don't have eye dominance to match their dominant hand, unlike men. Fat Woman begs the lady's pardon but HOW DOES SHE KNOW? Fat Woman isn't going to go against the idea that lots of women aren't right eye dominant, but Good Gravy! To claim a four-fifths majority without data is utter presumption and reinforcing a stereotype to boot. Fat Woman was even told by a salesman that she was cross-dominant, which was utter rubbish. Fat Woman comes up right eye dominant in all the tests, whether at home or administered by the shooting coach.

Here's what Fat Woman wants you to know about women who are learning to shoot. When Fat Woman says "you" you might be forgiven for thinking she means "men" but actually lots of women have bought into the stereotypes and prejudices. Mostly she means "salespeople" in gun shops. Fat Woman has met some shockers.

(1) It is madly frustrating trying to learn to shoot when there isn't a gun in the world you can borrow that is anywhere near fitting you. It's like learning to ice skate in boots five sizes too big. When a women turns up and wants to buy her first gun it's highly unlike that she will have a perfect hold or mount. Why not? Because NO GUN BLOODY WELL FITS HER that's why. She's here to buy a gun so she can get it fitted to her. So don't form your opinions on the first time she picks up a shotgun in front of you, especially if it's a gun she's never had her hands on before. Of course her cheek won't be in the right place if she's never held a gun with a short enough stock.

(2) You need to drop your prejudices about women not being right-eye dominant. Okay, some of us might be left eye dominant, but peer reviewed research says under 20%. Also, 10% of people are left-handed.There is no way that we are most likely to be cross-dominant. Treat each of us as an individual and make sure you get your methods of checking correctly. More importantly, remember that we're beginners and might have done something wrong initially.

(3) Yes, guns might be a bit heavy, but what is this idea that women are ickle wickle dainty fings who can't heft a 12-bore? Anyone learning to shoot will suffer aching arms until they get used to it. Stop trying to push us into 20 bores all the ratting time. We will get used the weight like we would for any equipment for a new sport. We can even lift weights a little if we're that worried. If we want to shoot clays we'd like something that kicks less, even if it's a little heavier to hold.

(4) Newsflash: We have breasts. Well, we noticed you noticing that. Some of us have really large breasts. What this means is that going gun down is at best impractical and at worst plain stupid until we've got a gun that fits us. This is because the nice pointy toe of the stock is pointing in the wrong direction. The entire kickback of that gun is going into one teeny tiny point on us. Getting that gun mount right is hard enough, getting it right from gun down with something so ill-fitting is completely wrong. So stop trying to teach us how to go gun down in the middle of the saleroom or at the beginning of a lesson. We may never go gun down. It's fine by us and it's fine by the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association, so get knotted. Unless you're going to buy us some game shooting of course.

(5) You are allowed to talk to us as people. The most interesting thing about you so far as we're concerned is that you might offer useful shooting advice, or tell us where we can buy a pair of those really natty gloves. We're not out shooting because we want a torrid affair. Your wife surely understands that you won't be interested in the freaky female with her own 12 bore and a slightly unhealthy interest in niggly technical details such as the differences in shot pattern between cartridges. Although Fat Woman does look cute in her black flat cap, the effect is utterly ruined by the time she's added ear protectors, shooting glasses and her ugly green skeet vest. So you're safe, you can talk to Fat Woman. You can even talk to Fat Woman about guns. It's not like you have anything else in common, is it? Certainly not enough to make Fat Woman want to drag you off into the bushes. Not even if you have a Perazzi MX12 that you're prepared to lend.

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