It was just 3 years ago when Britney Starr, founder of the Women’s Outdoor & Shooting Industry Dinner, attended her first SHOT Show. While there she ran into friends representing different hunting and shooting sports from all over the country. She immediately recognized the need for a coordinated event in which the growing number of female members of the outdoor community could connect with each other, and the #GunGirlDinner was born.
The only event of its kind, the Gun Girl Dinner has grown in guests and grandeur each year, attracting women from all fields in the outdoors. Lasermax, the headlining sponsor, supported the event from day one. This year, Britney was grateful to sign on many first time sponsors, including Ultimate Upland. “We’re grateful to have Brian’s support and the support of the upland community,” Britney said. She hunts with Brian and his dogs each year in her home state of Michigan. “He’s always excited about trying to get more women into upland hunting.”
This year’s event theme was “Birds of Feather,” and attendees were encouraged to sport feather accessories to embrace the theme. Past years have included Western and Old Hollywood Glam themes. “We thought the ‘Birds of Feather’ theme was perfect. It brought together hunting and the idea of people with similar interests spending time together. Tarra Stoddard, editor of “The American Woman Shooter,” attended for the first time this year and made many connections that she hopes will last a lifetime. “It is important to have these dinners so we as a group of women can continue to support and help the women’s industry grow,” said Tarra.
Rachel Ahtila, winner of the 2013 Prois Award, was there representing Prima Outdoors, and agrees the Gun Girl Dinner is an “event like no other,” representing a movement that is “spreading like wildfire.” Rachel said, “The women that this event brings together are second to none. They are real women, with real stories of inspiration and passion. The success of the evening is based upon the friendships that are formed, the community it supports, and the growth to include more each year. Ultimately, that is goal for all the women and the companies they represent here at the function. We stand together and support each other.”
This year, with the enthusiasm of a committee working on the dinner, many new ideas were added. It was the first time the event included a media hour, sponsored by XS Sight Systems. “We wanted to find a way to include men and women who are involved in companies that sponsor the event or are members of the media and give them a chance to network,” said Britney. There was also a silent auction benefiting the Task Force Dagger Foundation, dedicated to providing immediate assistance to wounded, ill, injured soldiers and the families of casualties from US Army Special Operations Command.
Kali Parmley, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Communications Specialist said, “It was an honor to be invited to a dinner where so many of the women that I look up to in the outdoor industry were gathered. There are numerous female hunters who are making waves in our industry and the dinner was a perfect way for me to meet many new ladies who share the same passions as I do. We as women are a growing group in the outdoors and seeing so many ladies gathered to celebrate that was truly inspirational.”
The dinner surpassed all expectations with almost 300 women in attendance. “It’s not just about networking,” Britney said. “It’s about celebrating what we have achieved together as a community and the momentum continues to build.” She’s already excited about planning next year’s event and grateful to the hard working committee who have built upon her original idea.
For more information about the Gun Girl Dinner, contact Britney Starr at email@example.com
*Photos courtesy of the extremely talented huntress and photographer Carrie Zylka.