Marko’s excellent post about the female side of the shooting sports is enlightening and should give people something to think about when it comes to interacting with others((In short, don’t be a jerk.)).
In my case, I don’t care if someone’s male or female, tall or short, red, white, black, brown, yellow, or any other descriptive term. I was raised by good parents to treat others with respect. The army reinforced that with the lesson that “in the army, everyone is green.”
While there are certainly differences between the sexes (being male I cannot, for example, bear children), there is absolutely nothing about one’s wibbly bits that has any bearing on shooting. To think otherwise is stupid to the extreme. For an example of such stupidity, see this quote by Tam in the comments to Marko’s post:
For the doubters out there, who believe there aren?t any mouth-breathing dumbasses in the gun world, I offer the eleventeen jillion times I?ve been at a gun show and some cretin asks the guy I?m with how much he?s asking for the gun I?m carrying.
At one of my first Indy 1500?s, one guy asked the total stranger standing next to me how much he wanted for my 6.8 AR.
While I haven’t seen anything so blatant as what Tam describes, I’ve certainly seen some of my female friends get some condescension from people at the range. They let it roll off their respective backs and laughed about it in the pub afterwards, but it’s still disrespectful and has no business happening.
That said, there are certainly important differences between individuals which are relevant to shooting and need to be considered when purchasing or handling guns.
For example, I’m left-handed, and so have some difficulty effectively operating bolt-action rifles meant for righties. Some pistols, specifically Sigs, have their controls placed in positions (like the very left-rear of the grip) that are quite difficult for me to manipulate. Some people lack the upper body strength to effectively hold larger, heavier guns like the M1 Garand or to operate the slide on a particular pistol. Some people’s bodies are smaller or larger than others, so “one size fits most” stocks don’t fit them well (which is why I am a huge fan of adjustable/collapsible stocks). Some people’s hands are larger or smaller than others, so a gun’s grips may or may not feel comfortable in their hands.
Nearly all of these issues can be resolved with either training (e.g. building up strength or endurance, practice with the mechanisms of the gun, etc.), accessories (adjustable stocks, different grips, etc.), or choice of guns. None of them have anything to do with the sex of the shooter (I’ve yet to see a gun that requires a penis to operate.), but rather individual characteristics.
Be polite and friendly to everyone, regardless of what they’ve got between their legs, and you’ll do fine.