Outside of just the firearms in Canada, we want to highlight the users. From the shops and gunsmiths to the competitive shooters it is always nice to get to know those in the industry or even the person who might be in the next bay at the range. Today we are talking with the fantastically talented Sarah Lao who can shame most of us when it comes to shooting a pistol.
Who are you, what do you do, and what does firearms ownership mean to you?
My name is Sarah Lao. I am a respiratory therapist and a competitive shooter. I mainly shoot IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation) however I also enjoy rifle shooting and sporting clays. When I’m not at work I try to get out to the range and have some fun. To me, firearms ownership means the freedom and right to enjoy the sport I love.
How did you get involved in the firearms world?
My Dad got me into firearms and trained me on how to shoot and handle firearms safely. He has been shooting IPSC since the 80’s so the firearms world has always been in my life. My Grandfather also shot IPSC and was a chief range officer. At one point our family had 3 generations shooting IPSC. I started shooting when I was 16 and immediately took to the sport.
What is your current involvement?
Currently, I competitively shoot in Canada and the US. I have been the top female shooter in my division multiple times at the IPSC Canadian Nationals and Ontario Provincials.
What was your initial reaction to the recent firearms ban?
Absolutely shocked and disturbed with how they went about it. The ban only affects law-abiding citizens and does nothing to help with crime reduction.
How are you affected by the ban?
In my sport IPSC it affects the PCC division.
How do you feel about firearms ownership as it relates to violence against women? And other vulnerable sectors of society.
I feel that it is not the legal gun owners who are using firearms for violence. However, for the most part, it is the ILEGAL gun owners who use guns for violence against women and others in society. I feel people who have acquired firearms through the proper channels are using their firearms for sport and treat their firearms with respect, following the safety rules for use and storage. These are not the individuals using firearms for violence.
Unfortunately anytime there is a violent crime involving firearms there is an outcry to makes firearms illegal. This will not fix the root of the problem. The illegal firearms will remain plentiful and the violent crimes using firearms will not decrease. Unfortunately, the law-abiding legal gun owner will lose their sport.
How have you found participating in, maneuvering through, and finding success in what is generally considered a male-dominant industry?
To be honest I don’t give it much thought. I don’t think about it being a male dominant sport until I see another lady on the range. When I see another lady I’m like YAY lets shoot together. I know it is mainly a male-dominant sport however, I know a lot of women who shoot and absolutely love it. I always encourage women to get out there and try it. I don’t care what gender you are but if you are better than me it gives me the motivation to work on my own skills to improve.
I actually find when I’m shopping at gun stores there have been times I felt like I was treated differently, “like a girl”. Unless I know the people who work at the store I try to go in, get my stuff, and run out. I usually get the “oh it’s for you?”.
In your opinion, what does the firearms community need to do to continue onward as a legitimate sport and past time? What is lacking in our community?
Education and awareness are lacking. I feel there is so much negativity towards the firearms community mainly because people are unaware. I feel like people don’t understand that the firearms community is made up of a variety of law-abiding citizens enjoying their hobby. Anyone who has taken a firearms course would know that safety always comes first. We cannot stress that enough. When I take my friends or coworkers to the range or explain the process they are always shocked at the hoops we have to jump through and the paperwork we need to own a firearm and to join a club.