Yes I actually heard that phrase (or a reasonable facsimile of it) not once, but several times in the 1980s. Granted I was young and capable of doing some pretty stupid things but I enjoyed sharing my favorite hobby with the women I knew and every single one of them still shoots today. So I posed the question to the owner of a import/distributor/manufacturer I worked for at the time. That was the response I got, I asked again when I was working for a smaller organization and heard the same thing. Then I asked an industry rep. who also repeated it.
How times have changed. Today we have more products and more organizations centered around women shooters than one could have imagined all those years ago. When I was at the recent NRA Convention there were noticeably more women working the booths in slacks and polo shirts then there were “Booth Babes” and a lot more were on the floor examining the wares than the previous convention in St. Louis as well. Including at least one Grandmother who required a walker, but was looking for a self-defense pistol.
Bitter saw more scantily clad booth babes than I did and also spotted something else. Pinup style on some models used for advertising. Now personally I think I would find a girl dressed like she was headed to the range would be far more interesting to talk to, especially if she knew the products she was promoting. (Hint to companies: hire more women as sales and show reps, get them out to the range everyone will thank you later.) However, if you must try to use models to hawk your wares, I think men will still appreciate the pinup look and women will be less likely to go “ew” at the same time.
Update: Shelley Rae has her own thoughts on the subject. I swear I had no idea she was going to post this.