Megan Plete Postol 08.29.23
At a recent range night, a nervous woman shows up to learn more about handling her firearm. She has the basics, but her confidence is low. Enter Lisa Clemons, NRA certified pistol instructor and all-around women’s advocate. She skillfully guides the woman through shooting exercises, critiquing without judgement, creating a space where that women can gain assurance in herself and her shooting abilities. Clemons is the founder of LIPS, Ladies into Practical Shooting, which operates in the upstate New York state area. The group has one main goal in mind: connect and empower women through shooting sports and outdoor activities.
Shooting Coverage on AllOutdoor
Origins of LIPS – Ladies into Practical Shooting
When Clemons first got into shooting and hunting, there weren’t many other women around her that were interested in the same things. She loved the activities, but she felt lonely. She wanted to connect with other women. After trying out a few different options of women’s groups, including the Well Armed Woman and A Girl and a Gun, Clemons landed on launching her own group from the ground up that supports women locally in learning about and participating in shooting and other outdoor sports.
“We support all kinds of sports through LIPS,” Clemons said. “Hunting, hiking, kayaking, you name it. Our main focus is shooting and range time, but we do not exclude any other outdoor sports.” She was helped in ideation and strategy by Deerfield Fish & Game Club President Charlie Ellsworth, who came up with the LIPS acronym. “I can’t take credit for everything,” Clemons said. “I run the group and organize range time, but thankfully we have a lot of guys that support women in this area. For my events, many of the instructors are men.”
It hasn’t always been easy, though. Clemons has encountered resistance as she has built her group. “There still are some men who don’t believe we should be here,” she said. “I wanted to be a resource for women in the area. It can be hard to be a woman doing these things.” Clemons is thankful for the men that did step up to support and assist, including Ellsworth, firearms instructor Dean Grant, the late Dave Corr, and others. “I have met some of the best people I’ve ever wanted to meet in my life through the shooting sports,” Clemons said. “These are some of the kindest-hearted, most helpful people willing to help in whatever way they could.”
Growth of LIPS
Clemons has a core group of women that have been participating in LIPS activities all along and she is looking to expand upon the core theme women connectedness, not only by participating in shooting but also shifting more focus into other outdoor pursuits, such as kayaking and hiking. Shooting, though, is the anchor of LIPS and the focus of Clemons annual Women at the Range event.
Her main group of ladies also helps during the annual Women at the Range event, held at the nearby Greenfield Fish and Game Club. “There is an element of independence, and an element of power,” Clemons said. “But the main thing is that I enjoy educating people. I believe education is key. I had to start somewhere and now I want to be here for other women.”