Scenery from the NRA Whittington Center

Even though Lars and I were in New Mexico last week for the National Police Shooting Championships, we didn’t have to chance to head up to Raton to check out the Women’s Wilderness Escape. But fear not, because Bill Poole, Director of NRA’s Education & Training Division made the journey out west to visit with the women during the first of two sessions.

“I have never been so overwhelmed by positive reactions at an event as I was at the Women’s Wilderness Escape,” said Poole. “The ladies were stopping me to say how much they loved the event. The number one word I heard was ‘empowerment’; referring to the feeling they had learning to shoot a firearm.”

The women not only had the opportunity to learn how to shoot rifles, pistols, and shotguns, but they also earned their NRA FIRST Steps certification in all three disciplines. That's something the staff just added to the program especially for the 2011 sessions.


NRA Women's Wilderness Escape

Yesterday marked the beginning of the first session of the Women's Wilderness Escape at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico. Ann Marie Foster, our Women's Wilderness Escape (and Women On Target Hunts) Coordinator is leading a group of 60 ladies through a week of hunting, shooting, outdoor activities, and camaraderie.

Throughout their eight-day adventure, the women will participate in many different shooting, hunting, and outdoor fun including learning to shoot smallbore rifle silhouette, scoped/tactical carbine, long range high power rifle, conventional and tactical pistol, historic firearms and shotgun (five-stand). Upon completion of training in pistol, shotgun and rifle, attendees will earn the NRA FIRST Steps Firearm Certificate in each discipline.

Attendees will also get to learn archery, tree-stand safety, and participate in a mock hunt. Completion of these three events will earn participants the Bow Hunter Education Certificate. Other items on the agenda: survival training, game calling, and a chance to shoot the Laser Shot system. Evening fun at the NRA Whittington Center will also include a special evening dinner buffet, a wine social, and a Friends of NRA Event!

The first session will run until the 25th of September, with the second session held immediately afterwards from September 26th -October 3rd. Although NRAblog can't be in two places in New Mexico at once, we'll be sure to bring you a wrap-up of the event and photos once Ann Marie returns to NRA Headquarters.

Prois Hunting & Field Apparel Logo on NRAblog Since the company launched in 2008, women who hunt and shoot have turned to Prois Hunting and Field Apparel to outfit themselves with the best in hunting and shooting attire designed specifically for women. NRA's Women's Programs Department is thrilled to be partnering with Prois, who has signed on to support the Women On Target® Hunting Programs and the Women’s Wilderness Escape for 2011/2012.

“Working with the NRA is great, we believe in their programs and what they do for women,” said Kirstie Pike, CEO of Prois. “NRA acknowledges that there are a lot of women out there looking to get involved in the shooting and hunting arenas.”

Based in Gunnison, Colorado, Prois features a line of performance and athletic hunting and shooting apparel for women, made in the USA and using the latest in materials and technology to provide their wearers with the best in style, fit, and function.

“Our fabrics and our features are what set us apart,” noted Pike, adding that the types of fabrics Prois uses in their apparel is a step above what women typically expect in traditional hunting attire.

According to Pike, the Pro-edition line features some of the best-selling products including the Pro-Edition Jacket with 3-ply wind-stop technology in a variety of patterns.

As part of their partnership, Prois will provide gear for Women On Target's Field Hunt Coordinators based on their specifics needs including terrain, season, and species being hunted. They will also provide items for participants of the 2011 Women's Wilderness Escape this fall.

“We're thrilled to have Prois as the official sponsor for the Women On Target® Hunting Programs and to have them join our other industry partners in supporting the Women’s Wilderness Escape events. The quality and flattering design of their hunting and shooting apparel for women is top -notch," said Women On Target® Hunt Program Coordinator Ann Marie Foster.

Foster noted that ladies can now visit Prois' website directly from the Women On Target® Hunting Program and Women’s Wilderness Escape websites.

"We wanted to make it as convenient as possible for our gals to browse over quality gear for their next Women On Target® hunting excursion or shooting adventure, and Prois has made it easy to do just that!”

To learn more about Prois or to purchase some of their amazing apparel, visit their website and visit NRA Women's Programs website to learn more about our programs made by and for women.  

NRA Women's Wilderness Escape

The NRA Women’s Wilderness Escape is filling up fast, but there are still a few slots remaining for ladies looking to enjoy the thrill of the shooting sports and fun of fellowship in the outdoors. The Women’s Wilderness Escape is one of NRA’s most popular programs for women, and it’s pretty clear to see why so many ladies want to be a part of the fun.

Where else can you enjoy learning about the shooting sports, archery, hunting, outdoor survival, and more in the company of like-minded women, all in the beautiful setting of the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico?

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains will greet you each morning on our 33,000 acre facility, providing a stunning view of high mesa country, with each evening bringing beautiful “purple mountain majesty” sunsets and scenes of antelope, mule deer, elk, and bear that call Northern New Mexico home.

During the day you’ll get the chance to learn a variety of shooting disciplines including smallbore rifle silhouette, long range high power rifle, scoped/tactical carbine rifle, conventional and tactical pistol, and shotgun (five-stand). You’ll also discover the fun of hunting while learning archery, tree stand safety, and participating in a mock hunt. You’ll leave the training having earned your NRA FIRST Steps certification in pistol, rifle, and shotgun, as well as a Bow Hunter Education Certificate.

Participants enjoy shooting at the 2010 NRA Women's Wilderness Escape

Throughout the week, you’ll experience the camaraderie and special bond that develops shooting shoulder-to-shoulder with other women and discovering the joys of the shooting sports in a supportive environment designed with your comfort in mind. The fun-filled week will wrap-up with a special dinner buffet, wine social, and Friends of NRA event to bring your adventure to a relaxing conclusion with your new friends.

Two eight-day sessions are offered, each with 60 participants. The first is September 18-25, and the second is September 26-October 3. The cost is $1500 and includes all food, housing, guns, ammunition, targets, training, materials and all equipment. Participants are responsible for transportation to the NRA Whittington Center and for transportation during the event.

These remaining slots won’t last long, so contact Ann Marie Foster in our Women’s Programs Department at or 703-267-1413 for more information or to reserve your spot!

Cabelas in Scarborough, Maine offers two free tickets to NRA's Women's Wilderness Escape on NRAblog One of the premier events for the National Rifle Association's Education and Training Department is the Women's Wilderness Escape. Taking place every fall on the 33,000 acres of the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico, the Women's Wilderness Escape is an eight-day “getaway” opportunity for women to experience a wide variety of shooting sports activities and an array of hunting and outdoor related activities.

With two separate sessions scheduled for September, space for this event of a lifetime is extremely limited. But for the ladies in the Scarborough, Maine area they will have the chance to win eight days at Women's Wilderness just by stopping by their local Cabela's. As part of their NRA Shooting Sports and Women's Weekend, the Scarborough Cabela's is giving away two tickets (all fees and travel vouchers included) on May 15th. All you have to do is sign up at the store before Sunday's drawing.

"What Cabela's is doing is just fabulous," said Education and Training Director Bill Poole. "The Women's Wilderness Escape is one of the hidden jewels of our operation and we can't thank them enough for giving the women of Scarborough a chance to experience this unique opportunity for themselves."

Located at 100 Cabela's Boulevard, the store is open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 AM - 9:00 PM and from 10:00 AM - 8:00 PM on Sunday. If you're in the area, make sure to stop on by to throw your hat into the ring.

Once entries from all participating stores (including Scarborough) arrive at Cabela's headquarters, the two winners will be selected and start packing for New Mexico!

Carol D. Valentine, a participant at this past year's Women's Wilderness Escape at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico, won an elk hunt at the end of the eight day getaway and wrote a great piece on her trip.

One Women’s Elk Hunt of a Lifetime

You never know when someone makes a comment or tells a tale how it may impact your life or others. Such is my story.

I learned about the NRA Women’s Wilderness Escape (WWE) at the NRA Whittington Center (NRAWC) from a former next-door neighbor and dear friend from when we lived in Eagan, Minn. I thought, “I want to do that.” And so I did. On Sept. 22, 2010, I drove by myself from our Piedmont home in the Black Hills of South Dakota to Raton, N.M., and the NRAWC for my nine-day wilderness escape with 99 other women and a host of caring and talented instructors. We shot everything from pistols, black powder, carbines, rifles, shotguns and archery. At the end of this amazing experience, the NRAWC offered a raffle for two cow elk hunts. Again I decided, “I want to do that.” As luck would have it, I won a hunt to take place in January 2011.

Winning the hunt was the beginning of the next stage of my experience. I didn’t have a rifle, but my husband, Gary Lillie, was very supportive, and I had the confidence I gained at WWE. I bought a left-handed Tikka T3 .270 rifle and a Nikon Buckmasters scope. More

From the Blairsville Dispatch in Blairsville, Pennsylvania

NRA Women's Wilderness Escape Novice gets firearms primer at women's wilderness event

NEW ALEXANDRIA -- Chara (Brubaker) Thomas was initially skeptical when her husband offered to send her on a nine-day wilderness excursion that would train her to shoot firearms.

Though Thomas had grown up around brothers and uncles who handled guns and hunted, she herself had little to no experience with firearms.

But, the more she thought about it, the more she came to believe that knowing how to shoot wouldn't be a bad skill to have, so she took her husband up on his offer. Now, after completing the National Rifle Association's Women's Wilderness Escape, Sept. 23 through Oct. 1 in New Mexico, she has absolutely no regrets.

"It was a very positive experience," Thomas said. "I learned about firearms, learned that you can be safe with them and still enjoy them. It's not all about hunting and killing animals."

Thomas, 39, has always been a lover of the outdoors. When she and her husband, Rick, first met, they went hiking on their first date.

Thomas has never hunted wild game, and she remarked that after attending the conference, she's not sure she'd ever want to.

"There's so much you can do with shooting," she said, including competitions and target shoots. Shooting firearms doesn't necessarily have to involve hunting, she noted.

Read the rest of the story here.

Alpen Optics Vice President of Marketing Vickie Gardner is a clever lady. Her business card, in fact, reads "Vice President of Stuff & Marketing." She explains, "I figure, who really looks at it, anyway -- plus, you have to have fun!"

Garder, of Rancho Cucamonga, California, is also a hardworking volunteer. She was honored with the prestigious Betty Lou Fegely Emerald Cornerstone Award at this year's annual meeting of the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA). Gardner was singled out for her extraordinary volunteer service to the organization. Thanks to fabulous outdoor photographer John Jefferson for snapping this photo.

Alpen Optics is known for its line of binoculars, spotting scopes, rifle scopes and accessories. Alpen's objective is to provide superior quality optical products at affordable prices while providing features and benefits normally found only on products priced much higher. Alpen offers more than 70 products and accessories, and all are backed up by a limited lifetime factory warranty.

Alpen Optics is a proud supporter of the NRA's Women's Wilderness Escape. Alpen Optics is a six time winner of Outdoor Life Magazines' Great Buy Award for the Shasta Ridge 10x42 Model Binoculars and winner of the Field and Stream Magazine's Best of the Test Award for the Model 711 20x50 Spotting Scope.

For more information about Alpen Optics, visit Stay tuned to NRAblog for additional coverage of the POMA conference.

Alpen Optics Vice President of Marketing Vickie Gardner recently announced Alpen Optics will partner with the National Rifle Association's 2010 Women's Wilderness Escape for the archery and hunting portion of the program.

A nine-day experience unlike any other, the Women's Wilderness Escape is held at the NRA's Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico.

"It's so exhilarating to find companies like Alpen Optics who stand "at the ready" to support female opportunities," says Rosemary Herr, Manager of NRA Women's Programs.

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