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.

Women's Wilderness Escape - Welcome

We're sorry to say that every slot for the 2010 Women's Wilderness Escape has been filled. But there's still a chance to be part of this life changing experience. And if you're a certified NRA rifle or pistol coach looking for a couple of weeks to get away, then Women’s Wilderness Escape Coordinator Patricia Zollman has the answer for you:

Imagine sharing your expertise while on 33,000 acres of western mountain terrain in the scenic high mesa country of New Mexico. It’s where the elk and antelope roam and the skies are so wide you can almost see back in time. Yes, it’s truly a volunteer’s dream job and it all happens at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico - the most comprehensive shooting center in the nation.

NRA Women’s Programs is seeking volunteer event staff who would like to support the 2010 NRA Women’s Wilderness Escape from September 20 through October 4. Specifically we are looking for NRA Certified Rifle and Pistol Coaches.

NRA covers gasoline, food and housing expenses for all Women’s Wilderness Escape staff. For more information or to request a 2010 event staff application and information packet, call Rosemary Herr at 703-267-1399 or Patricia Zollman at 703-267-1378. Come join us!

Archery at the Women's Wilderness Escape

NRA is proud to host the 3rd annual Women's Wilderness Escape scheduled for September 23 – October 1, 2010 at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico.

The cost of this nine-day retreat is $1,250 and is open to women 18 and older. Fee includes housing, food and all event activities. Transportation is not provided.

No experience is necessary, and all firearms and ammunition are provided. Participants will learn to shoot rifle silhouette, long range high power rifle, black powder rifle, pistol, trap, skeet, sporting clays and archery. Other activities include map reading, camping, survival training, game calling, hunter education and Native American history.

Find out more about the Women's Wilderness Escape and read what some of our 2009 participants had to say about the event.

For a taste of what this 9-day program entails, check out NRAblog's coverage of the past two years' Escapes.

Longtime friend of NRA Lisa Metheny is attending this year’s Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show as a freelance journalist. “My objective here at the show is to obtain story materials, work for the companies I’ve partnered with by promoting their products, and generally mesh everything together,” Metheny told NRAblog. When she says “everything,” she isn’t exaggerating. Metheny juggles three teenagers and a husband; a healthy hunting addiction; archery, shooting, and outdoor events; and a skyrocketing career.

Pictured above, Metheny was happy to talk to us -- and maybe happier to have the chance to rest her feet. “It’s great to be here, but it has been a long week,” the Terre Haute, IN-based writer said with a smile.

She is affiliated with SHE Outdoor Apparel, Nikon, Winchester, Remington, and Browning. But when it comes to SHOT Show, NRA is her first stop of the day.“I swing by your booth every day to meet the different people hanging around,” she said. “The NRA is vital to what I do, and I help in any way I can, whether it’s getting the word out about a Women On Target hunt or volunteering to work a booth at next weekend’s NRA Great American Hunting & Outdoor Show.”

So what have the past few days looked like for Metheny? “The Majority of each day I’m sitting in press conferences, listening to new product demos, and walking the floor.”

She has been staying busy, and no two days this week have been alike. "I do a variety of things with the companies, working to connect the dots as a liason between some of the industry folk and the media representatives." Metheny has found a home in the Professional Outdoor Media Association."It's just like part of my family now," she said of the group.

When asked for her advice for a successful SHOT Show as an independent journalist or media consultant, Metheny was quick to respond: "A few weeks prior to the Show I’m tweaking my schedule, setting up appointments, andgetting press conferences organized."

"There's a lot of scheduling that goes into it. You cannot come in the day of the SHOW and just hope someone has time to meet with you on that particular day."

Thanks for your words of wisdom, Lisa -- we look forward to seeing you in Maryland for the NRA Great American Hunting & Outdoor Show. Bookmark Lisa's blog, and stay tuned to NRAblog for the latest on Lisa Metheny!

Read about Lisa’s experience with last year’s Women’s Wilderness Escape here.

NRA Whittington Center - site of the NRA Women's Wilderness Escape

If you've been unable to attend the 2008 or 2009 Women's Wilderness Escape, this year's for you!

The 2010 Women's Wilderness Escape is currently accepting applicants. The beautiful NRA Whittington Center, pictured above, will again play host to this event. Fill out this form to request your application packet. 

For a taste of what this 9-day program entails, check out NRAblog's coverage of the past two years' Escapes

 Special thanks to Victoria Shipp for sharing her report with NRAblog: 

In September 2009, I had one of the most exhilarating, interesting and memorable experiences of my life. I was one of the lucky; fifty women (ranging in age from late twenties to mid-seventies!) chosen to participate in the NRA’s Women’s Wilderness Escape, held at the NRA Whittington Center near Raton, New Mexico. This Center is set on 33,000 acres of unspoiled landscape which is home to mule deer, antelope, brown bear, rattlesnakes and I’m sure much more. Although the deer really camouflage themselves well, they seem to have no fear of humans as they wander at will.

This “Escape” was in its second year and I can only foresee that there will be many more to follow since it gives women a chance to learn about, and use firearms, hunting techniques, game calling, personal safety, just to name a few things that they may never have an opportunity to experience anywhere else. The organization, scheduling, work and time that the folks at the NRA headquarters in Fairfax, VA, put into this program is truly amazing. In addition to the instructors, there were dozens of volunteers, people who love what they do and are willing to help for two weeks. The camaraderie at the Center is wonderful; all the staff were willing, ready and able to assist, and the women got to know each other fairly quickly. More

Archery at the Women's Wilderness Escape

Lisa Metheny was an instructor on the archery range at the 2009 Women's Wilderness Escape. But that task alone was not enough! Metheny was also taking photographs and interviewing participants.

Below, read Metheny's article over at

NRA Hosts Women's Wilderness Escape

For nine days this fall, a diverse group of homemakers, teachers, nurses, a district judge, commercial pilot, veterinarian, and even a doctor all shared a common desire: the longing to experience something unique, unexpected, and challenging. Something that would force them to step outside their comfort zones. Many of the women received an encouraging nudge from a supportive spouse, while others made the decision entirely on their own. But each eventually chose to venture to the Land of Enchantment for an adventure camp for women, the National Rifle Association’s Women’s Wilderness Escape (WWE). 

Alaska’s Shauna Pajak summed up the way many of the women felt about their journey. “I was looking for adventure,” she said. “I am not interested in sitting at home quilting. As women, we tend to get stuck in a rut of child rearing or growing our career or providing for our family.”

From Sept. 24 to Oct. 2, 50 women who started out as strangers awoke each morning to a new adventure in New Mexico at the NRA Whittington Center. As the week progressed, one might have expected to see fatigue, frustration, and maybe even boredom setting in. Instead, a spirit was building within this special group of amazing women, a spirit of sisterhood and an appreciation for our freedom and our country. A spirit of self-confidence that comes from the contagious energy of enthusiastic women.

Shooting rifles at the 2009 Women's Wilderness Escape in Raton, New Mexico According to Rosemary Herr, manager of NRA’s Women’s Programs Department, “We had another wide cross-section of amazing women that participated in WWE this year. These women simply amazed me with their character.”

Candy Sugarman from North Carolina might have summed up the camaraderie best: “The ladies are awesome. The best part is that we are all cheering for each other. It is the safety of learning something without feeling that someone is criticizing you. You feel safe to make mistakes. You feel great when you do a little better and you feel fabulous when you do what you’re supposed to be doing. I can sleep later. I don’t want to miss a thing, and I would recommend this event to every woman that I know.”

The underlying theme of the event can be summed up in three little words: “You Go Girl!” Each day, one participant after another stepped up to the various shooting lines and challenged only herself, while at the same time knowing that she had the full support of the other participants and instructors. At each event, rounds of cheering seemed to drown out the sound of gunfire. Even the normally quiet sport of archery experienced repeated outbursts of laughter and applause as self-confidence grew with each and every bull’s-eye that was hit.

“I was astonished at how much I learned,” said Melissa Maestas from New Mexico. “A lot of the impressions that I had in my mind about archery and muzzleloading were totally wrong. But when I tried them I had an ‘ah-ha’ moment, like ‘Oh my God,’ I can actually do this and I want to do this.’”

For many of the women, this was their first opportunity to shoot muzzleloading firearms, high-powered rifles, pistols, archery equipment, shotguns, and fully automatic firearms. The camp was outside most of the women’s comfort zones, but that did not slow anyone down. As predicted, the participants flourished in this new environment.

Perhaps the smile on the face of London native Victoria Shipp said it all.

Continue reading Metheny's story here.

Linda Solyntjes was part of the 2009 Women's Wilderness Escape last month at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico. Above is a collection of her photos from start to finish.

Click the dialogue balloon on the bottom left of the photos to read her captions.

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