By Danielle Sturgis | October 26 2009 15:06

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.


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