Texas women bringing outdoor adventures to future generations
Las Vegas, Nevada - "Now its the time to be a woman. It use to be that men didn't want anything to do with women's events and now they're asking how many we're holding. It's wonderful."
Those are the words of one Judy Rhodes, Founder of DIVA … Women Outdoors Worldwide.
Based out of Dallas, Texas, Judy's decision to start DIVA (formerly known as Texas Women's Shooting Sports) back in 1991 came to her as a mission. After growing up on a Texas ranch, she began to realize that the tradition of female shooters and hunters was disappearing. As previous generations passed, the number of new recruits failed to replenish the field. It was time for action.
"I decided to make a difference," said Rhodes. "I've raised millions for the Opera, Symphony and other organizations in Dallas because I learned from the best. But I wanted to make a difference in the outdoors. The mission called me."
So into action she went. In due time, DIVA spread to all fifty states and eight foreign countries. Partly because of the message and partly because of the founder who fit the bill.
"I'm very outspoken, I'm from Texas, blond and long legged," she laughed. "This country girl met all the requirements and now I don't think you can go anywhere without knowing who a DIVA is in the outdoors."
DIVAs in hunting and training action
Getting the message out means making the message fun. That means the shooting clinics, hunting outings, clay shoots and more all involve a bit of a DIVA twist. That means the latest in glitz, glamour, food and fashion. It's an avant garde approach that has successfully introduced more than 3,000 women to the shooting sports.
"Last year we started an an outdoor shooting clinic that included handgun, rifle, archery, dog training, blackpowder, AR-15s and modern sporting rifles," explained Rhodes. "And this year we’re going to concentrate on handgun clinics."
Their ability to provide such a service to the community comes from countless hours of hard work. That means attending events like SHOT and the Fort Worth Gun Show so they can meet with the manufactures. With a little cajoling and convincing, the big boys are helping the DIVAs make it all possible.
"We have 150 signed up to attend our classes," Rhodes said. "See, there are firearm companies, manufactures and organizations out there asking how to reach the female market. It's their new frontier. And That's what we do with the DIVAs … introduce you to the next frontier — women."
DIVAs taking part in the NRA experience
It goes without saying that these women are quite active in a number of NRA programs. With almost a hundred DIVAs participating in last year's NRA Postal Matches, and a few hundreds taking part in the various shooting clinics, it's no wonder they are anxious to see all the opportunities available at this year's NRA Annual Meeting in St. Louis.
"We’ve already made our reservations for St. Louis," claimed Rhodes. "We’re ready for the NRA so the NRA better be ready for the DIVAs."