Florida Georgia Line’s song “Cruise” filled my ears and I jumped up in bed. While the alarm on my phone is ridiculously loud, I do love that song.
It was the first day of the NRA’s Women’s Wilderness Escape at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania. I was pumped! I got ready for the day in my beautiful hotel room, grabbed my bag of media equipment, and headed to breakfast. Like always, I was running late so I grabbed a quick bite at the breakfast buffet and to-go cup of coffee and headed up to the sporting clays course. The resort is MASSIVE so I had to drive to the sporting clays course. I headed into the restaurant at the course and meet up with the ladies I met the night before at dinner just in time for the shotgun course to begin.
Don Sipes, the shotgun guru if you will, is a National Shotgun Coach Trainer from NRA’s Education and Training Department. He joined us that weekend to give lessons on all things shotgun. First, he explained firearm safety and the different parts of a shotgun. Then he went into stance, mount, lead, and a general overview of sporting clays. Most of the women attending the escape are brand new to shotguns, while others have shot trap or been hunting a few times. I, on the other hand, have been shooting clays for over five years, yet still managed to soak in a few tips from Don (don’t worry, I’ll share said tips in a later blog post). It was time to hit the course. The resort has three different courses along with a covered five-stand for the ladies to choose from. The women broke into groups with similar skill levels and joined their trappers on the course.
The ladies got some practice in before stopping for lunch on the restaurant’s patio which overlooks a scenic lake. However, it wasn’t long before they eagerly headed back out to the course. I jumped around from group to group, observing, learning, taking pictures, and even shooting a couple clays myself.
The groups may have varied in skill level but they definitely did not vary in fun. These ladies had a BLAST! It was incredible just how quickly they were learning from their trappers, becoming more comfortable with the shotgun, and actually shooting the course very, very well. Clays were breaking left and right, high fives were being thrown, and the smiles could be seen for miles. By the end of the day, the women who had never shot a shotgun before would have given me a run for my money.
While the women were having the best time getting to know each other and learning a new sport, I was having a blast just watching them. These women came from all different walks of life. They were different ages, came from different states, and had different experiences with firearms. But the comradery among these women, who had never met before, was simply incredible. They were learning together, having fun together, and building friendships that would go beyond this weekend.
After a long day breaking clays, we headed back to the hotel smelling of gunpowder and quickly got ready for dinner. Following dinner, we attended a Refuse To Be A Victim seminar, taught by Sgt. Mike Hayes. The seminar is extremely informative and eye opening. I’ve written about the NRA program several times and was very familiar with its curriculum, but this is my first time taking the course. It is definitely something every person needs to attend. Young or old, male or female, this seminar makes you think. It makes you aware that making simple and easy changes in your daily routine, can help you avoid a dangerous situation.
When the first day of the escape came to an end, I. was. beat! It had been a day full of firearms, friendship, and fun….and that was just day one of three.