Monday, November 20, 2017 Elyria 33°


Women in the Outdoors

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Hill & Dale Sportsmen’s Club stays under the radar to most outdoor enthusiasts. They don’t advertise, they don’t have to. If you have to ask about membership, you can’t afford it. It occupies an undefined area but must be a thousand acres of choice sporting grounds right in Medina, which is the domestic equivalent of hiding an elephant under the coffee table. All that notwithstanding, they are a generous bunch when it comes to helping out the future and popularity of the outdoor sports with nonmembers. On the kind of rainy day that keeps all but the most devout duck hunters at home, I found a group of about twenty women, dressed out in colorful ponchos and laughing loudly, at an outdoor event made for the ladies only!

Women in The Outdoors is a project of the National Wild Turkey Federation that enlists the help of clubs on the local level to promote exactly what the name says. The shortest route to making that happen isn’t a big advertising campaign or celebrity endorsements, it’s simply holding events to give women of all ages the opportunities to try their hand at outdoor sports that are new to them in a friendly environment with expert instructors on hand.

Don’t let the sponsorship fool you, I didn’t see or hear any mention of turkeys at the event. Organizers have blended a mix of interests and events to reach the broadest possible audience of new Outdoorswomen, with seminars and workshops on every topic from making clothespin dolls, Christmas lights and greeting cards to more canoeing, fishing, and self-defense. There’s even a seminar on something called, “Fairy Gardens”. I’ll have to check that out next year, maybe.

For Sharon Burke of Bay Village it’s her fourth Women in the Outdoors event. She said she keeps coming back because the events are something she doesn’t normally do and she likes to keep challenging herself. “This is a good thing” as she puts it and this year she even brought her daughter along too. We caught up with Sharon on the archery range, but she said she was keen to try the canoe, handgun, rifle, and fishing events as well.

On the air rifle range we ran into Amanda Dunson who made one of the longer trips to be here today, as she’s studying summer term at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. It was her first time shooting an air gun, “But it’s definitely something I need to do again!” Amanda found it more challenging than she had thought, and says it was difficult to site the rifle at first, but she feels like she learned a lot. Amanda came to the event with family members from Fairview Park.

The shooting sports are of course a big draw at this event, but personally, I’m surprised at the meteoric rise in popularity of archery. In 2000 the actress Gina Davis made a splash with her endeavor to make the US Olympic team only two years after she first picked up a bow. In the 2012 London Olympics, archery was the most viewed event on television.  But movie stars aside the most decorated Olympic athlete of the shooting sports is Kim Rhode, a trap and skeet shooter who (besides setting world records) has now won medals for the United States in four different Olympiads! The inspirational effect of a popular, fast-moving sport with a modern Annie Oakley behind the trigger winning gold for the USA, televised, should not be understated!

Ann Sereday of Seven Hills was blasting away the clay pigeons on the trap course in a light drizzle of rain when she took a few minutes to let me know how the weather has affected her day. “I took more crafts than I usually do. I hope to get a chance to try air rifle.” Even still, she and Mary Kay Moore from Fairview Park didn’t seem to notice the rain at all.

I could say that this impresses me; their persistence in the face of foul weather. I’ve found many the seemingly tough-as-leather outdoorsman call it a day when the skies cloud over and the rain starts to fall. But there’s one constant that keeps the real outdoors types (men and women alike) in the field; when you’re having a lot of fun doing what you love with good people you like to be around, no amount of precipitation can dampen your day. Try something new and Get Outdoors!

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