Annie Get Your Gun
The outdoors is no place for a woman…or so some used to say. Those days are gone. Move over guys. The Becoming an Outdoors Woman program is helping thousands of women discover Alabama’s great outdoors.Ashley Davis, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Women’s Division, completed the program last year.”Going through the program was an eye opening experience,” Davis said. “I never realized how much fun shooting a gun or a bow would be. I was confident in my skills because safety was first and foremost in each activity. After the program, I joined my father in a little target practice. Boy was he surprised! He was excited about my new-found skill and the opportunity for us to do something together,” she added.Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) is a three-day adventure workshop for ladies only. Sponsored by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the BOW event offers beginner-level skills training for an array of activities ranging from scuba diving to deer hunting.The next BOW workshop is set for March 7-9, 2003, at the Alabama 4-H Conference Center near Columbiana in Shelby County. Registration is required and limited spaces are available.”This program is a great opportunity for women to become skilled and confident in various outdoor activities,” Davis said. “Many women feel they do not have what it takes to shoot a gun or bow or even to go on a nature walk. After completing the program, women realize they are quite good at outdoor activities, and many women follow the motto, ‘Anything you can do I can do better!'”BOW participants can choose from over 50 activities that range from camp cooking to mountain biking. For the more adventurous, there’s even a scuba diving class, which will be conducted by certified instructors in the Alabama 4-H Center’s olympic-style swimming pool.Participants with a creative flair may want to sign up for the nature crafts course. During the hands-on session, ladies will learn to transform nature’s bounty into treasures for the home, school or office.Of course opportunities abound for women to learn more traditional outdoor skills as well. Shooting courses include archery, muzzleloader, pistol, advanced pistol, riflery, shotgun and advanced shotgun.BOW participants also may sign up for the Alabama Hunter Education Course, which is required for every Alabama hunter born on or after Aug. 1, 1977. Certification is good for life and is accepted in all other states and provinces.Other hunting courses include bow hunting, deer hunting, duck hunting, upland game hunting, proper care and handling of wild game and a popular course called “Talkin’ Turkey” in which the ladies learn the keys to calling and harvesting a gobbler.There’s also a variety of fishing courses to choose from as well as sessions on map and compass reading, mountain biking, canoeing, nature photography and ATV handling. Participants also may choose to obtain their Boating Safety Certification during the weekend event.The BOW workshop is open to females at least 18 years of age, and attendance regularly includes senior adults.Jerry de Bin, chief of information and education for the Department of Conservation, said the BOW program attracts women from hundreds of miles away.”This event is very popular with women throughout the South. Participants travel from six to eight surrounding states to attend,” de Bin said. “They are wives, fiancés, mothers, sisters and grandmothers. The average age of participants is 41, and we routinely have participants ranging from age 18 to over age 70.”The fact that women come back and bring others with them is proof that the BOW program makes a difference,” de Bin added. “The most rewarding part is knowing we are helping families find ways to spend time together in the great outdoors.”Registration is $175, and covers all meals, lodging, program materials and instruction. All demonstration equipment is provided. Enrollment is limited to 130 applicants. Classes fill on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit www.dcnr.state.al.us to download a registration form and event details.For additional information, contact Sylvia Payne at 1-800-262-3151; or by email at email@example.com.