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Women to get their shot at the outdoors

June 10, 2005|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - It's hard for women who want to learn such male-dominated skills as recreational shooting, using a bow and arrow, fishing and tying flies, fixing cars, even calling a turkey into gun range to find someplace to do it and someone to teach them.

It's just as hard to find women who want to learn these and other outdoor skills, said Elisabeth Yeun, 53, of Chambersburg, Pa.

Yeun was one of 17 women who participated in the first Women in the Outdoors program at the Greencastle Sportsman Association off Williamson Road.

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She said she had never learned things like which mushrooms are safe to eat, how to slide down a zipline, start a fire with flint or about cold weather survival until she became involved with Women in the Outdoors.

The second annual Women in the Outdoors event will be June 25 at the Greencastle Sportsman Association.

A nationwide program, it was started seven years ago by the 4,500-member National Wild Turkey Federation as a way to reach out to a new audience - women.

The local program is sponsored by two area federation chapters - the Tuscarora Longbeards and the Fort Chambers Chapter.

Bobbie Kuhns, 40, of Chambersburg, Pa., chairs the five-member committee organizing this year's daylong Women in the Outdoors event.

Kuhns and her committee plan events according to the number and kinds of experts, certified and amateur, they can recruit to teach the hands-on classes.

This year, the committee has lined up teachers for archery, basic bicycle and car repair, orienteering, kayaking, photography, birding, outdoor cooking, first aid, shotgun, rifle and handgun shooting, fly tying and fishing, turkey calling, backyard habitat, photography and organic gardening.

Participants can choose five activities from the list, Kuhns said.

"We're trying to get women involved in outdoor activities without having to spend a lot of money on equipment," she said. "All of the equipment is provided."

It costs $45 for the day. Breakfast and lunch are provided.

The program helps women develop a greater understanding of wildlife conservation while enjoying and learning outdoor skills, survival techniques and physical training, Kuhns said.

Participants meet other women who share the same enthusiasm for the activities.

"It's something I wouldn't do on my own," said Mary Loy, 47, of Chambersburg. "It's a chance to try something different."

"It's hard to find women who want to do these things," Yeun said.

She said her initial interest in Women in the Outdoors has led to other outdoor activities with area women. She bought a kayak and paddles regularly on the Conococheague Creek with a group of women, she said.

All three women have attended the two-day, statewide Women in the Outdoors event in Somerset, Pa.

"These women are not afraid of anything," Yeun said.

Loy, like Kuhns, is married to a man who hunts. Thanks to skills and interest developed in Women in the Outdoors, she's now headed for the woods for the first time.

"I have my own shotgun, a 20-gauge Remington automatic. It's a chance for me to do something different, something I wouldn't do on my own," she said.

Kuhns tried her hunting skills for the first time in the spring turkey season, but had no luck, she said. She hopes to do better later this year hunting elk in Colorado.

Yeun isn't interested in hunting.

"My husband is uneasy about guns and he doesn't want one around. I don't want a gun, but I'd like to try to shoot some of those clay things," she said referring to trap shooting.

"It's hard, but I hit one once," Loy said.

Kuhns said some women ask if their husbands can come with them to the women in the Outdoor event.

"It's for women only," she said.

"It's about independence," Yeun said. "It's about women who get up and try it, who don't have to be prodded."

For information on the Greencastle event, call Kuhns at 717-267-2514 or e-mail her at nbkuhns@blazenet.net.

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