Without Feather Ado – an Artemis and PNWOW Range Day
By: Kyla West, Washington Artemis Ambassador
It may have easily been a yearlong effort to finally coordinate a day at the range together. In 2017 I accepted an Ambassador role with the Pacific Northwest Outdoor Women Group (PNWOW), a community where women have a place to exchange knowledge, plan adventures together, and give thoughtful discussion to topics surrounding outdoor recreation. One of PNWOW’s co-founders, Amanda Lipke, is an avid archer, and we both were eager to build up the presence of sportswomen within the group. Unfortunately, our busy lives and schedules just never seemed to line up, that is, until last weekend.
Since I was both an Ambassador to PNWOW and Artemis, we decided to make this our first-ever co-sponsored event – and Artemis’ debut event in Washington. The invitations generated enthusiastic interest from both groups, helping us gauge the number of sportswomen local to western Washington.
On the verge of spring turkey season and sporting a new job where I get paid to understand and promote turkey hunting in Washington (is this real life?), I was all perked up with the prospect of heading to the range. A couple weeks before the event, more good news popped up like a daisy in spring – Artemis’ Program Manager, Marcia, would be joining us, too!
With all this good juju going, there couldn’t possibly be any setbacks now, right? Right.
I mean, of all the things that come with living in a temperate rainforest ecosystem, what could ever dampen plans for an outdoor activity? Not to mention one that depends on having mild-to-no wind and preferably the presence of the sun?
To likely no one’s surprise, Mother Nature had her own agenda for the week leading up to our event. The rain still hasn’t let up much as I write this, seven days after the fact. Amanda and I messaged each other frantically the night before the big day, weighing our options.
“This weather is not looking ideal for tomorrow.”
“Not really…we could cancel for another day, or we can just do shotgun if archery is a bust.”
“Yeah, I don’t know…we have 6 people signed up.”
“A small, interested group is good though?”
“For sure! I would really love to connect with more hunters!”
– A picture of the Weather Channel’s ‘Strong Wind Advisory’ is shared –
*3 facepalm emojis*
Despite the grim forecast, we decided to tough it out. The turnout? Sunshine.
For. The. Entire. Duration. Of. The. Event.
No joke – the rain came back just as we were wrapping up.
Taking a risk on unpredictable weather was well worth tossing the dice, which I think everyone could agree on. We started with my overview on turkey hunting in Washington, the display and discussion luring some peripheral interest from the menfolk who were also taking advantage of the break in weather. By attending, several new hunters learned about general spring hunting regulations, subspecies distribution, shot placement, the turkey’s bizarre likeness to velociraptors, hunting methods, and their natural history. Before the day was over, our group got to handle several different shotguns appropriate for turkey hunting. Marcia and I also made sure to drive home the importance of using lead-free shot in the field, as over 60 trumpeter swans were found dead or dying from lead shot poisoning consumption in Monroe, years after the lead ban was put into effect in Washington.
After our turkey talk, Amanda gave a technical overview on compound bows, and everyone got to spend time behind one. It had been close to 2 years since I’d last shot a bow, and I certainly needed to shake the rust off. That moment of drawing fletching back toward my cheek was unexpectedly therapeutic.
Time slows on that draw; your surroundings blur into a dim mosaic while your gaze finds laser focus aligning with the peep sight. Noise softens, and awareness of the fibers in your back, fingers, and arms resonate with tangible energy. Suddenly the bow becomes an extension of your Self, moving together as one with each breath. The relationship with air becomes the most powerful state of your being. Practiced muscles set in place as if no time had passed since you last felt this moment. One last flash of focus comes as you slowly fill your lungs and– breathe.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have shared what I know, but also to rekindle a sensation I hadn’t realized I was missing. More than that, my gratitude goes to the women who were ready to brave the weather in pursuit of knowledge and the opportunity try something new. To look at a dismal forecast with all of the wrong conditions and think, “still worth it” speaks volumes. If you ask me, that’s not only the thinking of a strong person, but the mindset of a true sportswoman.