Later this month the line between those activities considered to be dominated by men and those appropriate for women will be crossed once again as Loudoun women have the opportunity to learn to fire a rifle, shoot a bow and arrow and survive in the outdoors during the fourth annual Women in the Outdoors event.
"There is nothing like this that gives women the opportunity to get together, support each other and learn together about things they might not learn otherwise," Brenda Davis, one of the women helping to organize the event, said.
Hosted by the Loudoun Chapter of the Isaac Walton League of America, a conservation organization, Women in the Outdoors, will provide a one-day experience for women of all ability levels to try something new and explore the outdoor environment that the county has to offer.
"It gives an opportunity for women to learn many of the skills that men already know," Elizabeth Siegert, organizer of the event, said. "And it is such a great learning environment."
BEING HELD Sept. 29, the program offers several different four-hour classes for women to choose from. Each attendee will be able to choose two different classes, one beginning at 8 a.m., and one following the lunch break.
"The Isaac Walton League hosts the day for us," Siegert said. "We hold it on their land and they contribute money so we can do it."
The most popular class, Siegert said, is the outdoor survival skills class, which focuses on teaching the basics of outdoor survival. The purpose is to help women in case they become lost on a hike or while camping.
"The women will learn how to build a fire outdoors, how to build a lean-to," she said. "It’s about safety and being prepared. The practical application of these skills."
Other classes include map and compass instruction, canoeing, archery, basic handgun shooting, skeet shooting, rifle marksmanship, bird watching and fly-fishing. The instructors, Siegert said, range from Army Rangers to National Park rangers, so the women can be confident they are receiving the highest quality instruction.
"All of these instructors are experts," she said.
Since the event is designed to expose women to skills they may not learn during their every day lives, Women in the Outdoors is open to all women ages 14 and up.
"So mothers and daughters or nieces can come together and have a fun day," Siegert said.
IN ADDITION to the various classes, the event will include some discussion about conservation.
"This is an outreach program through the National Wild Turkey Federation, which is a conservation group," Siegert said. "They are very supportive of both hunting and environment conservation."
Davis said that while Women in the Outdoors is an event held across the country, each event tries to flavor their program with something that is specific to their local area. The Loudoun program will include a presentation by Loudoun Hunt West’s huntsman Martyn Blackmore and his wife, Sue.
"Virginia, especially western Loudoun, has a reputation for fox hunting," Davis said. "So we thought it would be a good addition."
While the Blackmores will be giving a presentation and lecture on fox hunting, they will also give a hunting demonstration, complete with their own hounds.
"The fox hunting lecture will also be a discussion of land conservation," Siegert said. "Because it’s a sport that you can’t do without the land to do it on."
TO HELP THE women relax during the physically demanding day, Natural Body Spa of Ashburn will be on hand to provide on-spot massages at some point during the day. There will also be drawings for different prizes, including a $250 all-day spa treatment.
"In the past these things have been organized by men," Davis said with a laugh. "Now that women are deciding these things, I think it is going to be a really wonderful day for women."