Texas BOW Program Opportunities Available

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From pink fishing vests to camo print press-on fingernail decals, mainstream outdoor culture is opening up to the ladies. Most gear now comes with a line especially tailored for women, but if your backpack is full and your knowledge base is empty, chances are you may never unroll that new sleeping bag under the stars.

Texas Parks and Wildlife recognizes that many women wanting to explore the outdoors may not have the skills and experience to feel confident in doing so. To address this, the department created the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program in 1993. The program, now in its 18th year, has seen over 15,000 participants and offers workshops for complete beginners to moderate experts in the areas of archery, fishing and boating, shooting and hunting, camping, kayaking, bird’s nest box building and other activities.

The goal of the BOW program is to afford women the opportunity to learn outdoor skills in a comfortable, nonthreatening and supportive atmosphere. Workshops are held over weekends throughout the state. Participants may take multiple classes at each workshop and are encouraged to try their hand at new skills.

"My first BOW was such a success," wrote Graciela Pratt through the BOW Facebook page.

"The quality of instruction and all the workshops were of the very highest quality. I felt I learned a vast amount of information about shooting firearms which was my goal for the weekend. I really enjoyed the meeting other ladies from across the state. I also enjoyed the 'owl calling'. It was great fun and I was glad I was able to attend," she wrote.

To request more information and a registration packet for the fall BOW event at Camp Allen in Navasota Sept. 16-18, visit the BOW workshop information request page.

Women who cannot attend a BOW workshop or who attended and want to continue practicing their new skills may join a Texas Outdoors-Woman Network in their area. The Network was created by former BOW participants for women in their communities. TOWN groups hold monthly meetings and meet ups for women looking for camaraderie in their outdoor pursuits.

One TOWN group out of Rockport sponsors its own event geared toward teaching outdoor basics called Women in the Wild. The event was created by TPWD game warden Brandi Reeder in 2009 with many of the same intentions as the BOW workshops. Through Women in the Wild, participants learn fly-fishing, kayaking, outdoor photography, game processing, skeet shooting and more. The classes are taught by game wardens and other experts in their fields. For example, the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society was on hand to give lessons in outdoor cooking, as well as fishing guides to demonstrate the perfect cast.

"As a mother, I know you would never let your kids get away without trying something at least once, and we need to apply that to ourselves," said Reeder.

"I tell ladies to just get yourself out there, ignore everything and give it a try. The program offers you a chance not to worry about embarrassment or failure; it's just an opportunity to try this stuff on and who knows, you might just come out liking something new," she said.

Reeder's Women in the Wild program has seen 158 women in its three years and plans to expand its programs for its next event. The program is tentatively set for April of next year.

For more information on BOW, TOWN, or Women in the Wild events, visit the TPWD site for BOW at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/learning/bow/.