Safety and Training

Women Afield — Awaken the Wild Woman Within

Becoming an Outdoor Woman with help from a local expert

Not every girl was lucky enough to grow up in the woods trailing behind her father picking up outdoor skills along the way. And many were not fortunate enough to be exposed to shooting, fishing or hunting as a kid.

Becoming an Outdoor Woman
Ladies young and old can learn new skills such as hunting and make new friends at BOW events.

For the lucky ones, like me, stuff like this was common and helped me develop my wild side.

For ladies who are ready to awaken their wild woman within and would like to experience some out-of-the-ordinary activities, there are programs whose sole purpose is to teach women  skills such as how to fish, shoot a gun, kayak or cook outdoors, to name a few. One such organization is Becoming an Outdoor Woman or BOW as it is known.

BOW is in every state, several Canadian providences and even in New Zealand and Bermuda and BOW camps are perfect for the beginner or novice. Women from all walks of life, professional backgrounds and cultures have experienced traditional outdoor activities thanks to a BOW workshop.

How it Started

BOW was developed in 1991 at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Points campus. The program helps women develop valuable outdoor skills and become more competent and confident. BOW provides a non-threatening environment for women to learn and participate in outdoor activities. This successful outdoor skills program has experienced tremendous success and now annually hosts over 80 events around the United States and abroad each year.

Beginners Welcome

Becoming an Outdoor Woman with help from a local expert
Shotgun sports are always a favorite for first-time BOW attendees.

BOW is a great place to start for women who want to try traditional outdoor activities. Individual state natural resources divisions run most of the workshops,which keeps many of the activities regionally focused with local experts.

Because of this  focus, participants are often able to go out after a BOW workshop and actually experience an activity in their neck of the woods.

For example, in the state of California more than 6,000 women have participated in a BOW workshop over the last two decades. Today, West Coast women can participate in duck or archery hunts or cross-country skiing in their region. While on the other side of the country, in New York, ladies are learning how to cook wild edibles, snorkel and mountain bike among other things.

Although BOW workshops are regionally focused, they strongly encourage women to visit other BOW workshops around the country and abroad to learn new skills.

Why go to a BOW Workshop?

What makes BOW workshops so successful is women get hands-on experience from local experts and learn the skills they need to safely enjoy a particular discipline. In addition, most BOW courses provide the necessary equipment and supplies so they can  participate without buying the gear they need to try out the activity.

Even though BOW events are often crammed full of classes and experiences, the attendees experience a wonderful and relaxing time. Additionally, many of the women who attend a BOW event vow they will return because of the new friends they made and the relaxing atmosphere surrounding the event. Events are often so successful they fill up quickly, proving women across the country want to experience the great outdoors.

Proven Track Record

BOW started with the vision to provide an outlet for women to learn outdoor skills. Few could have predicted the success BOW would have or how many lives it would touch. Today veteran BOW participants continue learning new skills and even experiencing exciting adventures abroad thanks to BOW.

What prompts women from all walks of life to participate in BOW workshops?

  • Perhaps it in the commitment and expertise level of the instructors who donate their valuable time and knowledge to teach outdoor skills.
  • Maybe it is the wide selection of classes offered such as ATV safety, fly-fishing, archery, rifle, shotgun, handgun, trapping, boating, taxidermy, hunting and more.
  • Or maybe it is the camaraderie the women enjoy during the weekend.

Whatever the reasons for attending, thousands of women enjoy attending a BOW event year after year.

Have you, or would you attend a BOW workshop? Tell us in the comment section.


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1 Comment;

  1. This article gives me a little hope that other places support women hunting more than my state of Colorado. I’ve been interested in hunting all of my adult life, but even though I grew up in the rural mountains of Colorado, my dad did not hunt and I have no brothers. How does a girl take up hunting? Is the only way for a girl like me to get into hunting is to be the girlfriend of a hunter? I unfortunately concluded that is true after participating in Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officially sanctioned joke of a program: Women Afield. The message I got from my 3 days in the CPW’s Women Afield program is that: Hunting is An Exclusive Boys’ Club.
    I’m a very accurate shot. I’m an outdoors person. I know where the game are and understand their habits. I’ve expressed my interest in hunting to dozens of friends and acquaintances over the years who are hunters, but guys just are not willing to share this activity with girls unless they get some intimate involvement in exchange. Unfortunately, I’m not interested in intimate involvement with your typical hunter – you know the type…the ones that are white and were born in America, but barely read or speak English, and maybe have a high school diploma at best – I’m not compatible with that type of guy. I’m not a lesbian, either.
    I thought my salvation had come when I applied for and was accepted into Colorado Parks and Wildlife Women Afield Program, which sells itself as an opportunity for a woman to learn hunting among other women and providing a comprehensive hunting experience. I carved out a lot of time preparing for this program. I accumulated a lot of necessary costs and committed to the 8 hour drive to their designated hunting area, the Purgatoire Ranch in southeastern Colorado. It turned out, I was sent out to “hunt” with an employed guide of the Purgatoire Ranch, who brought his small child along on our “hunt”. For 3 days, we drove around and the activity was entertaining this child, not hunting. The guide accompanied me to 12 different mule deer and whitetail deer, eligible for my tag, that were perfect less-than 100-yard shots, but the guide would not let me take any of them, citing that those deer were reserved for “paying hunters”, who also happen to be all men. The real reason he would not let me take an animal is because it was impossible to deal with his kid at the same time. Would he have dared to bring his child along with a guy? The truth is Colorado’s Women Afield Program = Typical Women’s Activities: Childcare + Viewing the Cute Deer that are for the Real Hunters Who are Men, not Women. I left there feeling sick at what a waste of my time and money Colorado Parks and Wildlife has been. I sure wish CPW would have warned me that is was actually going to be childcare and looking at deer, not hunting BEFORE I spent all that money and time.
    Ladies: try another state besides Colorado for hunting opportunities that respect women’s real interest in hunting.

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