Saturday, March 7, 2015

Women in archery. Not just for gatherers anymore...

                               ... women are on the hunt.

Kirstie Pike is the founder of Prois Hunting, a growing technical gear company that started in 2007 when she went to buy hunting clothing one season and only found capri pants and baby doll tees offered in the women’s section.  Built on Kirstie’s cheeky and positive sense of humor and a dedication to filling the gap, Prois has continued to have an impact in the hunting community by helping people understand the seriousness and passion for hunting that women also have. Customers are adamant fans of what Kirstie and her staff have built. “Prois defines me as a hunter. It defines my passion and pride in my sport,”  and it makes Kirstie proud to hear that her ideas have sparked with so many women alike. 
“When we started Prois, there was literally no performance female hunting gear on the market. You could buy men’s gear or cotton lifestyle clothing. It was odd to me when all other sports had gear for women - skiing, mountain biking, running, etc. We just kept tinkering and doors kept opening.”
The hunting arena is still somewhat of a bastion of good-ol-boy attitudes, but Prois continues to work on breaking that barrier by offering specially designed gear for western big game hunters. The terrain is rough, the weather can be tougher and that demands gear that may save your life when you get caught in it. The men that value the virtues of a silent, breathable and warm merino wool jacket or pants automatically understand what Kirstie has set out to do in the women’s space and support it.  But according to her, there are still unfortunately men out there that will never consider spending a higher price point on camo for their wives or girlfriends and she just assumes that these guys either don’t like their wives or just don’t want to hunt with them!
When asked her ultimate goal for Prois, she laughs and says, “World domination. Too much? I want to provide the highest quality shooting gear available for women. Period. And want Prois to be necessary and relevant for the long haul.”
Camo everything has become popular culture in the past few years and you can find everything from wedding dresses to sheets and pillows, to camo bikinis and yoga pants. The women drawn to Prois find a high end look and feel with technical features that rival the best men’s hunting gear. No bikinis, though. Just the gear that keeps you warm and dry. The catalog and site are noticeably bimbo-absent. No pink here either.
For Kirstie, the greatest surprise out of creating Prois has been finding the sisterhood of ladies out there with similar minds and passions.  “I never would have predicted that eight years ago these ladies would become my very best friends and supporters. I love connecting with women and bringing them together. There is much more to Prois than selling clothing (although that is what pays my bills), it is about being a voice, a sounding board and an avenue for women to come together and enjoy their love for hunting and shooting!”
PS. Kirstie Pike is one fantastic lady. I highly recommend saying hello if you make it to a trade show!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Chasing Cabin Fever

Heck yes! Anyone have a husky that needs some exercise??
You know it's been a tough winter when you decide to go out and work up a full bodied sweat without a hat and it's only 15 degrees. And it feels reasonable. There's actually blue sky and sun today and even though we've had 45 inches of the white stuff so far, the fields out here are so wind scoured that the drifts are hard packed like beach sand ripples and it's down to bare grass in some places. I've been able to ski and snowshoe more this winter than ever.

Crystal Gavin, someone that I have grown to admire more and more, posted a pic last week of her outdoor target and a snow blown path to go pull arrows. Time to work on outdoor distances already. A club shooter here, Mike Chadsey, just did something similar and is shooting in an unheated breezeway to get some distance practice in.  Insanity. It's 6 degrees. He's just opened the doors for his own archery biz and is going full steam ahead for the Gator Cup. At some point, you have just say f-u winter, I've got stuff to do.

It's been a good indoor season. Have had to miss some of my usual shoots, but am shooting better than I have in a while and building back some confidence. Just need to build back some muscle. Gym motivation is tough to come by for me this time of year and I just need to get back on the horse. One of the guys in our club put together this great training video for recurve archers. I need to just go do it and ixnay on the whinging.

This morning's ski was great, not only for the sun which is surprisingly warm, but the woodpeckers and chickadees making it sound like the world was still alive out there. How they've managed to not freeze and find food is amazing. The six or so deer beds deep in the snow are full of new snow and fox tracks behind the windbreak. My ski got rid of my grumpy mood from not moving enough this week and got some cold oxygen to my brain and got me thinking about the past week or so.

Tonight is dress up and go out to a new place with friends. Not sure this place will let a yak in, it's on the swanky side. I miss my cute shoes. But it's March, so maybe by the end of it...

photo credit: Skijoring 13 via photopin (license)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Lancaster Classic Recap

This is just the 12:30 pm Sat line. Did I mention this is a BIG shoot?
So it's been a long time since we packed up our gear and headed for a tournament with more than 20 people. At 850+ archers, this qualified as a BIG shoot. Held at their new venue, the Lancaster Host Resort, it went very smoothly, and offered seminars, buses to the mothership and a free BBQ dinner to all who shot that weekend. Lancaster makes a concerted effort to be sure everyone has a good time, and it shows. If you have the the means, I highly recommend it. They did separate the recurve men from the women this year, and there were some elite women there who set the bar really, darn high and then flew off to shoot Nimes this weekend.

One of the best things about this shoot are the number of people that you will run into from home, so there are plenty of people to hang out with before, during and after.  We ran into friends from out-of-state and made some new ones as well. Steve and Mike from PTTC, and Sue was there in her stripes to ref on our end. PJ Charette from Ohio was on the bale next to me (and got himself into the shoot offs - GO PJ!). PJ comes up to shoot at our home club with his FIL, who was also shooting. Ricky Smith, who shoots with the pros, was there with his new girlfriend, Amanda. Heidi Miller from CT was on my card, a fantastic person to shoot with and we discovered that we run in the same professional circles (marketing and publishing in the optics & photonics industry) and know some of the same people. Two very small circles colliding first thing in the morning. Later that day, I got a great intro to the under construction archery mecca that is going up in Rochester, NY from Jason Minnamon. Watch for more on this in Summer 2015.
PJ is second from the left, and Heidi is the blond ponytail.

Didn't make the cut for Sunday, but was happy overall with how I did. Only one stupid mistake, and fought some giant butterflies for the first few ends, but once I settled down, did reasonably well. It's always interesting how nerves will put my elbow back in "compound" mode and the challenge becomes letting go of the tension and breathing properly. Breathing = no shaking. You could see it in quite a few of the recurve shooters in the beginning (or if the camera was right behind them), including me.

See, cameras. And that darn elbow. (photo from Lancaster Archery)
Cameras. Yeah, they were everywhere. My single and only complaint was that the video coverage on my end of the line was almost nonexistent. I would have been happy to see what my form was doing in order to better understand how to correct for nerves the next time. All of the "good" shooters were somehow in the center and so that is where the cameras were predominately. One of the best things about this event is the live scoring on tablets right at the bales. Not only did it eliminate math errors (mine) but you knew exactly where you stood at any given time during the weekend.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Meet Vero Navarro - Illustrator

Art should make you feel something. As in Buddist practice, all emotion is not good or bad. Same for art.

For me, Vero Navarro's work does that partially because it's done in beautiful colored pencil, in part from the subject matter, struggle, reaching for something else, worry.  At the same time, she makes whimsical pieces of bird boys playing guitars and dancing that would be suited for children's bedtime tales.

Her official bio goes like this:

"Vero Navarro is a freelance illustrator from La Mancha, Spain, currently living in Madrid. In 2006 she earned her degree in Fine Arts from the University of San Carlos in Valencia.

Her body of work encompasses delicate and realistic renderings of human figure, fauna, flora, architecture and everything in between. In her works she tries to tell us stories about human condition using characters in constant struggle with their inner selves.

She is an enthusiast of coloured pencils in one hand and digital techniques in the other. But is not odd tho find both techniques mixed together in her pieces."

One of the few things I took from my art school years was that the more personal you make your art, the more universal it becomes.  I wanted The Everyday Struggle the second I saw it, and recently was able to get a copy for myself. And am more than a little excited about it to arrive, honestly.

Check out her Etsy Shop for prints - Here
Good art does not mean outrageously priced. Go check out her full portfolio here.
The Facebook here.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Why you should stop using pink to sell to women

Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup don't even wear pink.
Ok, maybe just a hint.
Not that we hate the color per se, it’s just … for girls. Girls, as in being not grown up enough to make their own choices and are ok with one option. 
When you limit choice, you limit the chances that someone will pick your product. Don’t know about you, but when I am offered one choice which I don’t like, I go find something better, someplace else. It may cost a bit more, but hey, I’m worth it.
Are some women ok with pink bows, arrows, cases, and armguards? Sure, but quite a few don’t want to look like My Pretty Pony. Would you sell more merchandise if you had something else to offer besides pink or pink camo? Highly likely.  Archery gear is a personal statement.  Go to any decent sized tournament and see what women are shooting and what color. We like our gear to represent who we are and I haven’t been ten years old with unicorn stickers on my notebook for a while now.  Pink does not state with confidence, “I am about to kick your ass at this.” 
Look at the numbers. The ATA turns out a wealth of survey information and makes it available to you for free.  In the last survey, they learned,“18.9 million participants in archery and one-third of all archery participants in 2012 were women, and that 4 million women were involved exclusively in archery.”  That's a lot of archers that want an adult color.  Also of note, that target archery appeals to women more broadly than bowhunting. Not a stretch really.
Bowhunting shows are meant for guys to watch and buy sponsored products. The busty blonde sidekicks shoot pink bows, because that is what they are handed to use. The huntress, Eva Shockey, is in her 20’s and young and adorable enough to wear as much pink as she wants. She’s also a class-act and darn good shot.
Where we live there is a healthy target archery community and I see women getting started in the sport together with their kids. None of them would be caught dead with pink equipment.  Ms. K is a glamour editor and writing a book on 1940’s Hollywood fashion. She shoots barebow. Not a pink flake for miles. Ms P shoots recurve with her daughter who is 11. Both are serious about their sport and neither have a stitch of pink on their gear.  Red?  Black? You betcha.  While my sister can glam it up and mix with the high rollas, she has a matte black bow to go with her camo pants. Because black is slimming and never goes out of style.

Is there a place for it? Sure.  What women want  - it’s simple, really.  Equipment that FITS, performs to standard and allows us to shoot at our best, whether in the field or on the range. In a color that represents who we are.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Flip Side

Stream bed in the Rockies
You know sometimes when you look back over 10 years or so and you are surprised with how things were at the time, how things have changed and what's endured. This isn't really about archery so much as where I've been and last week, was near that spot again.  I was out in Boulder for work stuff last week and was able to carve out some time to drive up to the Park and get in some Nature, with a capital N.  The light is different there - not all chock full of smog and fog like back East. The shadows are deeper and more serious.

A few years ago, I got all-up serious about painting and took a couple of week long classes from John Fawcett in Clark, CO, spitting distance from Wyoming. John and his lovely wife Elizabeth live up on a ranch with a view to kill by and to paint by as well. His Western art career is well documented and he teaches as well as he paints.

The couple of plein air classes I've been lucky to take there were in September where it frosts overnight and you're sunburnt by 3. Those were fun days, as you spent most of the day soaking in how to get the shadow behind and in front of a front knee proper, the correct nappy ear attitude and taking turns as horse handler, which is basically getting slobbered on while keeping the pony du jour occupied and reasonably still. You had to work fast and loose and keep your watercolors wet in the dry air. After some lecture and critique, we'd head out for a good ranch steak and beer. Yeah, it was a rough trip all around.

Me measuring hip ratio while John pony wrangles this sleepy horse.
Yeahh, it's an old pic of me.
...and just look at that gorgeous hip study there!

I guess I am surprised mostly by how much I've let this go and how much I do miss it some days. I'm also surprised by how much I like the stuff I created. One of these days, maybe they'll get some light and frames on them.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Early Riser Gets the ... Target

Ya'll remember the Kite Eating Tree from the Peanuts?

This morning's field practice was along those lines, with Paul and Matt scraping back dripping wet trees and brush to locate my errant arrows. Some were found, some not so much. Wreaked a couple as well, but at least they are fixable. Hoping that nobody gets poison ivy because of it. The flying piranhas held off until the end, and it was a gorgeous day to be out with my compound, the hubs and our friends that we don't see much of in the summertime.  And there may have been ribs and brats later. Is that a way to spend a summer Sunday morning or what??

It's probably time to buy a copy of the On Target software to calibrate my sight and just be done already. My lines were off and I was shooting arrows for my other bow. Meh. Ended up sticking to the baby lane to get some shooting in and not lose any more expensive gear. I realize this is part and parcel of the game, but it always gets under my skin when it happens.

Always fascinated with how easy it is for me to swap back to Cricket and shoot without the mind games and angst (aside from the dumb arrows I lost). It's really just a relaxing walk in the woods.