BOW aims for confident women
Anchor, use your back, paint your face, follow through.
A dozen women at the Bryant Pond 4H Camp listened recently as archery instructor Ron Fournier described the techniques and terminology for shooting an arrow at a target.
The women archers learned proper stance and form for shot placement. Fournier showed them how to grip the bow lightly, and use their back muscles while drawing the string back.
“Picture holding an apple between your shoulder blades,” he said.
He demonstrated how to anchor the string each time in the same spot, right at the corner of their 'smile.'
After the archers released the string, they focused on keeping their releasing fingers in the same spot on their cheek - or “painting your face.” The steady follow-through prevented dropping the bow down or plucking the string, which can cause deflection of the arrow.
The women were among 40 who came to the University of Maine’s 4H Camp Feb. 22-24 for the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Winter Skills Weekend.
Besides archery, the women could also choose classes in winter survival, snowshoeing, ice fishing, fly tying, cooking wild game, firearms use, and primitive skills.
The BOW program is sponsored by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. BOW provides introductory learning experiences in a variety of outdoor skills including hunting, fishing and general outdoor recreation.
“This was the first winter skills weekend BOW program offered in the state of Maine,” said Fournier, the Assistant Program Director at the UMaine 4H Center in Bryant Pond. “The participants included many women from Maine, and some from as far away as Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, and Nova Scotia. The women had a chance to try a new outdoors activity, bond with other women, and maybe step out of their comfort zone a bit."
The weekend’s snowfall added a unique twist to the programming and was welcomed by mostparticipants, he said. On Saturday, there was an evening program on “Becoming a Maine Guide” and a short presentation on the UMaine 4H Camp and Learning Center’s year-round activities.
Following the program, said Fournier, “several brave souls donned headlamps and headed back out into the snowy darkness for more adventure.
“About a dozen enjoyed learning how to ice fish for cusk (a nighttime feeder that inhabits Lake Christopher similar to a codfish) while several went for a snowshoe hike along the trails. One small group of women constructed their own snow survival shelter called a quince, and slept the night in it.”
The instructors, many of whom were Bryant Pond 4H staff members, also included Denise Murchison of Silverton Sporting Ranch, Robin Folette, a member of the Beyond BOW program, and Emily MacCabe of IF&W.
The now-nationwide BOW program began more than 20 years ago in Wisconsin, according to the Maine BOW website. It was created as the result of a study by Professor Christine Thomas. She determined that women prefer to learn outdoor skills in a non-competitive atmosphere along with other like-minded women.
According to the IF&W website, BOW means “ becoming more competent, more confident and more aware. Through this program we hope to not only provide the opportunity to learn about the outdoors but to also provide a venue for women to learn more about themselves. Participation in these workshops has provided countless women with life -changing experiences.”