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Week 3 of the RV Diaries: Uncertainty of Battle By Lanny Barnes

It’s my last night in the RV. In all I’ve spent 20 days and nights inside this little house on wheels. And every night, except this one sleep has come at no cost. But tonight there’s something on my mind. I’m only one race away from accomplishing something that no one else in United States Biathlon has ever accomplished. Something I’ve never even come close to accomplishing. It is something however that I’ve dreamed of for years and have rehearsed in my head many times before. I’m so mentally practiced that this should come easy to me. It should be easy to accomplish. But it isn’t. And it won’t be.

Yesterday I “cleaned” my 3rd race in a row. “Cleaning” is a termed used to describe a race in which the athlete hits all their targets, either 10 for 10 or 20 for 20, shooting 100%. Cleaning 2 races in a row is not entirely uncommon. Cleaning 3 races in a row is quite a feat, but doing it in 4 is something entirely different. For every race you clean the pressure mounts and those little targets you are shooting at, only seem to get smaller and harder to hit. Adrenaline kicks in and your muscles start to shake.

I know what awaits me out on the course today. I have a target on my back the size of an American flag. Yesterday I won the race. It was a German Cup race and I was lucky enough to beat all of the Germans (as well as a Canadian, some Brits and a Norwegian). But not without a price. Today they’ll be gunning for me. It’s a mass start and this race is a head to head brawl on the tracks. There’s no solo trip around the tracks, or solitary bout at the range. You are fighting head –to-head the whole race. Clawing your way up the hills, fighting for position, and shooting as fast and as accurately as possible to gain an advantage in the range.

So, why does sleep allude me? Is it the target on my back? Is it the fear and apprehension of going into battle? Or the unknown opportunity to achieve a dream? I ponder this for a second, and then realize it’s none of these. I’m excited. That’s it and that’s all. I wish the race were right now. Walk up to the start, set your skis down, yell “battle”, and begin. So, with excitement running through my veins I close my eyes and think “bring it on Deutschland” and fall asleep.

Several hours later, I’m lined up at the start line. I’m surrounded by the black, red and gold of the German suits. Everyone is breathing hard and fidgeting as we await the gun that will signal the start of the race. Thoughts are running through my head like a freight train. My eyes feeling like I’m reading a book at warp speed while I try to interpret all the thoughts in my head. Then suddenly a “bang”. I lean on my poles and my skis rocket forward. Any thoughts that were in my head are now gone. I look a head of me and see the track and a sea of girls. Poles and skis are everywhere. Girls are jockeying for position. I get in behind a couple of Germans and try to focus on relaxing.

The hills in Ruhpolding are steep and the descents are unnerving. Already after the first loop my legs are screaming. We climb to the top of a steep hill and descend down around a corner that does a 180 to the left. I hear a sound and look back to see a girl go skidding on her stomach down off the side of the trail. I look back ahead again as the range comes into view. We ski around a corner and you can hear the roar of the crowd as we approach the range. I close my eyes and think “just breath”, which kind of makes me laugh as I’m struggling for breath and my heart is pounding over180 beats per minute. I take one big deep breath and open my eyes. It’s almost as if a switch went off in my brain. There are no thoughts of the crowd. No thoughts of the competitors around me, or the pressure of reaching my goal. I’m in autopilot now.

I ski into the range and up to a shooting point. I’m quickly down on my knees and slinging my gun off my back. Then I lay down, take a deep breath and squeeze off the trigger. I take five shots and five targets fall. I’m then back on my feet and skiing out of the range. I look around and am accompanied by 3 other German’s. They’ve “cleaned” the shooting stage too. And I smile to myself as I know this is going to be a race until the end.

We jockey for position and fight on the hills. Up and down we go, changing leads, and fighting back and forth. We race into the range and come to a screeching halt on the shooting points. The crowd is now completely animated as it’s turning into a battle. Once again I shoot five shots, and five more targets fall. Once again I’m accompanied by the same 3 Germans, each hitting all of their targets as well.

We battle again on the skis. I drop in behind the other girls as I know the real battle is just about to start, and that’s the standing shooting. The standing stages are the last two bouts in the range and are by far the hardest. You’re getting more tired as you’ve already raced close to 5 miles and the standing position is more difficult than prone. We once again ski into the range and up to the shooting point. I drop my poles on the mat and sling my gun off my back. I take aim. The first 4 shots go down easy and then, right before the last shot a thought sneaks into my head. This thought is my enemy. It’s worse than any competitor, and makes a race more difficult than any hill we have to climb. It’s uncertainty and doubt. It’s the thing that keeps most people from accomplishing what they are capable of achieving. All it took was a split second and my focus is shattered. I hear the crowd, the sound of the shots from the other girls around me. I can feel the ache of my legs and the pounding of my heart in my chest.

For just a split second panic creeps in. I feel my legs tense and as I look down my barrel the target is dancing around everywhere. Hitting this target seems like trying to ­­. It’s almost impossible. Almost.

Then I close my eyes. Take a deep breath. A sense of calm washes over me as I think, “It’s just one target. I’ve done this thousands of times in training. I’m ready for this.” It’s why we train. It’s why we study for that test or prepare so much for that presentation. So that when the time comes we are ready. And can do it without hesitation. So, with that my eyes open and the shot is there. I squeeze the trigger and before the target even falls my gun is on my back and I’m skiing out of the range. I know it was a hit.

The last stage took victim two of the German girls. One is out ahead of me and the other two are skiing off their penalty loops from missed targets. I race hard over the loop and back into the range for the final standing stage. Out of nowhere a German girl races up beside me. She was able to ski off her penalty loop and was stronger over the loop on her skis and caught me just before the range. We come into the range together and the crowd is going wild. I look down to the first shooting point, where the German girl in first place is shooting. She has 3 more targets to go as we ski into the points next to her. Our presence must have broken her concentration because she missed her last two shots, opening the door for myself and the other German. We both quickly get into position.

Now the pressure is on. Not only am I shooting for a goal of cleaning 4 races, but for the win as well. This time however, my focus doesn’t waver and the five targets fall without hesitation. The girl I’m shooting with also hits her five and now it becomes a ski race. We both battle hard over the last loop, but in the end the girl was too fast for me and I finished second.

Now it’s race over and I’m heading back to the States. I accomplished my goal of cleaning 4 races in a row and am leaving Europe after avoiding the penalty loop (an extra 150 meter loop skied by athletes for each target missed). I learned a lot during this trip especially that your faith in your dreams cannot waiver, especially in the uncertainty of a battle. And with that I turn the RV north to drive back to Munich and prepare for the next battle, whenever that will come.

Prois Pro-Staffer, Lanny Barnes, Has Personal Best with 4 Perfect Shooting Races in a Row to Place 1st and 2nd in the Last Two German Cups!

Pouring rain hampered the races and left the athletes drenched over the weekend where athletes from Germany, Norway, Canada, Great Britain, and the USA gathered to race. After a week of perfect conditions at next year’s Biathlon World Championship venue in Ruhpolding, Germany, stormy weather rolled and made conditions difficult for the athletes as they competed in a Sprint and Mass Start race over the weekend.

Having shot clean (hitting all her targets) in the previous two German Cup races in Oberhof, Germany on January 29th and 30th to place 1st and 4th, Lanny cleaned again in both races to finish 1st in the Sprint and 2nd Mass Start race in Ruhpolding. This was also a personal best for Lanny having cleaned four races in a row with two of them having 4 shooting stages per race.

The first race on 2/12 was a 7.5km Sprint/Relay with a prone and standing shooting between each 2.5km loop. The venue, which will hold next year’s Biathlon World Championships lost a lot of snow when a steady down pour started the night before the first race and didn’t end until well into the next day. Lanny shot clean in both stages and skied well enough to grab the top spot and a first place in that race.

The second race on 2/13 was a 10km Mass Start with 2 prone and 2 standing shootings between each 2km loop. The rain started up again early that morning and continued until just before the start of the race leaving the racers soaked as they battled head to head from the start of the race. With Lanny hitting all 20 of her 20 targets she held off all but one of the competitors, Karolin Horchler of Germany.

Tracy unfortunately caught a cold a few days before the races and wasn’t able to compete over the weekend. The twins head back to the states now after three successful weeks of racing in Europe where they will spend a few weeks preparing and training for US Nationals which will be held in Grand Rapids, MN in the middle of March.

The Barnes Twins in Germany… Week 2 of the RV Racing Tour…Chaos, Carnage and Excitement!


The highlight of week two of the RV racing tour was the 39th Annual World Loppet King Ludwig Race near Garmisch Partenkirchen in Germany. The race was named for the famous German King Ludwig the 2nd, who at the age of 40 was declared insane and shortly there after, met an untimely and suspicious death in a lake with his psychiatrist. Near the time of his death he was in the process of building his 4th castle, the Neuschwanstein. For 17 years a huge fortress was being erected on a hilltop that would have the most modern capabilities of the time, including running water from a spring in the mountain. At the time of this death in 1886 the construction of the castle was halted. Ludwig was heavily in debt and building the castle would only put more strain on the creditors whom which he owed millions of Marks. Only 34 of the 126 rooms were completed and the castle was missing another tower, which was to be constructed later. The castle is said to be the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella Castle. This castle was to be the centerpiece of the race. We were to climb over the hills and through the woods to King Ludwig’s castle and then back. All in all, the course would be 21 kilometers. Due to warm temperatures and a lack of snow, the course was changed and we would only ski up and down the sides of the valleys and would not circumnavigate the castle.

This race was a World Loppet race and is said to be one of the biggest cross-country races in all of Germany. In total, close to 3,000 people lined up for the start of the race on Saturday. Some would be doing the marathon or the 50K while others (us) would be doing the “sprint”, or the 21K. This would be Lanny’s longest ski race she’s ever competed in and would also be our first race with this many people. The start would be in waves, with the top competitors from other World Loppet races from the year, and the top competitors from this race last year in the first wave. A “wave” is a group or cluster of people that start all at the same time. You are packed in, shoulder to shoulder. The start is as long as several football fields and as wide as a landing strip. The waves of people are separated by several yards and a banner. Each wave is 20 or so people deep with people shoulder to shoulder, about 100-150 people wide. There’s no room to move, let alone ski. As Lanny and I are standing at the start, we are thinking to ourselves, “how is this going to work?” We are standing at the start of the race, surrounded by thousands of people who are all eager to “win” the big race and suddenly the gun goes off… no warning. The mass of people then lurches forward, then comes to a stop. Nobody can move, it take a few seconds for things to start up again and then…. It’s utter chaos. Everyone is trying to win the first 100 meters. With no room to move, people are skiing all over each other’s skis and stepping on their poles. I see a gap and I dive into it. I see another gap and I sprint for that. Meanwhile all around me people are going down. It’s total carnage! Left and right people are falling and then people are plowing right through, and over the people who have fallen. There’s screaming and some cursing in almost every European language. Broken ski poles lay strewn all over the course. I feel like Kevin Costner in “Dances with Wolves” when he goes out on that buffalo hunt with his new friends. He’s riding his horse and is totally over whelmed by what is going on around him. Down goes a buffalo on his right and another on this left. He’s wide eyed and riding hard. Suddenly he get’s his groove and starts the hunt. That’s me now. I yell to Lanny to follow me and I attack! I dive for an open piece of snow, just barely making it ahead of some guy’s skis. I double pole (just use my arms to push myself) up a narrow opening between two very aggressive German men. I then narrowly miss a collision with a Russian as I surged into another opening. Every once in a while I’d look back to see if Lanny was there and my last two glances confirmed a fear… I’d lost her. She was momentarily swallowed up by the sea of carnage and took a fall. She later said that she was so nervous about getting left behind that no sooner than when her butt hit the ground she was back on her feet fighting through the crowds to reconnect to me. And thus so went the race… see a hole make a sprint for it. We spent the entire 21K sprinting to pass people. It took all of the 21K to pass the earlier waves of people. It was one of the fastest 21K I’ve ever skied. There was action the whole time. Even as we neared the finish there were people still falling and poles still being snapped in two by aggressive skiers.

When all was said and done we finished 3rd and 4th. Not bad considering we started near the back and fought a huge fight to get to the front. After the race we couldn’t believe how exciting the race was. We loved the carnage and the aggressiveness. It was entertaining for us to pass people and get nasty looks from the guys who thought they shouldn’t be passed by two little girls in American flag suits.

After everything was winding down we took a drive over to the castle that we didn’t get a chance to race around. It was, like most castles, and amazing piece of work. We did a tour and were able to see most of the finished rooms in the castle. The paintings on the inside where breathtaking and must have been excruciatingly difficult to do. The year after King Ludwig’s death the castle became a museum and still to this day was never and will never be finished.

Unlike the Neuschwanstein castle our little RV trip does have an end. One more week of racing and we’ll turn in the RV and fly home. Our last week takes us to Ruhpolding, Germany in southern Bavaria. We will once again compete against the Germans in a German Cup race. We are both looking to again finish strong against the German’s with clean shooting, and fast skiing. Check back for an update on the final week of the RV racing tour!

Prois Pro-Saffer Julie Golob Snags Spot as Top Woman Shooter on Smith & Wesson 2010 Team!

Photo Courtesy of Yamil Sued

Julie Golob top women shooter for 2010 on Team Smith & Wesson
February 7, 2011 by Women’s Outdoor News

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (February 7, 2011) – Smith & Wesson Corp., announced that Team Smith & Wesson members captured a record-setting 142 title wins during the 2010 competitive shooting season, surpassing the previous year’s record by 51 victories. In total, the 26-team members brought home 60 state/sectional, 36 regional/area, 24 national and 22 world titles. With an average of over 11 victories per month, the shooting team along with their wide array of Smith & Wesson firearms kept the competition at bay throughout the course of the season.

Leading the charge for Team Smith & Wesson were the company’s Champion shooters, Jerry Miculek, Julie Golob and Doug Koenig. Known throughout the world for their competitive spirit and shooting prowess, the Champions earned victories in nine different firearm divisions. Especially, but not limited to the world of revolvers, Jerry Miculek once again proved that he is the top competitor to beat, capturing wins in ICORE (International Confederation of Revolver Enthusiasts), Steel Challenge, USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association), IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association), STC (Sportsman’s Team Challenge) and Multi-Gun matches. His 2010 credentials include an eighteenth consecutive IRC World Championship, a ninth IDPA Indoor National Championship and a fourth USPA Multi-Gun Championship.

Following closely behind Miculek was Team Smith & Wesson Captain Julie Golob. During the 2010 season, Golob earned her tenth USPSA Single Stack title, her second IRC Championship title along with victories in Steel Challenge Production, Steel Challenge Limited and the IDPA National Championships. Not to be outdone was fellow teammate and professional shooter Doug Koenig. Koenig started out the 2010 season by winning his twelfth NRA Bianchi Cup and followed that win with his seventeenth Masters International Championship. Koenig also earned a fourth World Action Pistol Championship title, crushing his own World Record with a new one of 1920 with 189x’s.

With team wins posted in IDPA, USPSA, ICORE, Masters, Steel Challenge, NRA Action, STC, Multi-Gun and Industry Masters competitions, Team Smith & Wesson proved that regardless of the division or firearm used they were up to the challenge. Along with the 142 titles, Team Smith & Wesson also showed that it has a dedicated and talented group of junior shooters ready to take the next step. Comprised of Rachael Crow, Trevor Koenig, Janae Sarabia, Molly Smith, Lena Miculek, Shea Shelf and Coddie Lindsay, the Smith & Wesson Junior Team showed the maturity of veterans and skills to match as they represented both Smith & Wesson and its products at the highest level.

“The skill level and the desire to win was evident in this team from the very first match to the last round fired,” said James Debney, President of Smith & Wesson’s Firearm Division. “We are also proud of the performance of our Smith & Wesson products which we believe helped play an important role in the team’s success.”

Debney continued, “Not only do we have an incredible team lead by our Smith & Wesson Champions, but we also take great pride in supporting the future of the shooting sports with our very talented and inspiring group of junior shooters. On behalf of everyone at Smith & Wesson, we extend a hearty congratulations to all of the shooters who competed under our company banner.”

Team Smith & Wesson Members for 2010 included:

Annette Aysen

Elliot Aysen

Gordon Carrell

John Bagakis

Craig Buckland

Dan Burwell

Rachael Crow

Julie Golob

Doug Koenig

Trevor Koenig

Ernest Langdon

Josh Lentz

Coddie Lindsay

Jerry Miculek

Kay Miculek

Lena Miculek

Curt Nichols

BJ Norris

Dave Olhasso

Tony Phan

Janae Sarabia

Mike Seeklander

Shea Shelf

Molly Smith

Phil Strader

Laura Torres-Reyes

About Smith & Wesson

Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ: SWHC) is a U.S.-based, global provider of products and services for safety, security, protection and sport. The company designs and constructs facility perimeter security solutions for military and commercial applications, and delivers a broad portfolio of firearms and related training to the military, law enforcement and sports markets. SWHC companies include Smith & Wesson Corp., the globally recognized manufacturer of quality firearms; Universal Safety Response, a full-service perimeter security integrator, barrier manufacturer and installer; and Thompson/Center Arms Company, Inc., a premier designer and manufacturer of premium hunting firearms. SWHC facilities are located in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Tennessee. For more information on Smith & Wesson and its companies, call (800) 331-0852 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (800) 331-0852 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or log on to www.smith-wesson.com; www.usrgrab.com; or www.tcarms.com.

© 2011, Women’s Outdoor News. All rights reserved. Please provide a link to The Women’s Outdoor News if you republish this post. www.womensoutdoornews.com

Blame it on the Boys

Kendra Petska
November 2010

For as long as I can remember I’ve had the “bug”. That bug that caused me to shoot out of bed at 4:00 a.m. opening morning of deer season, strap on my oversized camo, and run upstairs to get dad up and going. I remember driving around with Dad or Grandpa scouting the river bottoms and canyons during rifle season, eyes peeled, sitting on my knees to see out the pickup window, anticipating the infamous “There he is!” as the pickup jerked to a stop.

Luckily I am no longer hunting in oversized camo. My Prois gear is not only quiet during a stalk, but it is comfortable and fits in a way as to not be a hindrance. So many times when hunting gear doesn’t fit you or your hunting situation, you become focused on how uncomfortable you feel or that the clothing is getting in the way, rather than your pursuit. Thankfully, Prois makes a line of women’s hunting apparel that is tailored to fit a woman’s body and her pursuit of various game.

I would like to say that I blame my hunting obsession on the boys in my life. Dad and I would always go out that second weekend of November when the bucks were chasing. And if he had his shot at a big one and I wasn’t quite old enough to tag along, Grandpa would come and pick me up and we would watch from a distance.

I have hunted since I was old enough to buy a license. I’ve always chased whitetails because they were pretty much all I could come across on our land in Central Nebraska. I had seen a few mule deer here and there but they were usually smaller, younger bucks. Not until I began dating Sam was I exposed to the “Muley Magic”.

Sam always talked about how big mule deer get and that they are “just different”. Not until about a year into the relationship did I really comprehend or even grasp the concept of how big they actually do get and what kind of obsession it was that consumed him. The more mule deer filled magazines I was shown and the hours of Muley Crazy DVDs I sat through, the more I began to maybe form my own little “Muley Bug”.

After passing and filming a few nice grower bucks in 2009 with Sam on his family’s horse ranch, The Pitzer Ranch, we decided that we were going to hit the scouting hard in 2010. Since the ranch sits in the Sandhills of North Central Nebraska near the small town of Ericson, it has some great country for mule deer. Throughout the year we watched, filmed and collected pictures of a number of different deer. We had it out for a couple of nice bucks from the year before that didn’t split on a fork or that were just a little young yet. But before Nebraska’s seasoned opened we had to head out to Eastern Colorado for a week.

In October of 2010, I tagged along on Sam’s eastern Colorado mule deer hunt with Wes Atkinson of Atkinson Expeditions. We saw a number of great shooter bucks while we were out there. Not to mention stalking a 187 inch typical to within three yards on day one! After a week solid with a couple of mule deer nuts, I had a new appreciation for the obsession that I had witnessed for months prior.

As opening weekend of rifle season approached in Nebraska, I mentioned to Sam that I thought I wanted to shoot a muley buck this year since I had never taken a one before. Now you have to understand that Sam is super protective of his mule deer. So I reminded him of a deal that we made while we were putting in fence around a food plot on a rather warm August day. He told me if I helped put in this fence that just maybe I would be able to take a buck that was drawn into the area with the plot. So on the second day of rifle season I reminded him of his deal as we glassed through a group of mule deer and I settled my glass on a dark, heavy rack across the river in the late afternoon hours.

We decided to get a closer look at the buck and stalked in to 240 yards along the river bank. After a few minutes I said to Sam “it’s time”. I had actually remained rather calm watching the buck graze for a few minutes, right up until this moment. As I flipped off the safety my heart started going. I settled my gun on the pack and squeezed off a shot. The buck spooked a few yards to the north and continued to graze. I had shot just under him! I kicked in another shell, settled in and squeezed the trigger again. This time the buck humped up, stumbled and went down. I couldn’t see very well in my scope because of the glare of the setting sun, so when Sam told me he was down I was ecstatic! We high fived and re-hashed the stalk for a few minutes and started walking out to put our hands on the rack. As we approached I began to see that he was heavier than I expected, had great fronts, and overall was just an impressive Central Nebraska muley!

After taking this deer, I really appreciate what having some self control can do for your deer herd. We know that we passed this deer last year and it awesome to see what one can grow into if you give them the time to get older.

It is a sweet moment in any woman’s life to prove to society that she can not only hang with the guys, but she can also excel. I take pride in being a woman in a largely male dominated sport, but I must give credit where credit is due. And that is to the boys in my life. They helped grow that little “bug” into my own obsession.

Prois Hunting Apparel Caption Contest – February 2011

Jump in and take part in the fun! Prois Hunting Apparel for Women is sponsoring a monthly photo caption contest which will be posted here, on the Prois Community Blog. This month’s photo was chosen in the spirit of Valentine’s Day! The story behind this photo is actually quite touching. Ana Julia Torres, who runs the Villa Lorena animal shelter in Cali, fed and nursed Jupiter the African lion back to health years ago after it was found abused and emaciated in a traveling circus.
Jupiter often affectionately greets Ana with kisses and hugs.

Why should you participate? Well, for starters it’s fun! BUT- the winner that is chosen by the Prois staff will become the proud new owner of a of our brand new BULLSEYE Longsleeve shirt in Deep Heather. What are you waiting for!? Give us YOUR caption!

Barnes Twins Take Germany By Storm!

Identical Twins Tracey and Lanny Barnes are Prois Pro-Staff members and Olympic biathletes. They are incredible athletes, huntresses, and they compete around the world in biathlon. During their latest competition the Barnes Twins finished on the podium in first race at the German Cup in Oberhof, Germany. Lanny had perfect shooting for the weekend to place 1st & 4th in German Cup, Tracy was not far behind with a 3rd and 7th!

1/30- Oberhof, Germany- Tracy and Lanny Barnes finished a tough weekend of racing in Oberhof, Germany home of biggest Biathlon World Cup stadium in Europe. They completed an individual race on Saturday and a sprint race on Sunday against some of the top athletes from Germany. Lanny walked away with a win in the individual race with perfect shooting. She hit 20 of 20 targets and recorded the best and fastest shooting of the day for men and women. Tracy followed up in 3rd place hitting 18 of 20 targets.

Saturday and Sunday were rare days in Oberhof with the sun shining and blue bird skies. Normal conditions in Oberhof bring heavy wind and fog, but on these two rare days, the athletes enjoyed almost perfect conditions for biathlon. In Saturday’s race, Lanny managed to be the fastest shot in the race in all 4 stages, hitting the all 20 for 20 shots and being the only one in both the men’s and women’s field to do so. Tracy missed one shot in each of her prone stages shooting 18 for 20 and having the 3rd fastest shooting time. They both skied well, and Lanny ended up winning the race, followed by Nicole Wotzel of Germany and Tracy rounded out the podium in third.

The following day was a shorter 7.5 kilometer sprint race. Having beat the German’s in their own race the day before both Lanny and Tracy felt that that target on their back was growing and that the German’s would be gunning for them. Lanny skied a bit better that the previous day and Tracy suffered a bit from the lack of sleep from the night before the race and felt exhausted. Lanny again shot clean, hitting all 10 of her targets, shooting clean for the weekend! With her clean shooting Lanny ended up 4th only seconds out of 3rd place. Tracy missed just one shot in each stage to grab on to seven place, just seconds behind Brigitte Roksund of Norway. Check out their website for more updates and pictures and results for our races next week- www.twinbiathletes.com, also check out our blog the Women’s Outdoor Media Association Website- http://thewoma.com/category/the-road-to-russia/.

Vivian’s First Elk

The Elk Herd Reduction Process December 2010

It was a very cold winter day, in December….in North Dakota. There was over 14 inches of snow on the ground, the temperature was minus 13 degrees and with the wind chill, it was almost unbearable, until…….. I made the shot that dropped the huge cow elk – one shot, 120 yards – my first elk! At that point the temperature, the snow and the wind chill really didn’t matter!! The next day was colder and the wind was much stronger – I was lucky to drop my second cow elk with one nice shot at 240 yards.

Let me take you back a few months. After 5 years of planning a decision was made by the National Park Service to reduce the elk herd in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. The elk population had increased and sharpshooters would be brought in to reduce the elk herd in a humane and effective manner with the meat being donated to food banks, etc., there would be no waste. The sharpshooters would have to qualify in order to participate. We spent the morning in a training session and in the afternoon we had to qualify at the rifle range. I was shooting my .270 Winchester and missed qualifying by one inch. Each volunteer had to shoot 3 out 5 in an 8 inch target at 200 yards shooting in the prone position. Hard to believe what a difference one inch can make.

If someone did not qualify the first time, they had the option to use another rifle and shoot up to five times, without any practice shots, and make 3 out of the 5 in the 8 inch target at the 200 yard range. Our son handed me his .300 Winchester magnum and said, “Here, shoot three in the target.” – he just handed me a rifle that possesses a “whallop” of a kick (and leaves a pretty black & blue area) and this was a rifle that I had never shot before……. and, he expected me to qualify? Well, I did just that, I assumed the prone position, shot 3 times – all in the bull’s eye – and I qualified!! I was not the only one that did not qualify the first time, however, I was lucky to qualify the second time, the other volunteer wasn’t as lucky – he did not qualify and he was sent home. Did I mention that I was the only female out of 17 other volunteers for this time period? In fact, during the 20 week period of volunteer sharpshooters, there were only two women participating, and I was one of them.

Over 30,000 applicants from 46 states applied for this volunteer task. I was one of the lucky ones, in fact, my family was lucky also. We submitted our application and were drawn to participate the week of December 20 – 24. Four of us were on the application – my husband, our two sons and I. What a great experience to be a part of and what a great family event.

We purchased the necessary supplies, considering the nasty winter weather; warm clothing was second on the list after lead-free ammunition, which was required for this herd reduction. I have been hunting for more than 35 years and have never been happy with the hunting clothes that I have had to wear. The men’s clothing just didn’t fit – if you know what I mean – and I was always wearing the heavy winter jackets, etc. that really didn’t keep me warm – they were just heavy.

So….., I decided to give the Prois Pro-Edition Pullover a try. I was a little apprehensive because it didn’t seem to be “heavy” enough, or, at least it wasn’t what I was used to wearing. The pullover was tapered enough to provide a great fit and the drop pocket across my shoulder blades was perfect for my heat activated hand warmers! The 3 ply fabric took care of any doubts that I may have had. This pullover kept me warm by eliminating the bulk and provided the comfortable fit that I needed. I wore fewer layers of clothing and kept warm and dry. IT was awesome and I highly recommend this pullover. In extreme temperatures and adverse weather, wearing the proper clothing allows you to be in the field longer and contributes to the success of the hunt. I can attest to that.

I am an avid deer and antelope hunter and also enjoy hunting turkey. After bagging this elk I am looking forward to bigger hunting trips. When my husband rolls his eyes in reply to my request, all I can say is, “it’s your fault, and you got me into this.” We have enjoyed many family outings while hunting and these opportunities have provided priceless memories and we created many hunting albums!

I am looking forward to getting several new pieces of Prois hunting apparel for my next hunt. However, I may have to order extras, my daughter-in-laws enjoy hunting also and they certainly admired my pullover!
Getting back to my opening paragraph – the weather was cold; it was a family event, we were doing our part as volunteers for the national park and I shot my first elk……life is not measured by the breathes that you take – but by the moments that take your breath away. This…., was one of those moments….what else can I say.

Proudly Submitted,
Vivian
Vivian Bernotas