Latest Blog Posts

Barnes Twins Head to the US Nationals!

Next week Tracy and Lanny will be competing in the US Nationals in Grand Rapids Minnesota from the 16-20th of March. They have a series of three tough races where Tracy will push to defend her National Championship Title from last year!! The races will be a Sprint, Pursuit, and Mass Start, which means they will start with an individual race (Sprint) and jump into the exciting, fast pasted, action packed, head to head races on the weekend (Pursuit and Mass Start). All the best US Athletes will be there along with possibly some Canadians as they battle on one of the hilliest biathlon courses in the US. For all three races they will be climbing directly out of the start and will have very little rest and down hill before they are spit out at the shooting range where Lanny hopes to continue her perfect shooting streak and clean (hit every target) in her 5th, 6th and 7th race in a row. Lanny already made history by cleaning 4 races in a row and is hoping to raise the bar even more and continue that streak. Warmer spring temperatures are expected next week in that area of Northern Minnesota which might bring rain and wet conditions for the athletes. The races start next Thursday with their pre-race training on Wednesday. Check the Twin Biathletes website for updates and pictures www.twinbiathletes.com/.

PROIS WOMAN OF THE WEEK…. Doc Susie Anderson

Susan Anderson was born in 1870 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She graduated from medical school in 1897. She joined her family in Cripple Creek, Colorado and set up a practice, and then moved on to Denver. People were reluctant to accept women as doctors during this time so she moved to Greeley, Colorado and practiced nursing for 6 years. In Greeley her Tuberculosis worsened and the treatment of the day was to move to cold, dry climates.

In December of 1907 Susie and her little dog boarded “Train Number One” of the Northwestern & Pacific Railway at the Moffat Road Station bound for Fraser, Colorado. The train crossed the mountains at 11,660 feet, over the Continental Divide, and was the highest rail line ever built in North America.

Doc Susie settled in a small shack east of the tracks. Prepared to either cure herself or die in this small lumber camp named Fraser.

At first, Susie did not let the people of Fraser know that she was a doctor. This was possibly due to her own health concerns. Finally the town folks found out from visitors that she was a doctor. Her first patient turned out to be a horse (It was not uncommon for M.D.’s to serve as the local vet and dentist too). The owner of the horse was so elated by the recovery that he announced far and wide that there was a lady doctor in town!

Soon people begun to seek Doc Susie for advise on various illnesses and injuries. Her practice soon grew. She understood the importance of cleanliness in doctoring wounds and protecting them from infection. She also understood how proper nutrition could aid in good health and healing. These concepts were not widely known during that time.

Her reputation spread and she was soon treating injuries and illnesses of the men and their families in the remote logging camps. In the harsh winters Doc Susie would wear layers of woolen clothing as well as hip high boots with rubber covers to trek through the mountains at sub-zero temperatures to treat the loggers and their families.

One day, an executive of the Denver and Salt Lake Railroad, William R. Freeman, showed up on her doorstep and told Doc Susie she would have to move as she was living on the D&SL right-of-way. Fortunately a local rancher was selling out and offered her his small sturdy barn. Local lumberjacks and ranches disassembled and moved the barn to another piece of property. (The house still stands in Fraser today.)

Once, Doc Susie escorted a small boy, by rail, to Colorado General Hospital in Denver. She announced to the intern on duty that the child needed an appendectomy. The intern was about ready to throw them out when a doctor intervened. Once examining the boy they found out he truly did need the operation. The hospital doctor turned to the intern and announced, “Meet Doctor Susan Anderson, the finest rural physician in Western Colorado…the best diagnostician west of the divide”.

During construction of the 6 mile long Moffat Tunnel, designed to replace the treacherous Moffat Road line over Rollins Pass, Doc Susie was asked to become the Coroner for Grand County and the first female coroner in the state of Colorado.

They needed a “real” doctor that was able to confront the Tunnel Commission about the accidents and working conditions that faced workers on a daily basis in this dangerous tunnel. It’s estimated that 19 men were killed and hundreds injured during its construction. At times, Susie would have to go into the tunnel to care for the injured and retrieve bodies.

By 1941, Susie was Fraser’s only physician. She would continue her practice until 1956 and died in Denver on April 16, 1960.

On October 9, 1997 Dr. Susan Anderson was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame. This honor goes to women who have made significant contributions to Colorado and who are part of the the ongoing efforts to elevate the status of women.

“Doc Susie: The True Story of a Country Physician in the Colorado Rockies”, is a major source for this information. As well, a large amount of information for this post was culled from ellensplace.net.

PROIS EXTREME HUNTRESS AWARD FINALIST SPOTLIGHT- MEET PAULA RICHMOND!

As the dust settles following the 2010 Prois Extreme Huntress Award, it became very clear to us at Prois that despite the fact the contest is a huge success, there is more to it. True, there can only be one winner, and Angie Tennison is a spectacular lady and a steadfast hunter. That said, there remains nine other absolutely amazing women who also have amazing stories and Prois felt each and every one of these ladies deserves a bit of spotlight! With that…we are introducing and featuring each of these finalists on the Prois blog so all of you can learn a little bit more about each of these ladies, their passion for hunting and their unique stories.

Meet Paula Richmond!

“My incredible hunting journey began shortly before I was married when I started shooting my older sister’s bow into hay bales. Knowing I was going to marry an avid bowhunter, I figured I had better see what it was all about. It was a blast, so I bought my first new bow and shot as much as possible. My first hunt was for wild boar and I learned then how fun and exhilarating bowhunting can be. I purchased a mule deer archery tag for that same year and decided to go for it. Since my husband had to work, I ended up going back to our hometown to hunt the area I knew best. I stayed all week and came across a few bucks, but realized how clueless I was when it came to hunting. Still it was an awesome week, so I kept shooting and anxiously awaited my next hunt.

I was lucky and ended up drawing an archery antelope tag the first year I had applied. A month before the hunt was to start, my husband’s appendix ruptured. On my own, I built blinds over water holes while he recovered. He was well enough to join me the morning of the hunt and saw me take my first big game animal with a bow. That animal was a beautiful Pope & Young pronghorn.

The next year luck struck again and I drew a limited entry archery deer tag. This hunt really solidified my love of hunting. There were deer everywhere and I had two to three stalking opportunities a day. Again, I learned how clueless I was when it came to hunting. I could stalk up on the deer with no problems, but I repeatedly fouled up the end play. I finally ended up with a 3×4 mule deer that I was happy with. Stalking on multiple deer and being so close to them in the wild sealed the deal for me. I became a hunter for life.

Over the next several years I shot four other bucks with my bow, some ducks, a swan, and a whole slew of prairie dogs (some were with my bow). I am a hunter who loves the whole experience of the hunt. Big scoring animals are a bonus, but I do not feel like a failure if I don’t kill the biggest creature on the mountain. I love spending time with family and friends who are equally laid back and just enjoy the moment.

Each year the archery hunt is anticipated from the time the hunt ends until it comes again. For the past three years I’ve been involved in Utah’s dedicated hunter program where you can hunt all three seasons (archery, muzzleloader, and rifle) in exchange for service hours. I have really enjoyed hunting muzzloader and rifle as well. The service hours are fun for me as I am heavily involved in the wildlife conservation group, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife. I easily earn enough hours working on the local fundraiser banquet. I like supporting an organization where I can see the dollars put to work in my back yard.

One of my most memorable hunts was two years ago and was the archery spike elk hunt. My husband was in Alaska hunting grizzly bears and I wasn’t going to miss out just because he was gone! I left the twins with grandma and grandpa and stayed on the mountain by myself. The days were hot and sitting over water was the most effective hunting method. One night I had a bear close enough to camp I could hear him growling at something close by. It made me a little nervous, but I held out and he left. The next morning I shot a spike elk with my bow and watched him expire on the bank of the pond. After four hours of quartering the elk and five trips packing him back to the truck, I was on my way to town. It was such a great feeling to have done the hunt with no help, and to own that success.

Last year my world was rocked when I drew a dall sheep hunt at the Full Curl Society social in Salt Lake City, UT. It was an unreal experience that I will never forget. Being one to appreciate the experiences of hunting, this topped it all. The mountains were rugged and ice covered, I experienced soggy days and sunshine, lazy days glassing and strenuous days of hiking. I went on the trip alone, hunted with a great guide, and gained even more confidence in my hunting abilities and physical stamina. I loved every aspect of the hunt. Later in the year I shot my first four point buck and was thrilled.

One of the hunters I met in Alaska is from Spain and owns a hunting ranch. He graciously invited me and my husband to hunt with him as his guests. We head out the end of June and will get to experience hunting in Spain for roe buck, chamois, and wild boar. I cannot wait for that experience. Each hunt brings a unique experience and adventure with it. I look forward to every year and await what new things I will see and learn. I have many hunting years ahead of me between myself and my four year old twins; I am excited to see what the future holds!”

Prois Woman of the Week- Sacagawea

- By Katherine Browne

Being one eighth Cherokee I have always had a fascination with American Indian traditions and culture. Sacagawea is one of my favorite historical figures and she was an amazing woman. Historically she has come to represent women’s worth and independence and her image was used widely during the women’s suffrage movement in the early 20th century. Though accurate historical information about Sacagawea is hard to come by and much of the information we know about her is mixed with lore, I will share some of the more interesting facts I have learned about her.

The painting above shows Sacajawea guiding Lewis and Clark at Three Forks in what is now Montana, National Archive Photo

Sacagawea was a member of the Shoshone tribe otherwise known as the “Snake People.” She was kidnapped by a members of the Hidatsa tribe when she was around 12. At around 13 married a trapper named Toussaint Charbonneau, and was his second wife. It is believed that Toussaint may have purchased both his wives from the Hidatsa or may have won Sacagawea while gambling. Sacajawea was not an official member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition as we have been lead to believe. Her husband was hired as an interpreter and she was allowed to join the party as an unofficial member because it was believed she would be useful to communicate with other Shoshone along the way. When her husband joined the expedition she was only 16 and pregnant.

Sacagawea, sculpted by Alice Cooper, in Washington Park (Portland, Oregon)

Sacagawea’s son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau was born shortly after they embarked on the expedition. With the expedition she traveled thousands of miles between 1804 and 1806 from North Dakota to the Pacific. Not only did she travel thousands of miles through then very wild and dangerous parts of the United States, she did so with a baby on her back. Furthermore she remained positive and uncomplaining through the direst circumstances which was noted by every man that kept a diary on the expedition. Though her role as a guide may have been exaggerated, she was only recorded as providing direction on a few occasions, her role as an interpreter with on Shoshone was very important. Most importantly her presence with the party also demonstrated the party’s peaceful purpose as women did not accompany war parties of Indians in that area. Her decisive actions, her role as an interpreter, peace keeper, and her knowledge of edible flora proved paramount to the expedition on more than one occasion. Information for this blog was taken from Wikipedia and http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nwa/sacajawea.html. Thank you for reading and stay tuned every Friday for our Próis Woman of the Week!

Sacagawea

Prois Hunting Apparel March Caption Contest

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.

How do you participate? Simply supply a unique caption to go with our posted photo in the comments section listed below.

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!

Próis Woman of the Week- Annie Oakley (1860-1926)

by Katherine Browne

Last weekend during our NRA Women on Target course Kirstie (Prois CEO) and I were inspired to start a Prois Woman of the Week post. The visors we were given during the course had a caricature of Annie Oakley on them and I said, “Look, it’s Annie Oakley.” Kirstie’s daughter Hanna responded “Who’s Annie Oakley?” It’s always disheartening when we find a gap in knowledge that should have been filled somewhere along the way but somehow we missed. Because of this incident we began to think about all the amazing women that have come before us, paving the way for the rights, privileges, and opportunities we have today. Because of the women that came before us there has never been a time where women in the outdoors have had more encouragement and acceptance and things are only getting better. Women like Annie Oakley paved the way for hunting and shooting women today and showed the world that women can badasses. We think it’s worth taking the time to learn more about the amazing women that have shaped history and improved our lives. We will also feature modern women that are continuing to do amazing things and our own personal heroines. Instead of quoting you Annie Oakley’s entire biography I am going to share some of the lesser known and more interesting facts I learned about Annie Oakley during my research.

Kirstie lent me a great book on Annie Oakley by Annie Oakley Of the Wild West by Walter Havinghurst. I have only gotten part way through this book but I have already learned some amazing things about Annie Oakley. Annie Oakley was born Phoebe Ann Mose, and later changed her name to Annie Oakley. Annie came naturally as everyone already called her Annie and she took her surname from a suburb of Cincinnati. Annie’s Oakley was not born in the West; she grew up in Ohio Patterson Township, Darke County, Ohio. Because of her family’s poverty following the death of her father she did not regularly attend school early in life but did receive some schooling later in life. She began shooting and hunting at age 6 to help support her family and quickly developed a reputation as an excellent shot.

I love the story of how Annie Oakley met her husband. Annie’s reputation as a markswoman and huntress grew and she was invited to compete again Frank E Butler in Cincinnati at the age of sixteen. Frank was a traveling marksman and had bet $100 bet per side (roughly equivalent to modern US$2,000) with Cincinnati hotel owner Jack Frost, that Butler, age 31, could beat any local fancy shooter (Wikepadia.com). Annie won the match with Frank by one point and also won a far greater prize, Frank’s heart. “Some time later they were married and she became his assistant in his traveling shooting act. Frank recognized that Annie was far more talented and relinquished the limelight to her, becoming her assistant and personal manager. In 1885 they joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, run by the legendary frontiersman and showman Buffalo Bill Cody.” (http://www.lkwdpl.org/wihohio/oakl-ann.htm).

Annie Oakley became famous for her shooting feats in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. For seventeen years Annie was the show’s star attraction. She performed many amazing tricks including shooting a dime from 90 feet tossed into the air, shooting glass balls with uncanny accuracy, shooting tragets behind her using a mirror, and shooting clay pigeons from the back of a galloping horse. During this time Annie won numerous awards which adorned her chest during performances and entertained audiences around the world. At only 5 feet tall Annie Oakley was dubbed “Little Sure Shot” by Chief Sitting Bull who adopted Annie as his daughter. Annie Oakley was also talented seamstress made all her own costumes. Ever the philanthropist, Annie loved children and participated in numerous events for orphans. Annie Oakley was an amazing woman helped to break barriers for women by excelling in her sport. She also played a key role in promoting America’s gun culture and making it more widely accepted at a time when “(f)rontier violence and it’s technology were in hot debate.” (Havinghurt, xii).

Information for this article was taken from Oakley Of the Wild West by Walter Havinghurst, Wikopedia.org, and http://www.lkwdpl.org/wihohio/oakl-ann.htm. For a complete bibliography and citations please e-mail me at Katherine@proishunting.com. Stay tuned for a new Próis Woman of the Week posted every Friday right here on the Próis Community Blog.

PRÓIS® HUNTING AND FIELD APPAREL LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE-High Performance Women’s Apparel Company Creates Edgy New High Performance Site

Próis Hunting and Field Apparel has quickly become known for its high performance and technologically advanced gear that utilizes only the best materials. In fact, the Próis ‘P’ insignia has been seen on the likes of Sarah Palin and serious female hunters around the globe. And because Próis is committed to providing the female hunting community with only the very best, the company has officially launched a new interactive website that’s as hardcore and advanced as the women hunters who wear it: http://www.Próishunting.com.

The edgy new Próis website is not your average click and purchase hunting apparel site. Its creative elements truly bring the performance clothing to life while its interactive capability encourages fans of the brand to be a part of the Próis inner circle. The ‘community’ page allows fans to read up on the latest Próis news, happenings of the Próis Pro/Field Staff, an opportunity to follow the company on Facebook – and more! Easy to navigate tabs and links help you find exactly what you’re looking for, whether you’re internet savvy or a late adopter to the World Wide Web. Plus, should hunters decide to make a purchase, an online catalog, shopping cart and checkout are just a quick and easy click away to getting geared up for next season.

Certainly, the new Próis website is chock full of essential specs and information. But it is also visually appealing – packed with rich in-use photography that inspires women to get out there and hunt.

“We create all of our gear to maximize efficiency and functionality, while incorporating the most technologically advanced features —and our newly designed website was built with the same elements top of mind,” said Kirstie Pike, the company’s President/CEO. “The new Próis site is a great representation of the company and its values, and we are excited to share the world of Próis with our customers through it.”

Próis was created for women, by women who refuse to settle for downsized men’s gear or upsized children’s gear. Each garment is created with the most technologically advanced fabrics available and a host of advanced features
to provide comfort, silence and durability. Their out-of-the-box thinking has resulted in amazing designs for serious hunters that have taken the industry by storm and raised the bar for women’s outdoor apparel.

For more information about Próis’ innovative line of serious, high- performance huntwear for real women, contact: Próis Hunting and Field Apparel, 28001-B US Highway 50, Gunnison, CO 81230 • (970) 641-3355 • Or visit http://www.Próishunting.com. To check out the latest updates on Próis field and pro staff and company news, visit the Próis blog at http://Próishunting.com/community/index.php. Become a fan on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=172754768618&ref=ts
Follow Próis on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Próishunting.

Editor’s Note: For hi-res images and releases, please visit our online Press Room at www.full-throttlecommunications.com

SPECTACULAR LADIES NIGHT OUT HOSTED BY SPORTSMANS WAREHOUSE IN WASILLA, ALASKA!

February 24, 2011
Kirstie Pike, CEO Prois Hunting & Field Apparel for Women

Want to reach out to your female customers? Try fun, games and wader races…seriously!

According to clothing manager, Anne Marie, “The night was a major success! “. And it isn’t any wonder. Thinking outside the box, the Wasilla Sportsman’s Warehouse planned an event that boasted fun, education and camaraderie. Anne Marie and the crew hosted seminars including archery, air gun shooting, casting and tent set-up. And if that wasn’t enough, they hosted a wader dash in their footwear department, the winner being a proud recipient of a new pair of waders. Raffles were held for a gun and other silent auction items. The event was hosted from 7pm-9pm and was open to only women. “The night was fun and the ladies had a great time!” mentions Anne Marie.

Now, from a corporate perspective, this event was great exposure. The crew dressed a mannequin with Prois gear and had contestants try to guess the retail price of the entire Prois outfit. Over 300 entries were received, and the winner guessed the price within $.97…not a bad bid to win that entire outfit of Prois gear! As well, Prois t-shirts were given away at regular intervals. The return for Prois was terrific- the product line got great exposure and a number of sales were generated from the evening.

Our hats off to Anne Marie and Sportsman’s Warehouse for their tremendous efforts in promoting women’s involvement in the outdoors!

Próis Women on Target

By Katherine Browne

Hanna Pike and Katherine Browne getting on Target

Last weekend, Próis CEO and founder Kirstie Pike, Kirstie’s daughters Hanna and Haydyn Pike, Próis employee Shonda Percival, Shonda’s daughter Shay, her friend Jarren Howard, and I (Katherine Browne) attended an instructional all-women pistol shooting clinic: NRA’s Women on Target at the Gunnison Sportsmen’s Association Gun Club (http://www.gunnisonsportsmens.com/).

Women on Target is a great program sponsored by the NRA and staffed by volunteers, which provides women with the opportunity to learn about firearms, and to gain confidence in newly acquired shooting skills. This program is a great way to learn in a safe, friendly environment in the company of other women. To find a class near you or to learn more about Women on Target, you visit http://www.nrahq.org/women/isc/index.asp. This class specifically dealt with pistols, with which we all had less experience compared to rifles and shotguns.

Próis women definitely had a strong presence at the event, and Próis gear was everywhere! There was a great group of women in attendance and we knew right away that we were going to have a lot of fun. We spent the morning in the classroom being instructed on safe gun handling techniques, types of handguns, proper shooting form, grips, safe storage, some history, and ammunition. I haven’t had much experience with handguns, so I really learned a lot. At school, I was the annoying girl who asked a lot of questions when it wasn’t cool, and this class was no exception. Kirstie and I both were “volentold” to demonstrate proper stance and grip. Kirstie demonstrated with the .500 caliber revolver that we were promised we could shoot another day, and she looked bad to the bone! I would have thought twice and perhaps even three times about messing with her if I had been a bad guy.

Kirstie Pike demonstrating that looks can kill

After lunch the moment we had all be waiting for finally arrived, and we hit the range. We started out firing .22 pistols. Shonda and Kirstie kicked butt right off the bat with the .22s. Many of us brought our own pistols, and I was excited to get some practice with our Ruger Security Six .357 Mag revolver. I had taken this revolver on a few camping trips for protection from bears and lions, but had never shot it at a range before. The .22 was a lot of fun to shoot, and we all had a great time shooting it. After shooting the .22 we had the option to switch to our own pistols or another caliber.

Kirstie and Shonda showing off their .22 targets

I jumped at the opportunity to fire our .357 Mag. I had brought .357 Mag rounds, but the instructors started me out with some .38 Special rounds so I could feel the difference. (This revolver will fire both.) I did well shooting the .38 Special rounds, and I really like the weight and feel of our revolver. The Security Six is a double-action revolver and a joy to shoot. It is an old police revolver and though it has a fair amount of kick, it is a heavy gun so its weight absorbs a lot of the recoil. Kirstie’s daughter Hannah Pike also shot our revolver and really enjoyed it.

After shooting several of the .38 Special rounds, I switched to the .357 Mags and really made some noise. The recoil with the .357 Mag rounds was much greater too. Instructor Randy Barnes later dubbed it my “hand cannon,” and it was by far the loudest gun there. I doubled up on ear protection and reveled in the power of our revolver.

After that we were given the opportunity to continue shooting many different guns. We shot .380s, 9mms, a .40 S&W and a .45 ACP calibers. The 1911 .45 ACP shot big circular holes in the targets compared to the .380’s and .22’s. We also learned about cleaning and maintenance of handguns. The instructors were all very patient and helpful, and we had a great day. We got a bag full of goodies from the NRA including a visor, ear protection, and safety glasses. However, the best thing I took away from this class was confidence and experience with handguns.

Safety was the primary emphasis in this course and we all came away from the course with safe handgun techniques. It was a very supportive and fun environment to learn in, and the volunteers were amazing. I am really excited about becoming a member of the Gunnison Sportsmen’s Association Gun Club and furthering my pistol and firearm skills. Many of us, myself included are planning to take a concealed carry course in the near future also. Furthermore, I am attending a Babes with Bullets camp in Steamboat Springs, CO, May 20-22 to continue my handgun education (http://babeswithbullets.com/).

Kirstie Pike and instructor Tisha Barnes

Once again we would all like to thank the NRA for this incredible program, Gunnison Sportsmen’s Association Gun Club for hosting this event, and all the volunteers, without whom this course would not have been possible.

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.