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Four Vista Women R.I.S.E and Shine

four women next to a flagWhat could bring a group together better and faster than a learning experience, storytelling and gathering around a bonfire? Four employees, Aimee Martin, Jill Karolewski, Allison Westergard and Anne Beihoffer, participated in the Reach, Inspire, Support, and Empower (R.I.S.E) retreat, a Vista and Federal sponsored bowhunting education event in Winterset, IA in June to do just that.

The retreat’s purpose is to teach the skills of bowhunting, give opportunity for personal growth and build confidence to carry into everyday life. The event is hosted by Raised at Full Draw, a non-profit with a mission to connect like-minded women through the outdoors, empower individual strength, independence and determination while remaining compassionate, loyal and adventurous.

Anne Beihoffer, Senior IT Ecommerce Project Manager, who organized the event, says the retreat attracted women of all ages from across the U.S. with varying levels of hunting/archery experience and comfort in the outdoors.

“In 48 hours, we learned or developed bowhunting skills – from the basics of holding and shooting a bow to proper shot placement for hunting. We shot at different distances, and used a 3D archery course, too,” Anne said. “This event was an empowering experience for women to learn and improve archery and hunting skills.  The focus on hunting ethics really emphasized the respect and value that hunters have for the animals they pursue.”

Participants could also complete the requirements for their bowhunter education certification during the course.

Women also learned outdoor survival skills, tree stand safety, how to shoot from elevations and ground blinds. They identified hunting locations and worked on tracking after a shot, navigating to a hunting location in the dark, and had the opportunity to try shooting clay targets.

“RISE was an awesome way to push myself out of my comfort zone, in a safe and supportive environment. I learned a ton, developed new skills, expanded my comfort zone and had a really fun time,” said Jill Karolewski.

two women with archery targetMost would agree it was an amazing weekend of connecting, sharing, learning, and growing as the women supported each other in conquering new skills. And, as always, there was time in the evenings to enjoy stories and forge relationships around a bonfire before retreating to tents for the night.

“Being relatively new to bow hunting, the camp delivered on the fundamentals of shooting, hunting, and all the tools and gear that goes with the territory.  It also provided a great opportunity to spend some time off the computer with other great women in the company,” said Aimee Martin.

The event was helpful in a different way for Allison Westergard, Manager of Continuous Improvement, who went to the event to resurrect an old hobby.

“I rifle hunt, but hadn’t held a bow since high school. By the end of the weekend, I felt confident enough in the knowledge and skills I was taught by the team at R.I.S.E. that I can’t wait to get out in the woods this fall with a whole new perspective and approach to the hunt,” Allison said.

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