These GRITS Girls Are Southern Alright – Girls R eally Into Shooting
Story and Photographs by Dana farrell
Shotguns come in a variety of types – single shot, pump action, autoloading, side by side and over and under. There is a diehard group of shotgun shooters and collectors who consider a side by side the only style truly worth their time, and nowhere in the United States can you find more of these male and female side-by-side aficionados in one place than the Spring Southern Side by Side Championship and Exhibition, held each year at the Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School outside the central North Carolina town of Sanford.
Marilyn Mcllvain calling for a bird on the clay course.
Bob and Judy Holiday in their period attire. A lot of folks have a great time going “all in” during these shoots.
The shooting rules are casual, with the only stipulation being that all guns shot on the sporting-clays course must have horizontally aligned barrels. This is more of an exhibition, so although some shooters take their shooting very seriously, posting a good score is secondary for many, with camaraderie and a chance to rub elbows with fellow side-by-side enthusiasts being the true main attraction. It’s called a championship, but that’s just for bragging rights – there’s no purse, there’s no betting, and there are so many trophy categories that it’s almost like a kid’s soccer club.
More Women Taking Up the Sport
Judy Holiday, Ella Lanier and Elizabeth Lanier.
One of the more notable changes at the Spring Southern over recent years has been the influx of lady shooters. They’re not just attendees either, but actual competitors. Groups such as Girls Really Into Shooting have led the way for more women to get involved.
Bill Kempffer, owner of the Deep River shooting school, says he’s seen a steady uptick in the number of women shooters over the years. Kempffer serves on the National Shooting Sports Foundation Board of Governors and has been in the shooting sports business since the 1950s – certainly long enough to notice any trends in the industry. “I’ve seen big changes – particularly in the last 20 years, and Deep River has been around for 27 years,” he says. “In the beginning you’d occasionally have a wife or a daughter come out to shoot, but around 15 years ago we had an increase in single mothers who would bring their sons to the range to be around men and learn masculine things, because that’s what their fathers and brothers did. In the last five to 10 years more women have stepped out and started doing it themselves.”
ENTER Elizabeth Lanier, G.R.I.T.S. Founder
Elizabeth Lanier, Founder of G.R.I.T.S. Girls Really Into Shooting.
Elizabeth Lanier didn’t shoot much as a child growing up in Texas, but you wouldn’t know it by the way she handles her shotgun on the clays course. On her call of “pull,” two orange targets are launched and instantly turned to dust by her 12-gauge side by side. Liz’s childhood experience with guns was limited to 4th of July celebrations when the men in her family would set up a few soda bottles for the youngsters to shoot with .22 rimfires. Several years back she bought her then-husband a set of five shooting lessons, tagging along with him for the first outing. She discovered she liked shooting so much that she used the remaining four lessons on herself. “I thought it was great therapy; it was something I could go out and do that was just about me, the shotgun and the target. I used to drive my kids up to the five-stand and leave the car running, air conditioning on and a movie playing. They were all in car seats and I’d take an hour lesson, go back to the car and they’d all be sound asleep. It was wonderful fun,” she said.
Kate and Sue Ross.
A happy shooter with Mr. Bugsy Graves
As things progressed, Lanier figured she needed to learn more so she could help the group become more proficient. She got her National Sporting Clays Association level I certification, and then her level II. The only woman in a class of nine, she was so full of nervous excitement that she literally cried when she was awarded her certification. One thing led to another, and people started coming to her for instruction, but she says money has never been the object – it’s the love of the sport that drives her. Her sights were then squarely set on her level III certification, which she considered the ultimate goal – one that would place her in a select group of women so few you can count them on one hand. Lanier calls the day she obtained her level III certification one of her proudest moments. After weathering her divorce, instructing morphed into a career that not only offsets the cost of her hobbies, but ultimately ended up supporting her and her kids.
Mimi Wingfield ready for the rabbit target.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from, how much money you have, what you do for a living – we’re all together to have fun, to enjoy being outside and shooting,” says Lanier. “People would see us out shooting and think, ‘Oh, my, those ladies are having a good time!’”
Judy Hughes – Lady Champion in the main event.
With five chapters and two more currently in the works, GRITS is spreading the word that women and shotguns are a good combination You’ll know GRITS girls at clay competitions. They’re the ladies smiling and slapping high-fives while shooting the course. It’s the love of the sport that keeps them and their side-by-side shotguns coming back for more. ASJ
Posted in Shotgun Tagged with: Bugsy Graves, Deep River Sporting Clays, Elizabeth Lanier, Ella Lanier, girls, GRITS, Judy Holiday, Judy Hughes, Marilyn Mcllvain, Mimi Wingfield, Shooting, Shotgun, Side by side, Women and guns
I really hope you enjoy the variety in our Women’s Annual June 2015 issue. We are featuring extraordinary women from all facets of the shooting world, and I’m sorry that I don’t have a thousand-page magazine to highlight more amazing stories.
Hailing from multiple shooting arenas to include top huntresses, SWAT chicks, mounted-shooting champions, girls in practical shooting competitions and sporting-clay trailblazers, these ladies are seriously bad to the bone!
Among our feature stories, we had an exclusive opportunity to interview and see inside the home and workshops of Frank and Lally House, creators of fine contemporary long rifles and Native American-inspired porcupine-quill embroidered gun straps and slings. No matter where in the gun industry you plant your passion, the work of these two Kentucky artists is not lost on anyone. Our team is proud to bring this story and images of the Houses’ amazing works to you.
Our cover feature should inspire some questions. Why in the world is that guy holding a gun to a microphone?!? My thoughts exactly, but our interview with John Johnston of Ballistic Radio on his sadistic tendencies towards guns and sharing the results with his listeners is quite revealing.
Looking ahead to our summer issues, next month is our patriotic and beginner’s guide, followed by the long-range shooting and working dogs issue in August.
For July, I am reaching out to you, our readers, to ask, “What does freedom mean to you?”
We plan on compiling some of the best phrases and comments from around the nation and will share them with you in that star-spangled issue. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Please share them with me at
Posted in Editor's Blog Tagged with: Danielle Breteau, Editors note, Firearms, Frank House, Gun Magazine, John Johnston, Kenda Lenseigne, Lally House, Nisha Henderson, Women and guns, Womens Annual
Story and photographs by Scott Haugen
She’s been offered hosting jobs on major TV networks; approached by country music and NASCAR celebrities to cook and launch private-label food lines; and looked to for her expertise in co-authoring books. But she has turned them all down.
Cookbook author, food columnist, TV host and lecturer Tiffany Haugen.
“The timing just wasn’t right,” shared Tiffany Haugen when asked about these offers. “My priority isn’t my career it’s my boys, and I don’t want to miss a minute of their growing up. I’m gone enough as it is, and there’s a limit,” she added when asked about some of the challenges she faces.
Tiffany is a
big promoter of
eating what you kill
“I love hunting and fishing with the family and enjoy speaking around the country, but if we can’t be together as a family, then it’s not as rewarding.”
For Tiffany, hunting and fishing are about family and putting meat in the freezer. “Our family lives on wild game and fish,” she says. “It’s what we eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not only are these meals nutritious, but gathering the meat, butchering and preparing it as a family offers quality time that’s hard to get any other way.”
In 2014, Tiffany’s butchering and cooking seminars drew record crowds at the NRA’s annual convention. She delivers over 50 seminars a year around the country and is one of the nation’s leading outdoor cooking columnist.
Tiffany grew up in a family of hunters and anglers, and her grandfather, now 102 years old, still eats wild game. She isn’t about seeking the spotlight. “I do not care if people know who I am; I just want them to get the most of their hunting and fishing experiences and have the confidence to butcher, fillet and cook their meals. The outdoor industry has changed a lot in the last 15 years; it’s gone so much toward bling and in-your-face entertainment that people are losing sight of what hunting and fishing are all about. It’s about education and should not be considered a contest or entertainment; it’s promoting the game, fish and other opportunities that we’re so blessed to have in the US.”
Tiffany is a big promoter of eating what you kill. She’s been filmed for various hunting shows over the years – most currently on The Sporting Chef and Cook With Cabela’s, where she serves as a guest-host. She is all about making it simple and attainable.
“Cooking fish and game isn’t like cooking store-bought meat, but that doesn’t mean it should be a big challenge,” Tiffany continues. “When (I was first) married, we moved to Alaska’s Arctic where we lived a subsistence lifestyle. Being immersed in this way of life is where I really learned to master cooking wild game. Now that our family makes a living in the outdoors, we eat game and fish year-round. Our boys love it and usually question the quality of meat when we go out
and trying new things is easy
Having traveled and hunted in over 30 countries and throughout much of the United States, Tiffany says this is where she gets much of her inspiration. “Travel and food go hand-in-hand,” she smiles. “AlI I want to do is share it with people, show them how easy it is and that they can do it!”
Sharing the hunt and putting wild game in the freezer is what it’s all about for the noted speaker, outdoor cook and author, pictured here with her two sons, Braxton (left) and Kazden, and a mule deer she arrowed in Washington.
“Africa was great, not only because the whole family hunted together and ate what we killed, but because we exposed our sons to several cultures. Seeing them gather 50 pounds of toys just to share with African children in villages and orphanages was amazing. These are life-changing occurrences they might never have experienced had it not been for hunting.”
“There was a time Braxton sat for 43 hours in a blind over the course of five days, in temperatures dipping into the teens, before he arrowed a big mule deer; he was 12 years old,” she reflects. “If that’s not a testimony to what hunting teaches youth, I don’t know what is.”
“Kazden, at 9, overcame hunting in a cold, driving rain to take his first Columbia blacktail deer,” Tiffany adds. “He and his dad gutted and skinned that buck, we butchered it as a family and canned most if it, per Kazden’s request. Last spring he shot an axis deer in Texas right at dusk. He and his dad stayed up butchering and wrapping that deer until 2:00 a.m., just in time to grab a bite to eat and go hog hunting at dawn; that’s dedication!”
Tiffany’s biggest cooking tip is “don’t be afraid to experiment or make mistakes. That gets old for everyone. Changing recipes and trying new things is easy, and that’s what I’ve devoted the last 15 years of my life to doing, turning people on to intuitive cooking methods.”
The Haugen family on a successful bear hunt.
Prior to entering her career in the outdoor industry, Tiffany was a school teacher for 15 years. Between juggling her writing, national speaking schedule (she delivers over 50 seminars a year), filming cooking segments, running the family business and home-schooling both of her boys, she doesn’t want any other responsibilities. “I’m in a happy place right now. I don’t regret any of the decisions I’ve made or opportunities I’ve passed up, because life is too short.”
As a hunter, author, speaker and TV host, myself, I couldn’t be more proud of my wife and what she represents. She’s held her ground when challenged by anti-hunters, eloquently defended our family when confronted with verbal assaults on how she could let her kids shoot guns since the age of two, and stuck to her morals when asked to be part of contrived outdoor reality TV. I have utmost respect and love for this woman. After all, we’re celebrating 25 years of marriage next month, and each year keeps getting better! ASJ
Posted in Hunting Tagged with: Butcher, Columnist, Cooking Game, Family, Firearms, Hunting, Scott Haugen, Tiffany Haugen, women, Women and guns
Story by Troy Taysom – Photographs courtesy of Truesight Media
Browning, in conjunction with The Sportsman Channel, is launching a new reality television show called The Most Wanted List. The show will star Browning personality Kristy Lee Cook and her two best friends from Oregon: Jessie Jo Stanfill and Jess Hull. The idea is a family-friendly, adventure reality show with these three young ladies who will be traveling the country and checking off wild adventures from their bucket lists. I had the pleasure of catching up with Kristy while she was on a horse ranch in Texas.
If the name Kristy Lee Cook sounds familiar to you, then you might be a country music fan. You might also be a fan of American Idol or barrel racing; maybe even big game hunting. You see, Kristy has made a name for herself in all of these areas. She jumped into the nation’s spotlight while competing on the immensely popular TV show during its seventh season.
Jess Hull, Kristy cook and Jesse Jo Stanfill on the set of The most Wanted List
She worked hard and made it into the top 10 (coming in seventh place out of hundreds of thousands of contestants), went on tour, launched an album, and most of us might assume she’d have it made in the shade, but it’s still an uphill climb once Idol is over.
“Airborne Ranger Infantry” is a tribute song to her father and all the other Vietnam-era veterans who came home to protests, insults and hatred.
I asked Kristy if the show helped or hurt her career. “Well, both,” Kristy said. “I gained thousands of fans and a lot of national exposure, but on the other hand, radio stations and other music industry insiders see Idol contestants as having broken into the music business the ‘easy’ way and are reluctant to play their music. I had a record contract at the age of 17, several years before I was on Idol so I did it the hard way, but I still had to fight to have my music listened to.”
The sting of the loss can still be heard in Kristy’s voice, but she didn’t let radio stations or doubters stop her ambition and drive. She turned the loss into motivation and ultimately victory. In 2008 Kristy released an album titled Why Wait. The album debuted at No. 8 on the US Top Country albums chart and No. 49 on the Billboard 200, with sales just under 10,000 in the first week. Since the album, Kristy has become heavily involved in the song-writing process, making sure that she has and maintains creative control over her music.
The move has proved to be genius. She released singles such as “Airborne Ranger Infantry” and “Lookin’ For A Cowgirl,” which have both been hugely successful, receiving attention from publications like Rolling Stone and websites Bustle.com and Countrymusicrocks.com. The reviews are all positive and it seems, according to her fans, Kristy is writing and performing music that actually speaks to them.
Kristy, Jesse Jo and Jess after a successful hunt.
“Airborne Ranger Infantry” is a tribute song to her father and all the other Vietnam-era veterans who came home to protests, insults and hatred. Kristy felt these men and women deserved better, and with her song, tries to gives them the respect they deserve. The lyrics are based on poems her father wrote about his and his friends’ experiences in the war. They are powerful in their simplicity and will ring home with anyone who has ever been at war, not just Vietnam. The song is blunt, direct, truthful and representative of what happened some 50 years ago in Southeast Asia.
“Looking For A Cowgirl” is simply about being a country girl. Kristy has matured and is now very comfortable with who she is and this song is a reflection of exactly how she feels about herself and her life. “I am who I am,” said Kristy when asked about the song and its meaning.
Kristy Cook on the barrel racing circuit.
As if music weren’t enough, Kristy is an active barrel racer and winning on the circuit. Shasta, her mare, recently passed away, leaving a large void in Kristy’s heart, but Kristy has continued on, choosing to remember Shasta by racing her colt, Tazer.According to her, Tazer looks “just like his momma.” She is also racing a young stallion named Venom that Kristy says, “shows big promise and has been in the money for most of his races.”
Kristy doesn’t seem to live by the same 24-hour clock the rest of us do, because not only does she find time to sing and race, she also loves to hunt. To her every animal is a trophy, whether it’s a New Zealand stag or a Midwest whitetail.
This love of hunting and her desire for everything adventurous led her to pitch the idea for her new show. The execs at Browning and The Sportman Channel agreed it was a great idea. This idea was so popular that it even attracted a host of other companies and organizations, such as Caldwell, Winchester, Bog Pod, Tenzing, Anderson Bean Boots, Nose Jammer and the Mule Deer Foundation. The Most Wanted List premieres this July and Kristy intends for the show to be different from other reality TV programs. According to her, many reality TV shows are risqué and take the approach that the more scantily dressed the participants are, the better. “That’s not what this show is about; this is a show the entire family can watch,” Kristy said. “We want parents to be able to watch the show with their kids and trust that we won’t be cussing or inappropriately dressed.”
“We want parents to be able to watch the show with their kids and trust that we won’t be cussing or inappropriately dressed.”
This show will feature Kristy hunting with her trusty Browning Stalker rifles chambered in .300 WSM and .270 WSW, as well as her Browning Maxus 12-gauge shotgun. She may even have her new Browning 1911-.380 hidden somewhere on her person but she’s not telling, for the record.
Kristy, Jessie Jo and Jess will be hunting mountain lions and alligators, just to name a few, but she realizes that many of her fans and TV audiences aren’t hunters. “This show isn’t just about hunting. We are going to be flying in a Navy fighter jet, skydiving and deep sea fishing. There will be something for everyone,” Kristy assured me.
The show will also be more than just the adventures. A large part
will be about the comedic relationship between these three long-time friends.
As if that were not enough, Kristy also is heavily involved in humanitarian efforts and is a board member for the Dutton Foundation, which includes Heavenly Hope Ministries. The foundation works in the African nations of Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia helping to form and run orphanages for children. The foundation primarily keeps children safe from child sex trafficking. John Dutton, co-founder and president, is also a former NFL and AFL (Arena Football League) quarterback who works with these children to pursue athletic dreams instead of being trapped in the hopelessness that is so prevalent in Africa.
Kristy Lee Cook is a lot of things: Country music star, accomplished barrel racer, avid hunter, TV star and quiet humanitarian. But if I had to boil it down and place one label on her, it would simply be, country girl. Kristy is what is right about America. She is living the American dream on her terms and doing a fantastic job of it. ASJ
Posted in Miscellaneous Tagged with: Browning, Hunting, Kristy Cook, The Most Wanted List, Troy Taysom, Truesightmedia, Women and guns