Chara (Brubaker) Thomas was initially skeptical when her husband offered to send her on a nine-day wilderness excursion that would train her to shoot firearms.

Though Thomas had grown up around brothers and uncles who handled guns and hunted, she herself had little to no experience with firearms.

But, the more she thought about it, the more she came to believe that knowing how to shoot wouldn’t be a bad skill to have, so she took her husband up on his offer. Now, after completing the National Rifle Association’s Women’s Wilderness Escape, Sept. 23 through Oct. 1 in New Mexico, she has absolutely no regrets.

“It was a very positive experience,” Thomas said. “I learned about firearms, learned that you can be safe with them and still enjoy them. It’s not all about hunting and killing animals.”

Thomas, 39, has always been a lover of the outdoors. When she and her husband, Rick, first met, they went hiking on their first date.

Thomas has never hunted wild game, and she remarked that after attending the conference, she’s not sure she’d ever want to.

“There’s so much you can do with shooting,” she said, including competitions and target shoots. Shooting firearms doesn’t necessarily have to involve hunting, she noted.

Thomas heard about the Wilderness Escape through her husband, whose father had signed him up to be a lifetime NRA member. When he received an e-mail from the NRA about the excursion, he approached his wife about it, asking if she’d like to go.

“He offered to send me as a combined birthday/anniversary gift,” she recalled. “Shooting is something Rick has always encouraged me to do. It’s a good skill to have.”

The Women’s Wilderness Escape was held at the NRA’s Whittington Center, a 33,000-acre shooting complex in Raton, N.M.

Source: Gina DelFavero for the Blairsville Dispatch.

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