What makes your heart race? What have you always wanted to try, but never had the guts to jump into? What big adventure calls out to you? Those of us here at Fine Living Lancaster magazine asked ourselves these questions in the months leading up to the release of this issue. First lady and all-around amazing woman, Eleanor Roosevelt, once gave the advice to, “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” We took the famous quote’s guidance to the extreme with our adventure challenge. For some of us, facing our fears meant overcoming a dread of great heights. For others, it was the anxiety provoked by holding weapons of various sorts for the first time. Two members of the FLL team even decided to face the supernatural. And, of course, we documented it all here for you, our faithful readers, to enjoy. So, settle in and get ready to read about some of our biggest adventures yet.
I have always been fascinated by archery (even before the huge popularity of The Hunger Games , though that certainly fueled the fire), so I was anxious to begin my first lesson at the Lancaster Archery Academy. Upon my arrival, I was met by my ever-patient, very friendly teacher for the day, Heather Pfeil. After running through a short safety explanation, it was off to the range!We started with the targets just
We started with the targets just a few meters away, wielding our bows and arrows for the first time and, frankly, feeling super rad doing it. Who knows how I looked, and honestly, who cares? The minute I held that thing I felt like a real badass, and all thoughts besides hitting that bulls-eye sort of flew out the window. I bet it would be a great activity for stress relief.
Slowly, we moved the target further away from us throughout the one-hour lesson. My brother, who was my companion for the session, shot his arrows much faster than I did, slicing through the target at what I am guessing was record speed for a beginner. I chose to really focus on each shot, channeling Heather’s advice (straighten my arm, lift my elbow, etc.) into each attempt at hitting the bulls-eye. I surprised myself with the progress I made in that hour, hitting the target more often than not. I did not realize prior to my lesson how much arm strength the activity requires, and I don’t believe I would have been able to hold up as long as I did if I had not been training with my women’s rugby team. To end the lesson, Heather added balloons to the target which created such a satisfying POP as we put everything we’d learned to use and hit that target right through the center.
My adventure assignment began with a Google search of extreme sports near Lancaster County. A company called Valley to Summit popped up on the screen. Not only was their website professional and easy to navigate, it also listed many adventures to choose from, like hiking, snowshoeing, backpacking, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, and rappelling. Rappelling! The decision was made and I booked my adventure.
Seven participants, two guides, and myself gathered at Chickies Rock on a lovely Sunday morning. We were fit with helmets, harnesses, and carabiners for our trip off of the mountain. We hiked to our location, were given instructions, and headed up the jagged rock face. Given the option of two rapelling spots, I chose the more difficult for my first decline. I learned how to tie the knots properly and placed my fate in the hands of our tour guide, David Mildenberg.
The most difficult part was overcoming the fear of placing your body perpendicular to the rock face and literally walking down while feeding the rope through your hands. Once accepting the fact that the harness supported my entire body weight, the rest was somewhat simple. Later in the day, we began our climb for the finale, a 180-foot rappel off the top of Chickies Rock. Whew! It felt like you were never going to touch solid ground again!
The day ended and I chatted with David as we returned to our vehicles learning that he started Valley to Summit two years ago based on his passion for the outdoors. The company offers group outdoor adventures, day trips, week-long trips, multi-adventure and custom outings. The act of rappelling along with the connection of new people during that day made my adventure a rewarding experience.
Mark and Marian Shooting
Okay, so I stole that title from Warren Zevon, but it actually is a great way to look at my adventure— things that polarize. You could say that most people don’t like lawyers (or, more accurately, the stereotype of lawyers), but most people who do like money and guns go right down the middle.
I started this adventure right in the middle of the perspective—I don’t love guns, but I don’t hate them either. I have discharged a firearm before, but many, many years ago. It was just a .22 rifle (not a big gun and yielding no visceral experience). For the first time, I used a handgun, and one with some kick to it. I watched the safety video, paid close attention to the wise instructor, and when the time came I took my stance and fired my shots (five shots to be precise).
That’s all I took and it was all I needed to take. I was able to place all five shots “in the black” of the bullseye and was told by the instructor that if all of my shots could be covered by the size of my palm, that is a very positive result. All of mine were covered.
So, I shot a gun, apparently shot it well, and that was enough for me. I was pleased to have done well and right out of the gate at that. Where did my experience that day land me in the love it/hate it debate? Right where I started—in the middle. I won’t tell you where I stand on lawyers or money, though. Those are adventures for another day.
For years I have wanted to learn how to handle a gun, and this assignment was the impetus to charge forward. We were greeted at the door and introduced to our instructor, Ryan Coutts. Ryan was professional, friendly, and (as I would soon learn) patient and empathetic. I carefully listened to and watched the safety video, and I was intent on being the best I could be.
We learned how to properly grip and store the gun, and proceeded into the shooting range. I heard water and another participant fired a gun. I jumped, but I refocused and listened to Ryan as he taught me how to load bullets into the magazine of the glock. I stood, gripped, and shot the gun five times. I shot well until my goggles steamed up. I realized I was crying—uncomfortable, embarrassing, perplexing tears. My second try was awful and off the bulls-eye. At that point,
My second try was awful and off the bulls-eye. At that point, Ryan quietly came to my side and explained that my reaction was normal and nothing to be ashamed of. “It’s loud, new, and disorienting,” he said. I asked to try again, and slowly loaded the magazine. I shot again, and this time I was better.
I ended the experience with making my FLL compatriots uncomfortable and myself surprised and embarrassed; but Ryan was ever-professional and gentle. What I do know is, I will not be defeated by this experience. I am calling Ryan and asking for another lesson. I am going to practice putting the bullets in the clip until I can do it without thinking, and then I will practice handling the gun until I am good enough to put the gun away in the closet, knowing it’s there and knowing I was not defeated by an inanimate object or my own emotions.
See more of the adventures the rest of our team faced on page 53 of the Issue 35 pdf.