Becoming An Outdoors Woman – What’s It Worth?

Two weekends a year a capacity crowd of 100 women converge on the Alabama 4-H Center to participate in the Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) program conducted by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Classes are taught by volunteer experts in all phases of outdoor activities from fishing, backpacking, and camp cooking, to riflery, canoeing, archery, and motor boat handling.

Other than giving the women a break from their everyday routines, what value is the BOW workshop? Economically speaking, the value is greater than one might think. Women often control or have great input into family buying decisions, so the manufacturers and businesses that give financial support and/or supplies for the workshop know that they will see returns from their investment. The enjoyable experiences of the weekend carry over into family life, influencing daily activities, weekend get-aways, and vacations.

According to the National Survey of Hunting, Fishing, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, participation among American women is increasing in both hunting and fishing activities, while male participation is remaining stable or decreasing slightly. Between 1985 and 1990, the percentage of women who hunted more than doubled. The BOW program is a factor that helps create interest and participation among women.

Based on a survey that sampled past BOW participants, the women reported spending an average of $1,000 to purchase equipment as a result of their experience at the hands-on workshop. Purchases ranged from camping gear to an ATV. New participants indicated that they planned to buy items relating to classes they attended, including compasses, camo clothing, shotguns, fly-fishing gear, and archery equipment.

 Women who attend BOW are predominately middle-aged, college-educated, career professionals with annual household incomes of over $55,000. These women possess a sizeable buying power.

The economic impact of the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program is realized by businesses specializing in nature-based recreational products. Outdoors stores generally cater to male customers, but they are becoming more aware of the potential of the female market, thanks in part to the successful BOW program.