Women in the Outdoors: Anna Van Nostrand
“Well, I’m actually on a horse right now, so if I lose you, I’ll get to the truck and call you back.”
That’s how my conversation started with Anna Van Nostrand, CZ USA’s newest Outdoors Professional. In addition to working with CZ, Anna is also a mother, competition dog trailer and a sporting clay tournament shooter. Two things were certain after my conversation with Anna. First, the future of hunting, conservation and the outdoors lays in large part with women like Anna. Second, her focus of sharing the growing world of bird dogs with new shooters will introduce a new, and much needed, demographic of outdoorspeople to the field.
Growing up a “Georgia Girl,” gun oil and dog boxes weren’t always in the plan, even though she grew up in an outdoors family. “I was raised in a hunting family. All of my memories are either being at hunting camp, talking about hunting camp, or shooting with my family. Sharing these traditions brought my family together regularly and created skills and interests that have lasted for generations,” said Anna. “My grandmother is 80 years old and is still talking about upcoming ‘doe days,’ and I have a daughter that just turned four that begs to hunt birds every weekend. No matter the age, my family is truly passionate about enjoying all aspects of the outdoors.”
Anna went to school for interior design, but after the market crash of 2008, she started a company called Packing Pink. The impetus for Packing Pink were mothers in her community asking her how to learn to shoot a firearm. “Packing Pink taught women pistol basics and the knowledge of what it takes to make those life-changing decisions in defensive shooting,” said Anna. “Teaching women how to shoot a gun is empowering, and that empowerment comes through in many other areas of their lives.”
Soon, the pistol range wasn’t enough. Her students wanted to learn to hunt. She arranged a deer hunt for five women at Williams Creek Lodge in Alabama in 2015. The three-day deer hunt was a success with cookouts, nightly singing and dancing, shotgun demonstrations, and a few sweet potatoes leftover from dinner substituted clays at the end of the evening. “It wasn’t about the kill, it was about being in the outdoors,” said Anna. “Not being able to brush their hair, being dirty and living in camo; that’s something women don’t get to embrace, but guys get to do all the time, and it’s important for women to experience that.”
Shortly after this experience, Anna was asked to be part of the Gainesville Ducks Unlimited chapter and became the first woman to the join chapter committee. Her mission was to get women outdoors and accomplished this by host “Clay Days” specifically for women. The first year of the event, 25 women joined and were introduced to Ducks Unlimited, conservation, and how to get involved in the outdoors.
Shortly after joining Ducks Unlimited, she started shooting sporting clays. It was through sporting clays that she discovered she had a gift for shotguns and birddogs. Within a year, she was shooting sporting clays competitively and was the owner of a German Shorthaired Pointer.
“I was shooting competitively and using a number of different shotguns but struggled to find a gun that really fit. That’s when I picked up my first CZ, which was a 2005 CZ Redhead Duluxe. It fit like a glove and I told myself ‘I am going to win with this gun.’ And that’s what I did the next week at Noontootla Creek Farm,” said Anna. “I call that Redhead ‘Old Trusty’ because no matter the weather, challenges the course threw at me or even shooting different games, it was always on point! Since ’05, the Readhead series has been upgraded and is called Redhead Premier. It comes in multiple gauges and it’s one of the most versatile guns on the market. I found myself taking it out for sporting clays in the morning then hunting with it in the evening.”
Anna attributes her success to CZ shotgun’s fit. “I think that’s one detail that people don’t focus on enough – shotgun fit. It plays a huge factor in a person’s consistency with their shooting ability. CZ makes guns that just fit well.”
As her shooting and hunting career progressed, she reached out to Dave Miller, CZ’s Shotgun Manager, to talk about the perfect CZ option, with their new options, for the vast shotgun activities she participates in. CZ provides an option for all shooters: lefties, ladies, target shooters and hunters. After hitting it off with Dave on business principles and sharing the same passion for educating others about shotgun sports, “I decided to join the CZ team, because I value what the company has to offer on a personal level and professional level. The people you see at the shooting events and in the field are the same people that run the office. She found the atmosphere that the CZ team creates for their clients was addicting and she just had to be a part of that. Farmers, businessmen, hunters, shooters, conservationists – that’s who CZ is and who they make guns for. As a mom with kids, horses, cows and birddogs, that really hit home for me. They care about the outdoors and keeping bird dog tradition alive and there is nothing more American than that.”
For women looking for a shotgun to participate in shooting sports, Anna recommends the CZ Upland Ultralight, because it’s light, it swings soundly, and it doesn’t have a lot of recoil. “During the Scholastic Clays Target Program national tournament, the Ultralight Upland was the biggest hit for the kids, so we gave it to the moms and everyone just seemed to love it. The guys ended up saying how they could carry it all day walking bird fields,” said Anna. “Another consideration is price-point. You want people to get involved, and you want to encourage them to have a reliable shotgun; however, you don’t want to them invest a bunch of money because they are just getting started. The Ultralight Upland has an MSRP of only $762, so it’s a win-win all the way around.”
Anna plans to continue to instruct firearms with an emphasis on wingshooting on the clays course, and in 2018, she will also focus on dog training. “As the shorthair has become a very popular family dog, the number of calls I am getting for advice on obedience training is rising. I want to help families enjoy their bird dog and educate them on how they can get the best out of their dog in the field,” said Anna.
As our conversation came to an end and Anna was putting up her horse, she said something that really resonated, “You know, when the women get outdoors, the kids get outdoors, which creates a family atmosphere. When it is a family tradition, it’s something that will live on for generations.”
By Rehan Nana, Director of Corporate Relations