Step Outside WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 http://stepoutside.org/ Step Outside 144 144 http://stepoutside.org/ https://cdnstep-americantownscom.netdna-ssl.com/img/stepoutside_logo.gif Wed, 26 Jun 2019 21:44:36 -0500 Getting Started: A Guide for the Novice Bowhunter Bowhunting is among the most rewarding forms of hunting and one of the most popular. According to Statista, 4.6 million Americans (aged six years and above) participated in bowhunting in 2018. 

Hunting game with a bow, whether it's whitetails or wild turkeys, requires more patience than firearm hunting. Bowhunting is characterized by sitting atop tree stands, surveying the features of the environment around you, understanding the behaviors of the game you're hunting, and making sure you have an unobstructed path to a vital area of that deer, moose, bear, turkey, or other game. 

If you've never tried the sport before or if you're just getting your feet wet, Step Outside is the place to start. 

Vin T. Sparano's "Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia: Camping, Fishing, Hunting, Boating, Wilderness Survival, First Aid" is a superb resource for beginner bowhunting (and for a variety of other outdoor sports and activities). Before you get started, learn the basics and figure out what kind of bow is best suited for what you're interested in. 

Archery and Bowhunting Basics: Types of Bows


Archery and bowhunting as sports today are practiced in a variety of ways. There are archers who prefer to shoot at conventional targets; roving archers who ramble through woodlands testing their skill on tree stumps and other natural targets; and field archers who roam a course shooting at targets that simulate hunting conditions. Then there are bowhunters, some of whom have taken every game animal from the groundhog to the bull elephant with well-placed arrows. Read more.

Once you have a better understanding of the type of bow you're looking for, now it's time to make a purchase. 

Buying Your New Bow Made Easy


Thinking of upgrading your old rig or buying your first new bow? Take the hassle out of the process by considering these four simple factors first. Read more

If you're looking for a quality shop to purchase your first bow, click your state below for more information on the top outfitters near you: 

It might be cliché, but practice makes perfect. From building at-home ranges for target practice to visiting a local range at your favorite archery shop, working on your accuracy helps to boost confidence in your skillset and that will bring you the results you're looking for. 

Find the Best Place to Shoot Your Bow—Archery Tips


Whether you build your own backyard bow range or shoot at a local archery shop, finding a place to shoot is critical for building your archery skills. Read more.

Learning to tighten up your shooting is much easier said than done but a few simple tips can make a significant difference. Ensuring that your bow fits you perfectly and managing your grip are just a few ways you can shoot more accurate, tighter groupings. 

Bow Accuracy: 5 Easy Ways to Shoot Tighter Groups


Follow these five simple steps to dial in your bow-shooting accuracy and tighten your groups right now. Read more.

An aspect of bowhunting that could be forgotten is its numerous health benefits. Shooting a bow with regularity involves substantial work for your back and shoulder muscles. Additionally, the focus required in target shooting and hunting calls for intense concentration which can help in facets of life off the field, too. 

5 Ways to Get Healthy by Shooting a Bow 


Discover how target shooting with a bow can boost both your physical health and mental well-being. Read more.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/getting-started-a-guide-for-the-novice-bowhunter http://stepoutside.org/article/getting-started-a-guide-for-the-novice-bowhunter Fri, 31 May 2019 00:00:00 -0500
10 Great Pet-Friendly Campsites in the U.S. Can’t bear the thought of leaving your furry friend behind while you set off for adventure? Bring them along for the ride and make memories together in the great outdoors. From camping resorts in Tennessee to oceanfront destinations in Maine, let your pet explore and play at these 10 awesome pet-friendly campsites in the U.S. 


This family-friendly camping resort includes all the members of your family. A pool, alpine water slide, and the inflatable fun zone provide plenty of entertainment for all ages. Plus, there are tons of paved trails that are perfect for exploring with your pet. Please note that pets are not allowed in the rental cabins but Adventure Bound has both RV and tent camping sites available where pets are permitted. 

The gateway to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Cherokee is surrounded by the gorgeous scenery of the Smoky Mountains. The campground itself is brimming with activities, including a swimming pool, stocked fish pond, bike rentals, game room, and pre-planned activities. Pets are welcome in their pet-friendly cabins and are welcome to stay in your RV at no additional charge. 

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This scenic wonderland is perfect for your pets. Tons of hiking trails, pool, hot tub, and even a dog park give you plenty to do without ever leaving the campground. The beautiful spacious grounds will be just as exciting to explore for your four-legged friends.  

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This beachside campground is a dream come true—for you and your pet! Enjoy long walks on the beach and playing in the ocean. Let your pup run around in the sand all day and then gather around the campfire to unwind and cozy up.  

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Pets are always welcome at this majestic camping resort. Brimming with wildlife and breathtaking natural scenery, the campground is surrounded by pine forests and features a sandpit volleyball court, horseshoe arena, and river that’s perfect for fishing.

Camping in a redwood forest is a dream come true at this pet-friendly campground. Guests and their four-legged friends will be mesmerized by the natural wonders here, from the towering redwoods to Cricket Creek that slices right through the middle of the resort.

Sweeping ocean views set the tone for a memorable camping trip with your pet. The beach is just a stone’s throw from the campground and most sites will have at least a partial view of the coast. This is the perfect warm weather escape. 

If you’re looking for a truly middle-of-nowhere getaway, you’ll love the solitude this campground delivers. This mountain retreat offers everything from fishing and horseback riding to hiking and watersports. And, its close proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park only adds to its appeal.

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The rustic lakeside cabins are the perfect place to get away from it all, especially if you can bring along your pet for company. The folks here know how to make you feel like family while you enjoy your well-earned downtime.

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Just outside the Black Hills National Forest and minutes from Mount Rushmore, this camping resort is brimming with activities: mini golf, a playground, swimming pools, and sports courts, to name a few. Take your pet on a scenic walk on the many walking trails throughout the resort or relax at your shaded campsite. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-great-petfriendly-campsites-in-the-us http://stepoutside.org/article/10-great-petfriendly-campsites-in-the-us Fri, 31 May 2019 00:00:00 -0500
Cast a Line: 10 Awesome Bait & Tackle Shops in the U.S. One of the keys to success in fishing is the gear. Starting out with the right rod and proper bait are the first steps, which makes local bait and tackle shops a crucial part of your fishing experience. And the best shops offer much more than just bait and bobbers. They are places to go for local expertise, where you can get chatting with the owners and customers about what's biting, when, and where. If you're an angler in the area, don't miss out on these 10 excellent bait and tackle shops. 

Whether you’re just off the plane with nary a fly in your hat brim or a grizzled angler stopping in to talk about the bite in Ship Creek, the Bait Shack is the place to go in Anchorage. They stock all the gear, bait, flies, and supplies you’ll need, and the experienced staff serves it up with fish stories and deep local knowledge. If you’re just visiting, you can rent equipment and arrange a guide through the Bait Shack, as well.

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Anglers looking to tie into a striper or chase one of the White River’s monster brown trout in Northwestern Arkansas need look no further than Hook Line & Sinker Outdoors for their gear needs. The shop has two locations, one in Rogers and one in Bentonville. Both locations stock top brands and boast deep selections of rods, reels, and tackle, as well as live and artificial baits. 

For more than 80 years, Squidco Fishing has been supplying Southern California’s offshore anglers with the gear they need to haul in their fish. With everything from bait and fishing licenses to maps, boots, and reel repair, Squidco is the place to go for all of your saltwater needs and advice. 

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The Florida Keys are an angler’s paradise. A quick boat ride gets you to some of the best offshore fishing on the East Coast. Closer in, you’ll find incredible bottom fishing, as well as world-renowned inshore and flats fisheries. No matter the type of fishing you’re doing or the species your chasing, the Tackle Box in Marathon is the place to get the gear and supplies you need.

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For nearly a century, anglers on Hawaii’s Big Island have relied on S. Tokunaga Store for bait, gear, tackle, and advice. Whether you’re heading offshore to troll for ahi or marlin or dropping heavy gear off the South Point cliffs to hook a monster ulua, you’ll find everything you need, as well as a few nuggets of wisdom, at S. Tokunaga Store. 

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Full Stringer Bait and Tackle in Longville—within close proximity to some of Minnesota’s best-known walleye, pike, and muskie fisheries—has been voted the North Star State’s favorite bait and tackle shop. In addition to rods, reels, and ice, you’ll find just about any kind of live/natural bait or artificial lure you can imagine. They may even tell you where to find the bite.

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With locations in Carthage and Joplin, Bud’s Bait has been the go-to bait and tackle shop for Southwest Missouri anglers since 1962. Both locations stock a tremendous selection of the gear and supplies you’ll need to chase bass, walleye, crappie or catfish: Live bait to lures, rods, reels, and everything in between. 

Located on the Yellowstone River, Billings is a stone’s throw from the best trout fisheries under the Big Sky—and given Montana’s world-class reputation for trout angling, that’s saying something. The place to go for one of the state’s largest selections of trout fishing gear is East Rosebud Fly & Tackle. From waders to fly-tying supplies, East Rosebud is the place to get outfitted before you hit the river.

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Anyone on the Cape or heading out to Cape Cod for a weekend of fishing can get the gear they need at Forestdale Bait and Tackle in Sandwich. Forestdale Bait and Tackle carries gear and supplies for both salt and freshwater anglers, with a bent toward those chasing trout and stripers. The shop even has flies and equipment for fly anglers. 

When you head out to the Jersey Shore for a day or weekend of fishing, hit up Surf City Bait & Tackle on Long Beach Island. Surf City carries plenty of live bait and a superior selection of tackle and gear. In addition, the shop offers rentals, daily fishing reports, and weekly fishing talks from experienced locals.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/cast-a-line-10-awesome-bait-tackle-shops-in-the-us http://stepoutside.org/article/cast-a-line-10-awesome-bait-tackle-shops-in-the-us Fri, 31 May 2019 00:00:00 -0500
Summer Trekking – 10 of the Most Scenic Hikes in America On a slow weekend this summer, skip lazily lounging by the pool with the crowds. Instead, hit the trails. All across America, hikers of varying skill levels can find breathtaking beauty. Discover the country's most scenic wonders, from jaw-dropping canyons and lush forests to secret mountain lakes and waterfalls. Summer isn't all about surf and sun—and these 10 stunningly scenic hikes prove it.

This hike is ideal for those who want breathtaking scenery without too much difficulty. The trail itself is just under a mile and can be easily trekked by the whole family. The rewarding views include waterfalls, massive rocky cliffs, and stone steps that you’d only find in fairytales.

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Table Rock State Park is home to the most recognized mountain in the state. Its noteworthy smooth, bare face looms above the park, and the Pinnacle Mountain Trail is the only way to get to the top. It’s a strenuous 4.2-mile journey, but the sweeping views at the top are well worth it. 

There aren’t many hiking trails quite like this one, as much of it is actually in the water! You’ll be ankle or knee-deep in the Virgin River as you make your way up the canyon, which is too narrow for there to be any dry banks (hence the name). The whole journey is 6-8 miles, depending on your enthusiasm, all while twisting and turning through this gorgeous scenic wonder.

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Don’t let the name scare you away from the rewarding views of this trail. Large mossy boulders and glimpses of lakes and Mount Washington and Si lead the way to Rattlesnake Ledge, a rocky outcrop that lets you soak in the scenery. 

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The series of small waterfalls that make up the Sweet Creek Falls Trail is perfect for the whole family. Along the way you’ll cross bridges and walkways that add a little excitement to the journey. 

Dream Lake Trail is one of many amazing trails in Rocky Mountain National Park and though it’s just one mile, it intertwines with other trails to extend to your journey. Along the way, you’ll visit Nymph Lake, which often has views of the snow-covered Rockies—even in the summer. 

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This area is home to two amazing trails, but the Pedestal Rocks Trail tends to be the favorite. Tucked in the Ozark Mountains, the 2.4-mile loop trail features a waterfall and interesting rock formations that are perfect for photos.

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This isn’t your typical hiking trail, as it’s paved and out in the open instead of a forest, but hiking is permitted and it’s nothing short of stunning. The entire trail spans 326 miles from Cincinnati to Cleveland and travels through several cities, towns, and rural areas. The trail takes you through a variety of scenes, including bridges, lakes and rivers, and forests, so there’s always something exciting to see or explore.

If you’ve ever wanted to see the top of Texas, this trail is your chance. The 8.4-mile trail is steep and difficult with lots of switchbacks and a 3,000-foot elevation gain. Many backpackers choose to camp at the summit, and the breathtaking view makes it easy to see why.

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This little German-inspired town is a hot spot for hikers, particularly on the Raven Cliff Falls Trail. This 4.8-mile out and back trail is accessible year-round and it's dotted with bridges, rocky outcrops, and of course the beautiful falls.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/summer-trekking-10-of-the-most-scenic-hikes-in-america http://stepoutside.org/article/summer-trekking-10-of-the-most-scenic-hikes-in-america Fri, 31 May 2019 00:00:00 -0500
Everything You Need to Know About SUP Yoga There's nothing like finding your inner Zen in the middle of the water. Stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga has taken over communities from California to New Hampshire, giving you a chance to hone your balance and focus in a way you won't find doing yoga on land. 

Here’s what you need to know to get started in this new fitness trend. 

SUP yoga uses similar fundamentals as yoga but it’s not quite the same. It requires a different level of focus and balance and engages muscles that are often neglected on stable ground. 

It’s also a great way to develop mindfulness, as losing your concentration might land you in the water. The boards are wobbly, so practicing yoga on them forces you to get intentional with your movements. 

The health benefits are similar to that of traditional yoga, including muscle toning, stress release, increased flexibility and coordination, and strength training. Each session is considered a workout, and you’ll definitely be feeling it the next day.

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Before you start, make sure you know just what kind of gear you'll need to successfully practice SUP yoga. It can be a bit of an investment at the start but having good quality gear is essential. If you're not quite ready to fully commit to the sport, classes often provide the gear needed as part of the cost. Here are the things you'll need.  

Paddleboard
There are paddleboards that are specifically made for yoga, but any wide, flat paddleboard will work. It’s helpful to find one with comfortable squishy padding as you will be spending time doing poses on your hands and knees. 

Paddle
Paddles may be sold together or separately from the board. Choose a paddle that’s properly sized for your height.

Leash
Most boards don’t include a leash, but it’s good to have one. The leash tethers you to the board so in case you fall off, your board won’t drift away without you.

Lifejacket or flotation device
Safety first! Make sure you have some form of flotation device. Lifejackets might make it too hard to do yoga poses, so find one that’s low profile and easy to maneuver in.

Anchor
If you like the idea of keeping your board in one place while you do yoga, get an anchor. A simple fishing anchor that attaches to the same place as your leash will do.

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If you’re new to SUP yoga or it’s been awhile since your last session, put the following tips into practice and get the most from your experience.

Get comfortable with your board
Paddleboards have a learning curve, even when you’re not trying to strike a Warrior pose. Conquer those beginner jitters with some test paddleboarding and get comfortable with the basics before you add any additional movements. Standing on your board and paddling around a bit will get you familiarized with the feeling. 

Find a calm spot
Small ripples can feel like tidal waves when you’re on a paddleboard. Try to find quiet, calm waters that won’t make you shaky on your board.

Move slowly
If you’re brand new to paddleboarding, take it slow. Don’t be in a hurry to complete the vinyasa. Take time to enjoy it and soak in all your newfound paddleboard skills.

Keep a wide stance
Keeping your feet shoulder- or hip-distance apart gives you better balance on the board. It can also help to stabilize your body if waters get a little rough. 

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SUP yoga has edged into every major city in the U.S. by now, or at least close to it. Coastal and lake cities are prime opportunities for SUP sports and classes, along with towns that have indoor pools in their community centers. And if you can’t find a class or company that offers it, rent your own SUP and try your hand at a few basic poses. 

Search online to find a class near you and say Namaste to a new adventure!

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http://stepoutside.org/article/everything-you-need-to-know-about-sup-yoga http://stepoutside.org/article/everything-you-need-to-know-about-sup-yoga Fri, 31 May 2019 00:00:00 -0500
Sharpen Your Shot: 10 Must-Experience Shooting Ranges in the U.S. Even the most talented marksman needs to practice their shot. You might have a nice backyard setup on your property or a local range you frequent, but these shooting ranges throughout the country take things to the next level. From Talladega, Alabama to Murray, Utah, these facilities are outfitted with all kinds of features, like state-of-the-art electronic ranges, private classes, competitions, and much more. If you’re a gun enthusiast, you won’t want to miss them. Sharpen your shot, make some friends, and have a little fun at one of these world-class shooting ranges in America.

In the Greater Washington, D.C. area, shooters will enjoy practicing their skills at Elite Shooting Sports. Located in Manassas, Virginia, Elite was founded by a competitive shooter with more than 30 years of competitions under his belt. The range offers several courses, including classes and range times geared specifically toward women. Elite also offers firearm rentals and armorer services. 

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Shooters in the Salt Lake City region can get their fix at TNT Guns and Range in Murray, Utah. The largest indoor shooting range in the Mountain West, TNT boasts a huge selection of firearms to choose from, including fully-automatic weapon rentals, as well as gunsmithing services and private booths available for rental.

Lock and Load Miami is South Florida’s top-rated shooting range. More an entertainment experience, Lock and Load is geared toward giving shooters a machine gun (they claim the largest selection in the U.S.) or specialty gun shooting experience (a handgun add-on is optional). The facility also boasts a museum and art gallery. 

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Folks in the greater Baltimore area can get their shooting fix at FreeState Gun Range in Middle River, Maryland. The range offers a wide variety of trainings, from introductory firearms courses to state-specific permit courses. The range itself consists of 12 state-of-the-art electronic shooting ranges. Firearm rentals are available on site.

For more than six decades, Angeles shooting ranges has provided Southern California shooting enthusiasts with a safe outdoor place to practice their marksmanship with handguns, rifles, and shotguns. The range sells ammunition, but you must supply the firearm, as they do not offer rental weapons. Classes, as well as private range rentals, are available. 

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Battlefield Vegas offers Sin City shooting enthusiasts an incredible selection of firearms and shooting experiences—including custom packages that you can tailor toward your favorite moment in military history or even a video game. Want to crush a car with a tank? You can do that, too!

Located in Warrenton, North Carolina, Frontline Defense Firearms Training Center and Range claims to be the state’s “fastest growing” outdoor shooting range. The range offers a variety of firearm training, as well as competitions. They specialize in long-range, precision rifle shooting, and are the only range on the East Coast that claims to do so.

Manhattanites looking for a place to practice their shooting skills need look no farther than Westside Rifle and Pistol Range on West 20th. With roots going back more than half a century, Westside is now a full-service, indoor shooting range that offers a variety of classes and even the opportunity to shoot a .22-caliber rifle for those New Yorkers without handgun or hunting licenses.

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Top Gun Range is an indoor shooting range in Houston, Texas. They offer a variety of public and private classes, including skills training and conceal and carry instruction. Ammunition is available for purchase and a wide variety of firearms, from handguns to machine guns, can be rented from the range.

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Alabama’s Talladega Marksmanship Park is a facility that’s operated by the Civilian Marksmanship Program. The range is a 500-acre outdoor facility with state-of-the art electronic targets for airguns, rifles, and handguns, as well as sporting clays for those looking to hone their shotgun marksmanship. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/sharpen-your-shot-10-mustexperience-shooting-ranges-in-the-us http://stepoutside.org/article/sharpen-your-shot-10-mustexperience-shooting-ranges-in-the-us Fri, 31 May 2019 00:00:00 -0500
10 Must-Visit ATV Parks for a Perfect Weekend Getaway Miles upon miles of forested trails and mud, rock crawling through rugged terrain—get your dose of adrenaline from one of America's many exhilarating ATV parks. From North Carolina to Colorado, these ATV parks boast thousands of acres, terrain ranging from sand dunes to mud bogs, obstacle courses, and so much more. Next time you go riding, make a whole trip of it because these places require it. Here are some of our favorite ATV destinations in America and where to stay nearby.  

Brushy Mountain Motor Sports Park consists of more than 1,700 acres and over 100 miles of trails through the forests and across the slopes of North Carolina’s Brush Mountains. Camping is available at the park, itself, or the Lodges at Brushy Mountain is a great place to escape from the day’s adrenaline rush and relax.

Folks in western Indiana get their off-roading fix at Badlands Off Road Park near Attica. The park boasts more than 800 acres of multi-directional terrain that ranges from sand dunes and gravel to wooded trails, streams, mud, and rocks. Riders of all experience levels will find a trail that makes them happy. The park’s Off the Trail Vacation Rentals and Campground offers 14 rental cabins and houses, as well as camping accommodations. The Eagles Nest Lodge offers alternative lodging in nearby Williamsport.

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Tall Pines ATV Park is worth the trip to western New York. The park boasts more than 70 miles of well-maintained, forested trails—including mud bogs and an obstacle course—that riders of all experience levels can enjoy. There are several rental cabins available within the park. If availability is limited, the Hann Homestead Inn is just minutes away from Tall Pines.

If you’re looking for the best ATV riding in the Chicagoland area, head for the Cliffs Insane Terrain Off Road Park on the Illinois River near Marseilles. The Cliffs boasts more than 300 ridable, forested acres with an interconnected trail system. You’ll find camping at the close-by Glenwood RV Resort or stay in the Starved Rock Lodge at the state park of the same name.

The only public off-roading area on this list, Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area offers spectacular ATV riding in a stunning Pacific Coast setting. The trails connect several off-road staging areas, and ATV-friendly camping is available by permit in the recreation area. Alternatively, you can stay at the nearby Winchester Bay Inn.

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The Rausch Creek Trailriders are a network of trails that crisscross 8,500 acres of mountainous coal land in the forests of central Pennsylvania. Members enjoy unfettered access to the trails—some of the best in the state—but the public is welcome several times a year, as well. Twin Grove RV Resort and Cottages, in nearby Pine Grove, offers both camping options and rental cottages.

With more than 1,000 acres of terrain, Florida Tracks and Trails, in Punta Gorda, is the Sunshine State’s biggest off-road park. In addition to the trails, the park offers swimming, concessions, paintball, a full bar, and overnight camping. For riders who prefer to get away from the park at night, head into town and stay at the PG Waterfront Hotel and Suites.

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In eastern Tennessee, you can ride the tracks ‘til your heart’s content at Bikini Bottoms Off Road and Zip Line Park near Dyersburg. The family-owned park offers terrain suited for everyone from beginners to the most-extreme riders. You can camp at the park for free on event weekends or by appointment on other days. If you’d prefer different accommodations, the Reelfoot Lake Inn is just up the road in East Tiptonville.

With more than 5,000 acres of park and over 200 miles of trails in Northwest Louisiana, Muddy Bottoms ATV and Recreation Park is a trail riders’ paradise. In addition to their trails, Muddy Bottoms also host events like concerts and Mudapalooza. Stay at Loft on the Square in nearby Magnolia, Arkansas, or camp at the Beaver Dam Campground in the Kisatchie National Forest.

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All-terrain enthusiasts in Colorado flock to RAM Off-Road Park’s 86 acres of heart-pounding terrain. You can practice your rock crawling skills or launch your ATV for some adrenaline-packed airborne action. More of a spectator? RAM hosts several off-road races and events every year. Hotel Elegante is nearby and has plenty of parking for trailers. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-mustvisit-atv-parks-for-a-perfect-weekend-getaway http://stepoutside.org/article/10-mustvisit-atv-parks-for-a-perfect-weekend-getaway Fri, 31 May 2019 00:00:00 -0500
5 Prime Summer Bird Hunting Destinations and Where to Stay Although most bird hunting seasons in the United States occur in the fall and winter months, you can still find some fowling opportunities during the calendar’s warmer seasons, from late spring to late summer. While the varieties of game species are limited during these times, the possibilities for enjoying yourself in the field are endless. Here are some awesome warm-weather bird hunting destinations, along with our recommendations for where to stay when you go.

Kansas is one of the top dove-hunting destinations in the United States. One of the reasons the state has become a destination for dove hunters is that Kansas has year-round seasons for three species: Eurasian collared doves, ringed turtle doves, and pigeons, which are also known as rock doves. Sunflower and millet fields, and nearby water sources offer the best habitat for doves. Check the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism website for up-to-date season, licensing, and hunting area information.

If you’re new to dove hunting or prefer to have a little guidance, consider staying with a lodge that offers guided dove hunts. Upland Inn, not far from Wichita, offers room, board, and guided dove hunts in some of the state’s best dove habitat. 

For bird hunters who prefer to get out while the weather is still warm, New York’s early Canada goose season is the hunt for you. With a season that opens on September 1 across much of the state, the early goose hunt is designed to cull the exploding population of the honkers in New York. The Finger Lakes region offers some of the state’s prime goose hunting habitat.

The Frontenac Fowlers specialize in guiding bird hunts in the area and even offer a lodging option for visiting hunters: The Fowler’s Roost Lodge. You’re not required to use their guiding services to stay in the lodge, but why pass up local knowledge when you can get it?

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In Texas, hunters can target wild (non-domesticated) pigeons, also known as rock doves, and Eurasian collared doves year-round. The Chaparral Wildlife Management Area in South Texas offers good habitat for doves and is renowned as a productive hunting ground in the region.

Near Chaparral WMA, accommodations are somewhat few and far between. The town of Carrizo Springs is about 45 minutes from the WMA and offers several lodging options, including the SB-RV Park if you’re camping and the Oasis Lodge, which is a quaint hotel located on a three-acre ranch.

North Dakota is a major flyway for dozens of species of migratory waterfowl. Summer hunters will appreciate the state’s early Canada goose season, which typically opens in mid-August. The area along Lake Sakakawea—a huge impoundment of the Missouri River—makes for perfect Canada goose habitat and superb hunting. The Lewis and Clark and Trenton Wildlife Management Areas are located along the lake and river and are open to bird hunting. Be sure to check the North Dakota Game and Fish website for the latest licensing information and season dates.

Indian Hills Resort offers both tent and RV camping, as well as log camping cabins, rental condos, and lodge rooms—all on the shore of Lake Sakakawea and within easy driving distance of prime Canada goose hunting grounds.

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Maine offers turkey hunters a fall season that typically begins at the beginning of October, as well as a late spring season that runs from the end of April through early June. The Gene Letourneau (Frye Mountain) Wildlife Management Area, near the town of Knox, encompasses more than 5,000 acres of upland forest and abandoned farm fields, which make for awesome turkey hunting habitat. Note that hunting is not permitted on Sundays in Maine. Check the Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife website for other licensing and season information.

There’s little lodging near the wildlife management area, and camping, understandably, is prohibited within the WMA. But the coastal village of Belfast is less than half an hour away and offers several lodging options, such as the Seascape Motel and Cottages.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-prime-summer-bird-hunting-destinations-and-where-to-stay http://stepoutside.org/article/5-prime-summer-bird-hunting-destinations-and-where-to-stay Fri, 31 May 2019 00:00:00 -0500
Hiking Boots—Six Great Choices Your Feet Will Love Proper footwear is one of the many keys to a successful hike. Here are six boots that will coddle your heel and arches while performing admirably on a wide variety of trails. And if your favorite boots are looking a little tired, keep reading for tips to improve your fit and increase the life of your boots. 

6 Great Choices

Instead of choosing footwear from a long list of companies, we zeroed in on three of the world’s leading bootmakers. Just two boots were picked from each manufacturer—one for lighter use and one for moderate use. All the boots feature waterproof liners and waterproof construction. While most are based on new, cutting-edge designs, there are a couple of classics that continue to stand the test of time.

In addition, these three companies feature excellent customer service to ensure any boot mentioned below is worth your hard-earned coin. 

Photograph by Peter B. Mathiesen

Mountain 600

Taking its DNA from the original Mountain Lite, the 600 model uses soft suede leather uppers and is less than half the weight of its cousin. The underside features a Thermoplastic urethane heel frame for support and stability, and all-new Vibram SPE midsoles for rebound, comfort and support. On the bottom, a Vibram Fuga outsole uses the proprietary Megagrip compound for traction on wet and dry surfaces.

If you prefer leather and want a lighter boot, this is it. 

Sizing: 7.5-12, 13, 14, 15; medium width only.

SRP: $179.00.

 

Photograph by Peter B. Mathiesen

Mountain Lite

Full grain, one-piece leather, with a classic stitched-down Vibram sole are Mountain Lite hallmarks—this is old school in the best way. These boots have been in the Danner line for more than three decades for good reasons: great support, outstanding durability, and they can be repaired.

You will need a few days of break-in time, plus you should treat the leather at least once a year. Made in the USA and, for a nominal fee, Danner will rebuild them for you.

Sizing: 6.5-12,13; medium and wide widths.

SRP: $380.00.

Quick Tip: Three Rules of Fit

While many products are great to purchase online, boots are the one item we highly recommend you try on at your local retailers, so you can compare different brands and sizes. Here are basics rules to consider every time you slip on a new boot:

1. Try them on during the afternoon. Most humans’ foot size conservatively increases by at least a half size as the day wears on.

2. Try different brands. Fit can be dramatically different from one brand to another. (Sizing can even vary within the same company’s products.) Never assume a size 10 will fit just because you have “always” bought 10s.

3. Find the perfect boot? Buy two. Although the manufacturers we listed have offered some models for a decade or more, many manufacturers change their designs every two or three seasons. Never assume your favorite boots will be around in two years.

Photograph by Peter B. Mathiesen

Drifter

The Drifter weighs a mere 15 ounces for a size 9, the lightest boot in Irish Setter’s history and the lightest boot in our group. This low-cut trail boot is well suited for day hikes with a light backpack.

The lacing provides a tailored fit around the upper of the foot, while the generously padded tongue is so comfortable they are ideal for urban walking on concrete or attacking moderately rocky trials.

These boots require no break-in time and for most applications you’ll forget you have them on.

Sizing: 8-12, 13, 14; medium and wide widths.

SRP: $144.59.

 

Photograph by Peter B. Mathiesen

Ravine

Irish Setter introduced the Ravine only two years ago and the model has been so popular the company continues to expand its lineup. For most hikers, this boot will be slip-it-on-and-go. The excellent lacing system stays locked, enabling the wearer to customize the upper quickly for a perfect fit.

Using super-durable fabrics, the boot has an armored toe, and an upper made of suede leather and hardwearing nylon fabric. The top has generous padding at the ankle; a dual-density midsole offers impressive shock abortion and stability. There’s additional torsion control to help with uneven surfaces and the soles are grippy as hell. This boot will not disappoint.

Sizing: 8-11.5, 12, 13, 14, medium width; 8-11.5, wide.

SRP: $179.99.

Photograph by Peter B. Mathiesen

Sesto GTX

This boot is light and delivers the classic Lowa support via the proprietary Mono Wrap midsole. The boots are at home in hard conditions and offer good durability with a mix of suede leather and nylon. With little to no break-in time required, the Sesto is a great choice for moderate day hikes with a lighter pack. The Multicross Evo soles are sticky, performing well in slick conditions. This boot is highly capable and comfortable right out of the box.

Sizing: 7.5-12, 13, 14, narrow or wide widths.

SRP: $185.00.

 

Photograph by Peter B. Mathiesen

Renegade GTX

The Renegade GTX is one of the first molded-sole leather hiking boots to meet rigorous standards set by hunters and hikers worldwide. These are reasonably light boots offering serious support with Lowa’s Mono Wrap midsole. The insoles are infused with gel yet are supportive enough to carry a medium pack. The Vibram soles offer great performance in gravel, rock and dirt. The boots have been in the Lowa line for nearly a decade—a testament to their popularity.

Sizing: 7.5-12, 13, 14, 15, 16; narrow or wide.

SRP: $230.00.

Once you’ve chosen a pair boots, there are some footwear fundamentals to help you maximize mileage and comfort. Let’s start with socks.

1. Socks

The rules of socks are simple: They must be clean, and in good condition. Translated, that means you should not be able to see through them and if they are too thin or have holes, buy new ones. Worn socks greatly compromise the performance of any boot. If you haven’t bought socks in a year or more, buy them now!

Farm to Feet makes some of the best socks on the planet. Made in the USA, you can even trade them in if you tear or wear a hole in them. Smartwool also offers an extensive line of high-performance hiking socks for men and women.

2. Insoles

If your old footwear originally cost less than $125, chances are the insoles are crying for an upgrade. Another reason to add some under support is if you have higher arches. High-grade insoles can even breathe extra life into a pair of older boots while adding improved support and comfort to a worn footbed.

These insoles from Superfeet will spoil you.

3. Laces

It is surprisingly difficult to find decent laces in the retail world. I keep an extra pair in my primary pack and another pair in my vehicle. When you order laces, make sure they’re long enough.

The Old Kook offers great laces—strong enough to start a lawn mower and I have yet to break a pair of Old Kooks

Photograph By Max Seigal for LOWA Boots

 

4. Staying Waterproof.

All of the boots chosen for this review have a separate waterproof bootie inserted into the construction of the inner layer. Originally designed by Danner more than 30 years ago and later adapted by Gore, this inner sock method has proven to be both functional and durable.

There is a limit to the lifespan of the waterproof bootie, however, and over a few seasons they may begin to leak. There are several methods that can bring the boots back to their former glory.

Atsko Snow Seal, has been around since the 1960s. For leather waterproofing and care, I have found no better product. The same company makes exterior water proofing for fabric-based boots as well. There’s a wealth of waterproofing tech info on the Atsko web site. Another excellent source for waterproofing and boot-care products is Nikwax.

Follow the rules, pick a high-quality pair of boots and take care of them. There’s no reason any of these boots can’t last several seasons and a few may even last a decade.

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Photograph By Max Seigal for LOWA Boots http://stepoutside.org/article/hiking-bootssix-great-choices-your-feet-will-love http://stepoutside.org/article/hiking-bootssix-great-choices-your-feet-will-love Fri, 24 May 2019 00:00:00 -0500
5 Awesome DIY Hunts You Can Take This Year Is there a greater gift—or a more appealing challenge—for an American hunter than chasing game across public land, using only your instincts, gear and grit to fill your tag?

For many Western hunters, this challenge is literally part of the landscape. West of Nebraska, public land is abundant and accessible. Hunting opportunities are varied and plentiful. And while outfitters do good business, most hunts are open to anyone with a tag and a willingness to learn the country and the animals, and who can take care of themselves in landscapes with few signs of human development.

But a Western hunting trip is seldom as easy as loading up the Suburban and pointing it toward the sunset. Many big-game tags require years of going through the application process before you draw. Season dates, bag limits, and hunting-unit boundaries often change from year to year. And then there’s the scale of the country. It’s big and wild, and often requires specialized gear. Sound intimidating? It is, but don’t let that scare you away from an awesome adventure. Here’s a way to get started.

These five hunts represent classic Western public-land adventures, but they don’t require years of planning and license preference-point accumulation. And all are easily accomplished with basic gear. Best of all, you can do them right now!

The clock is ticking on the largest native upland bird of the West. Sage grouse are a perennial candidate for listing as an endangered species, mainly because of habitat loss. Hunting opportunities for “bombers,” as sage grouse are often called for their ponderous flight, have been restricted over the years. Currently, only a couple of states offer sage grouse hunting.

Wyoming has the most abundant sage grouse population in the West, but the season runs for only a fortnight in the best area, called Hunt Area 1, which basically covers the western half of the state. The season runs Sept. 16-30 this year, and hunters can bag two sage grouse a day and keep four in possession. Nonresident hunting licenses cost $74 for the season (allowing you to also hunt sharptail grouse, partridge, and pheasants), or $22 per day. There’s also a nonresident youth license, which costs $40 per season and is a good incentive to bring young hunters on this classic Western bird hunt.

GO HERE: The Cowboy State’s best sage grouse area is the expansive sagebrush sea along the historic Mormon and Oregon trails, from Casper west to South Pass. Almost all this land is public (managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and you can camp and fish on much of these federal properties. During late September, hike riparian washes and areas with tall, shady sagebrush, where the birds will seek shade and bugs on hot autumn afternoons.

Sky-darkening flocks of waterfowl, abundant public access and one of the most varied bags in the West are all within sight of metropolitan Salt Lake City. Waterfowling Utah’s Great Salt Lake is one of the most accessible and productive hunts in the West.

Even better, it doesn’t take a lot of planning or gear to bag ducks here in this sprawling inland sea, surrounded with abundant public marshland. For good pass-shooting and decoying with small spreads, head to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge on the northeast shore of Great Salt Lake.

GO HERE: Set up on dikes on Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, where a small boat will get you away from the crowds and allow you to decoy diving species like redheads, buffleheads, ringnecks, and even the mighty canvasback, the trophy bird of American waterfowlers.

For season rules, license fees, and open (and closed) hunting areas, check out the annual Utah Waterfowl Guidebook.

Drawing a Montana nonresident deer or elk tag can take years of preference-point accumulation or you can buy a bear tag over the counter and hunt the same public areas as you would for antlered game.

There is a catch; you have to take a simple bear-ID test to prove that you can tell the difference between black and grizzly bears, which often share the same habitats in western Montana. The other thing you should know is that bear hunting in Montana is entirely spot-and-stalk. Neither baiting nor hound hunting is legal here. Those restrictions actually improve the hunt; black bear hunting is so similar in locale and style to deer and elk hunting that a bear hunt is a great primer for hunting antlered game.

GO HERE: National forests and wilderness areas from Bozeman to Kalispell offer the best bear hunting. Specific forests include the Lewis & Clark, Flathead, and Lolo. For a directory of each forest, as well as maps showing public-land boundaries, contact the Region 1 office in Missoula, Mont.

A trophy mule deer buck tag for Arizona is one of the most coveted permits in America. But the Grand Canyon state offers abundant hunting opportunities for both mule and Coues deer for hunters who use archery gear.

Many units are open for late-season bowhunting on over-the-counter tags (OTC). And there are few better ways to escape the winter blues in the rest of the nation than spending late December and January in Arizona’s deer country. Both mule deer and Coues deer are huntable on these OTC tags, and because the season corresponds with the Coues deer rut, this is one of the best times to see numbers of the gray ghosts in the desert mountains.

Tags are reasonably priced—$160 for the nonresident hunting license plus the $300 deer tag (resident prices are $45 and $57, respectively)—and units are as varied as Arizona’s terrain. Arizona’s online hunt planner is a great way to identify open units and plan for the mix of terrain and season types that each offer for deer hunters.

GO HERE: For Coues deer, hunt the southern mountains, especially units east of Tucson and near the New Mexico border. Mule deer and Coues deer roam the units along the Mexican border east of Nogales.

With the largest elk herd in the nation, over-the-counter tags and abundant public land, Colorado is an elk-hunters’ destination. Problem is, all that opportunity can lead to frustration unless you do some solid homework and plan to hoof it to get away from access roads and the crowds they attract.

Plan on either the 2nd or 3rd rifle seasons, which run Oct. 20-28 and Nov. 3-11 this year. During these periods, snowfall isn’t too extensive, and elk are still fairly well distributed on public lands. The tough thing is that a big high-country snowfall could certainly change your plans overnight.

GO HERE: For planning, a great starting point is the state’s digital hunting atlas, which shows unit boundaries and game-management unit designations. Cross-reference that information with harvest statistics from Colorado’s Craig region, available from the Division of Parks & Wildlife’s excellent hunting guides, and you should have a good idea of where to find both public land and huntable elk.

The rest is up to you, and your gear. People assume that with over 300,000 head of elk, there’s a wapiti behind every tree. The reality is that to have consistent success in Colorado, you need the ability to hike hard, spend long days in the field, and have the flexibility to move up or down in elevation, or deeper in the backcountry, as conditions dictate.

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Photograph by Andrew McKean http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-diy-hunts-you-can-take-this-year http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-diy-hunts-you-can-take-this-year Fri, 24 May 2019 00:00:00 -0500
ATVs—Here’s How to Find The Best Riding Trails “Where can I ride my new ATV?” That’s the number one question fielded by the nation’s powersports dealers and approximately 600 ATV clubs. Sales of off-highway vehicles (OHVs), especially “side-by-side” ATVs that seat from 2 to 6 people, continue to climb.

These days, however, ATV dealers are so busy they often forget to give first-time buyers information on where they can ride their new vehicles.

Here are the top resources you can use to discover fun, scenic places to ride, including designated, signed trail systems with parking at trailheads, forest roads on state and federal lands, and private ATV parks.

You’ve come to the right place. Start your search with the map accompanying this page to find local destinations where you can go to enjoy riding off-road with friends and family.

This website displays a state-by-state list of public and private destinations for riding ATVs and side-by-sides (SxSs), as well as dirt bikes and 4WD trucks. Go to the website, tap on the state you are interested in, and you’ll discover a long list of public trails, open riding areas, private ATV parks and motocross tracks. Details for each include open/closed status, rules and regulations, trail miles, difficulty level, local services, directions, plus photos and videos submitted by riders.

Created by Polaris Industries, Ride Command home for ride planning, this website shows designated, signed ATV Trails, and legal routes on gravel roads in State and National Forests across the U.S. Create an account and log in, then click on “map” and zoom into the area you are interested in. You’ll see the legal routes and trails, and which types of off-road vehicles are allowed on them. The far-left column lists public and private riding opportunities in the area, with links to their websites for more information.

Quick tip: Stay powered up and connected! Carry spare batteries for your GPS, and a power cord to plug your mobile device into the 12v outlet or USB port of your ATV.

Used by over a half million riders, this free app displays the same trails as the Ride Command website, but it also shows your GPS location on your smart phone or tablet while you’re out riding. Download it from your app store and sign in with your email address.

Open the App at the trailhead, and you can track, name and save your rides. The App also shows the nearest locations for food, fuel, lodging and ATV dealers. Create a Group Ride, and your digital device will show where everyone in your group is located on the trail during a ride.

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) manages over 150 National Forests. Many of their Forest Roads are open to both highway-legal vehicles and off-highway vehicles. Some also have designated, signed trail systems that are open to ATVs and SxSs that are 50 inches or less in width.

National Forests print a Motorized Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) identifying those roads and trails, available at Forest Service offices. The Forest Service Interactive Travel Map is an online tool that also shows routes and trails.

In Western states, many of the public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) also have areas designated open to OHVs, in mountainous terrain, dunes and deserts. To learn more about the riding opportunities in your area, check with your nearest BLM office.

Many states have Natural Resource or Game & Fish Departments responsible for building and maintaining ATV trail systems on public lands. Minnesota, for example, has 70 trail systems open to the riding public, many managed in partnership with ATV clubs.

States vary widely in their ATV trail systems, rules and regulations. To find the riding opportunities, maps and requirements where you live, do an internet search on your computer, for “(your state) DNR ATV Trails.”

Finally, one of the best ways to discover the best ATV trails in your area is to join a local ATV club, that will take you and your family on guided rides. Ask your powersports dealer for the names of local clubs where you live.

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Photograph Courtesy of NOHVCC http://stepoutside.org/article/atvsheres-how-to-find-the-best-riding-trails http://stepoutside.org/article/atvsheres-how-to-find-the-best-riding-trails Fri, 24 May 2019 00:00:00 -0500
How to Choose Your First Handgun—Step Outside The term “handgun” covers a lot of ground, from easy-to-conceal pocket pistols to specialty single-shots designed for hunting big game. In between there are, literally, hundreds of handgun models to choose from. With so many choices, it’s not surprising that those in the market to purchase their first handgun get confused.

Trying to wade through all of the pluses and minuses can be daunting, so we’ve made choosing your first handgun easy. Here’s how the two most popular handgun designs break down and how they might best fit your preferences.

The revolver is the oldest repeating handgun design still in use. It has a cylinder with multiple chambers to hold the cartridges. The cylinder rotates on a central pin to align each of these chambers in turn with the barrel to fire the cartridge.

Revolvers typically are more accurate (on average) than semi-auto handguns. They are tough, durable and all but trouble free. They are also the most reliable repeating handguns because they don’t jam (something that can happen with semi-auto designs). Revolvers are also the simplest handguns to learn to shoot and operate safely.

Revolvers come in a long list of available cartridges, starting with the .22 LR rimfire and ending with fire-breathing cartridges like the .500 S&W. They work best with rimmed cartridges, but can be used with rimless cases by using adapters to hold the cartridges. Revolvers offer the most powerful cartridges of any repeating handgun. That means they are the best choice for handgun hunting big game and for protection against large predators such as bears.

There are two basic revolver designs, single action and double action.

The single action is the cowboy gun; the one John Wayne used in all his western movies. It’s the older design, dating back to Colt’s first repeating handguns in 1836. The single action requires that the hammer be manually cocked each time the gun is fired. Most single actions are very slow to load as they use a swinging gate that exposes only one chamber in the cylinder. The cylinder must be rotated, and each chamber loaded one at a time. This can become an issue in a self-defense handgun where the ability to reload quickly is important.

The single-action revolver is considered the most reliable design. It is also chambered for the widest range of powerful cartridges. While the single action is offered in popular cartridges like the .22 LR, .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum and .45 Colt, you can also find them in beast mode cartridges like .470 Linbaugh or .500 Wyoming Express. Many believe that the grip design for the single action makes handling the recoil of these dragon slaying cartridges easier than with other handgun designs.

With a few exceptions, most single-action revolvers are full-size handguns.

The double action is Dirty Harry’s gun. It was the choice for police for decades before being replaced by the semi-auto starting in the late eighties.

The double-action revolver can be fired by cocking the hammer, just like the single action. This provides the light, short trigger pull, which is best for precision shooting. It can also be fired by simply pulling the trigger, which is called “double action.” Pulling the trigger rotates the cylinder and cocks the hammer before firing at the end of the trigger stoke. This will result in a long, hard trigger pull, but it’s faster for follow up shots.

Traditionally the double-action revolver will open by swinging the cylinder out on a pivot, to expose all of the chambers. This allows you to unload all of them at the same time. It also allows reloading all chambers at the same time if you use a device called a “speed loader.” Those shooters who choose a revolver for a self-defense handgun almost universally pick a double-action model.

Until Smith & Wesson introduced their big revolvers in .500 S&W and .460 S&W the double action was not chambered for cartridges as powerful as the single action. Today that gap has closed. The most popular double action revolver cartridges include .22 LR, .38 Special, .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum.

Double-action handguns range in size from a pocket-size snub-nose through the huge guns that house the blaster cartridges. The small frame, snub-nose revolvers are easy to carry concealed, but are difficult to shoot. As always, the middle range of revolver size is usually the best option. That is a medium frame with a 4- to 6-inch barrel. Short barrels are easy to carry in a holster while the longer barrels provide a longer sight radius and a bit more velocity.

A first-time shooter might do well to look at one of the many .357 Magnum revolvers. These guns can also handle the milder .38 Special cartridge for lower recoil when practicing.

Photograph Courtesy of Howard Communications
Single-action semi-autos, like this 1911-380 from Browning, cock the hammer after the first shot and provide a light, short trigger pull.

Semi-Auto

The semi-auto handgun has been around since the late 1800s. In recent years it has dominated in the market.

The typical semi-auto handgun uses a removable magazine that fits into the grip. It will fire each time you pull the trigger, until the magazine is empty. Often called “self-loading,” the energy from the fired cartridge is used to cycle the action. This ejects the empty cartridge, cocks the gun and feeds a new cartridge from the magazine into the chamber. The gun can be reloaded very quickly by replacing the empty magazine with a fully loaded magazine.

Semi-auto handguns work best with rimless cartridges and can be chambered in a very wide range of cartridges from .22 LR rimfire through the .50 AE. The most popular are .22 LR, 9mm, .45 ACP, .380 ACP and .40 S&W probably in that order.

Photograph Courtesy of Smith & Wesson
Semi-autos, like the M&P 380 Shield E-Z, have a larger magazine capacity than revolvers and can quickly be reloaded by simply dropping the empty magazine and inserting another that is fully loaded.

Semi-auto handguns are considered to be a bit less reliable than revolvers and a bit less accurate, although the gap on both of these issues has closed in recent years. They are also a little tougher to learn to operate than a revolver.

There are several common types of semi-autos. The single action, the 1911 design for example, cocks the hammer and provides a light, short trigger pull.

Double-action-only and hammer-fired handguns use energy applied to the trigger to cock the hammer and fire the gun. This results in a long, hard trigger pull. Some believe this is safer, even though it reduces the shooter’s ability to shoot the gun accurately.

Double-action/single-action semi-autos use a double-action trigger pull for the first shot and then automatically switch to single action for any remaining shots.

The Glock all is the best example of a striker-fired semi-auto handgun design. Striker-fired does not have an external hammer and instead uses an internal striker that is in line with the firing pin and is activated by the trigger. This results in a trigger pull that is somewhere in between the single-action and double-action trigger. A striker-fired trigger will typically be about half the length of travel and pull weight of a double-action semi-auto handgun trigger.

The two most popular designs of semi-auto handguns are single action and striker-fired. Of the two, striker-fired is the best seller. That is probably due primarily to price. Glock pioneered the use of molded polymer (plastic) in handgun frames and most striker-fired handguns use this manufacturing process. As a result, the prices of striker-fired handguns are considerably lower than a high quality machined metal handgun. The striker-fired handgun, usually in 9mm, is likely the most popular handgun for a new shooter. They are an excellent choice for target shooting as well as self-defense. Popular 9mm ammunition is readily available and generally less expensive than many other handgun loads.

The size of semi-auto handguns ranges from full size through micro. Full-size models are usually easier to shoot due to their extra weight, which helps to dampen recoil. However, they can be heavy to carry in a holster. At the other end of the spectrum are the micro semi-autos, which are popular because they are very easy to carry. A micro .380 Auto will fit in a pocket easily, but they are difficult to shoot accurately, and ammo is far more expensive compared to, say, 9mm loads.

The smaller subcompacts are easy to carry and are a good choice for concealed carry. They are tougher to shoot with and are not as much fun at the range due to the increased felt recoil from the smaller handguns.

Most shooters will find the middle ground suits them well. The medium pistols, often called “compact” size, provide an excellent balance for easy carry and accurate shooting and are a good option for a first handgun.

No matter which design you pick, any “brand name” handgun today will be among the finest ever produced. Modern manufacturing techniques have resulted in high quality at an affordable price. There has never been a better time to join the millions of handgun shooters enjoying this exciting and challenging sport.

Photograph Courtesy of Kimber Mfg., Inc.
Kimber's K6, is chambered in the powerful .357 Magnum cartridge, but it is also compatible with milder .38 Special loads to reduce recoil, making it a good choice for those looking for a compact revolver.
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Photograph Courtesy of Glock, Inc. http://stepoutside.org/article/how-to-choose-your-first-handgunstep-outside http://stepoutside.org/article/how-to-choose-your-first-handgunstep-outside Fri, 24 May 2019 00:00:00 -0500
How to Charge Your Gadgets While Camping and Hiking There once was a time when carrying electronic devices with us into the great outdoors was pretty much unthinkable. Fragile and expensive, such devices offered few benefits to campers and backpackers, especially those interested in going ultralight. But times have changed and now it is not uncommon to take a host of gadgets with us when hitting the trail or simply car camping for the weekend with the family. Everything from smartphones and tablets, to headlamps and GPS trackers are powered by rechargeable batteries these days and keeping them functioning can be a real challenge.

Fortunately, there are now a number of great solutions available for charging our electronic equipment while on the go. So, whether you’re heading out for just the day or for weeks at a time, these are the best ways to prevent your devices from running out of juice and becoming nothing more than dead weight in your pack.

Even if you’re just going out for day hike, it is always a good idea to take a portable battery pack with you just in case. Sometimes you find yourself hiking for far longer than you expected and the last thing you want is for your smartphone or rechargeable headlamp to die on you just when you need it most.

There are literally dozens of compact battery packs to choose from, but if you’re going to be spending a considerable amount of time in the outdoors, you’ll want one that is rugged and built to withstand the elements. 

Lifeproof’s LifeActive Power Pack ($79.99) fits that description nicely, offering enough power to recharge an iPhone more than three times and featuring a durable case that is both water and drop-proof. The LifeActive includes a quick-charging USB port for rapid refills and bright LED lights that allow it to be used as a flashlight or emergency flasher, too. 

Quick Tip: Cold conditions can kill rechargeable batteries very quickly. To help prevent this from happening, keep your smartphone and other devices in an inner pocket inside your jacket during the day or in the foot of your sleeping bag at night when temperatures take a plunge.

 

If you are camping or traveling for a few days at a time, a higher capacity battery pack is likely in order. On longer getaways you’re more likely to be carrying extra electronic gear with you, such as a camera, GPS device, or Bluetooth speaker. You’ll also need to keep your smartphone running for extended periods of time too, which can be a challenge in and of itself. 

The RAVPower Exclusives Solar Power Bank ($52.99) stores enough energy to recharge a smartphone as many as ten times and it comes with a built-in flashlight too. It is also dust, drop, and waterproof, has multiple USB in and out ports for rapid recharging, and is equipped with its own solar panel to help keep its internal battery topped off as well.

An extended camping trip lasting a week or longer could involve a considerable amount of electronic gear. Not only will smartphones, cameras, and GPS devices be a part of the mix, but tablets, laptops, and even drones may come along for the journey too.

In those circumstances, you’ll need a much larger power source, typically moving away from compact battery packs in favor of portable power stations instead. What these devices lack in portability they make up for with batteries that are much higher in capacity. They’ll also offer more options when it comes to charging ports too.

The Jackery Explorer 240 ($230) is a great choice when choosing this type of portable power station, bringing a nice mix of size, capacity, and charging options. With 240 watt-hour of battery life it can recharge an iPhone more than 15 times, or a laptop as many as 2-4 times.

And since it features an AC wall outlet built right in, it can be used to power just about anything, from LCD televisions to small appliances. It also includes two quick-charging USB ports and a 12-volt DC port too. On top; of that, it can even be recharged in the field using Jackery’s 50-watt solar panel

Quick Tip: To get maximum efficiency from a solar panel, lay the device flat and in direct sunlight. You may have to adjust its position throughout the day to collect as much light as possible.

 

For those who spend extended periods of time in the backcountry and need power in a base camp setting, a larger power station is likely in order. Not only will you need more capacity, you’ll definitely want more charging ports and outlets too.

Compatibility with a solar panel is a must too since you’ll need a way to recharge the power station over an extended period of time. With the right set-up, you could theoretically stay off the grid indefinitely and keep your electronic gear charged the entire time. 

For these long-term needs, Goal Zero’s Yeti 1000 Lithium is the perfect choice. Not only does it offer more than 1000-watt hours of power, but it includes two AC wall outlets, a 12-volt DC port, and four USB ports, all in a package that weighs just 40 pounds. It is also compatible with the company’s Boulder 100-watt portable solar panel for convenient charging anywhere. 

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Photograph by Kraig Becker Keeping your electronic devices charged in the backcountry is easier than ever thanks to portable power banks like these. http://stepoutside.org/article/how-to-charge-your-gadgets-while-camping-and-hiking http://stepoutside.org/article/how-to-charge-your-gadgets-while-camping-and-hiking Fri, 24 May 2019 00:00:00 -0500
10 Best Hiking Tours in America Picture it: Your backpack is loaded with everything you need for a few hours or a few days in the great outdoors. There’s nothing standing between you and the wilderness. And getting lost is the furthest thing from your mind because you’ve got an expert hiking guide leading the way. Hiking tours let you experience the world from a whole new perspective, and here’s where you can find the best ones in the U.S.

This three-day backpacking tour takes you to one of the greatest wonders of the Grand Canyon: Havasu Falls. You’ll have a full day to explore Havasupai’s turquoise waters and plenty of scenic waterfalls. The tour package includes your tour guide, food, transportation, and most of your gear.

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This half-day guided hike is every bit as adventure-packed as you could want! Along with the stunning scenery and iconic landmarks of Arches National Park, you’ll see 100-million-year-old dinosaur tracks and get insider information on the interpretive walks. The minimum age for this tour is five, so expect an easy, family-friendly tour.

Wildland Trekking offers a stunning 4-5-day hike that takes you to some of Yellowstone’s most scenic wonders. From meadows to river valleys to Mount Sheridan and the Snake River hot springs, every day is a new adventure in itself. This is one of the best ways to see Yellowstone wildlife in all its glory, including bears, wolves, elk, moose, coyotes, fox, and birdlife. 

Explore some of Hawaii’s hidden gems in this family-friendly water-and-land adventure. Kayak through a once-sacred valley, then begin your hike through the rainforest to reach the Secret Falls.  

The Appalachian Trail slices right through the Great Smoky Mountains, and this tour takes you along an eight-mile portion. At the highest point, you’ll get a feel for just how expansive the mountains are, with 360-degree views of wilderness as far as the eye can see. 

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The Lost Coast is a major stretch of unspoiled California shoreline, and it’s as breathtaking as you can imagine. The remoteness is a far cry from the rest of the state and makes going off the grid all the more enjoyable. This tour takes you over black sand beaches, low tide zones, rich forests, and coastal mountains over the course of six days.

This six-day adventure hike from OARS follows the Wild and Scenic Rogue River, one of the most beloved hiking destinations in the country. This tour is raft-supported, meaning you can rely on river rafts to carry your gear as you travel high and dry on land. You’ll eat and camp with waterfront views and soak in 360 degrees of nature for your entire trip.

This five-day tour has been carefully curated to highlight some of the most amazing natural sights and formations in southern Utah. A basecamp-style trip, you can expect to visit famous icons like the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, and Angels Landing. Hot showers and fresh-cooked meals make this one hard to pass up.

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Offering private trips, day hikes, and backpacking trips throughout the Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Adirondacks, you will be in good hands traveling with 360 Guiding. The private guided adventure allows hikers to choose from any of the offered destinations. The 3-5-hour hike features an experienced guide who is both first aid and CPR certified. 

If you’re having trouble deciding which of Utah’s amazing national parks to visit, this hiking tour combines the mighty five into a single trip. Zion, Bryce, Arches, Capitol Reef, and Canyonland are on the agenda in this five-day, four night tour, along with several state parks, hot showers, and home-cooked meals.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-hiking-tours-in-america http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-hiking-tours-in-america Wed, 01 May 2019 00:00:00 -0500
10 Best Kayaking Tours in the U.S. Kayaking tours bring you closer to some of nature's most amazing wonders—sights you wouldn't otherwise be able to experience from land. From exploring saltwater marshes to finding hidden waterfalls and hiking trails, you never know what you might discover next. Beginners and seasoned paddlers alike can explore the world from a different perspective with these 10 best kayaking tours in the U.S.

Oahu has become synonymous with eco-adventures and no trip to the island is complete without stepping off land and embarking on a water-filled journey. Their kayak tours take place in picturesque He’eia State Park, featuring beautiful mountain backdrops and crystal blue water. Book a professionally-guided kayak and snorkel tour, or make your adventure!

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The diverse wildlife you’ll discover on this epic adventure is reason enough to join a tour. Groups are small so you can get the most from your experience. Leopard sharks and sea lions call the area home, as well as other marine life in four unique environments.

Florida’s oldest city is a treasure trove of curiosities on and in the water. You might just encounter some of its famous wildlife, including dolphins, manatees, and sea turtles on your adventure. If you have beginners in your group or you're traveling with family, try their Dolphin Experience tour. To see everything from monkeys to alligators, check out the Silver Springs State Park Wildlife Tour. 

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Maui is brimming with Hawaiian sea life and your kayak will take you closer than ever to see it all! Tour guests have reported snorkeling with turtles and seeing gorgeous reef fish that make every moment of this tour magical.

Whether you want a quiet paddling experience along the smooth saltwater marshes or you prefer seeing manatees and other marine life, you’ve got plenty of kayak tours to choose from with Savannah Canoe and Kayak. They offer half-day and full-day tours to give you as much adventure as you can handle.

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Kayak is the best way to explore the geological wonders of Glen Canyon and Lake Powell. The tour company offers a variety of tours for paddlers of all skill levels, with some tours combining paddling with hiking and even camping!

The 45-mile stretch of Labyrinth Canyon is a sight to behold. This multi-day guided paddling trip offers plenty of time for camping and hiking to give your paddling arms a break.

Key West is brimming with ecological discoveries that you can only experience via kayak. Tour guides teach you all the basics of paddling so don’t let a lack of experience scare you off. Cruise through mangroves, see Key West wildlife, and even fish straight from your kayak!

One of Mount Pleasant's most beloved tour companies offers a variety of kayaking tours through its famed marshlands. From sunset adventures to dolphin watching to combination kayak-and-hiking tours on Bull Island, there’s something for every interest and skill level.

Napa Valley isn’t just wine country—it’s also an opportunity to explore its diverse river life! Join the River History Tour and get a history lesson while you paddle past the area’s most scenic sites. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-kayaking-tours-in-the-us http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-kayaking-tours-in-the-us Wed, 01 May 2019 00:00:00 -0500