The Able Outdoors Story
Our journey began in 2013 when Chad reached out to Ashlee to write a story for his magazine about her first bull elk hunt. And as with so many people that he knows these days, he’d seen her name many times on the internet circles he was in, so Chad had a pretty good idea that Ashlee was someone he needed to find out more about. They exchanged emails and phone calls and developed a working relationship over the next few years as Ashlee wrote articles and Chad edited them for several magazines he was working on at the time.
Crazy enough, the two didn’t actually meet in person until SHOT Show in 2017 in Las Vegas. By this time, they’d worked on several projects together and had become good friends. That fall, Chad headed up to Wyoming for some bird hunting with Ashlee and some friends from the Wyoming Disabled Hunters organization, and their adventures have continued ever since
Chad and Ashlee have each had their own breakthrough moments when they realized that people with disabilities needed better representation in the outdoors.
About 15 years ago, Chad was lucky enough to win an antelope hunt in New Mexico through Buckmasters where he ended up taking a B&C class goat in the famed Gila National Forest. When he got home, he excitedly wrote a story about his trip that got published in Rack Magazine, his first ever as an outdoor writer. That was the moment when he thought about how much harder it is for ‘disabled’ hunters to get their stories into mainstream media, and that made it all the more important to him to share his outdoor adventures with the world.
“Back in the 80’s, the internet was still a baby so there wasn’t much to be found in the way of disabled hunting. There’s a lot more of it today, of course, but it’s still can be hard to find. Able Outdoors is hopefully going to solve this problem.” – C.W.
In 2013, after winning the title of Ms. Wheelchair USA, Ashlee was given the opportunity to travel around the country speaking about her passion for accessible outdoor recreation. She quickly realized that many outdoor businesses and organizations didn’t realize they were missing out on an opportunity to market to an underrepresented group – outdoor enthusiasts with a disability. At that moment, Ashlee knew she had to do everything in her power to break the boundaries and blaze a trail for inclusion and awareness, for everyone. Whether it be through product development, education, company partnerships or peer mentoring, she believes Able Outdoors is going to be a platform for amazing opportunities in the outdoors (and beyond).
“Sometimes all you need to be encouraged to try something new is seeing someone like you doing that very thing. I’m excited for Chad and me to have the opportunity to show people what is possible when you are given the equipment, opportunity and support you need. Hopefully, we can help others find the healing and adventure we’ve discovered in the outdoors and in our everyday lives.” – A.L.
Ashlee & Chad are both past SCI Foundation Pathfinder Award winners and both love sharing information about the different kinds of adaptive equipment available and helping fellow able sportsmen & women get back afield for any type of recreation. Thanks to a recommendation from Ashlee, they both currently serve on the NRA’s Disabled Shooting Sports committee.
Able Outdoors will be a reference for the able sportsman, their family members, and the professionals working in all types of therapeutic programs. “We want to show people who think they can’t that they can. To show them where to go, how to do it, who to do it with, what equipment they’ll need and how to find it. We want to reach those who have been lost and forgotten or been recently injured.” – C.W.
“If you like to see accessible outdoor adventures and you enjoy learning more about staying active, regardless of your ability level, you’re going to want to stick around! We’ll be tackling year-round experiences, including sharing more about our every-day lives and what it is like living life from a wheelchair. Stay tuned!” – A.L.