My OL: Meet Miss Kansas

Sadly she won't be able to shoot her bow onstage during the talent portion of Sunday's Miss America Pageant, but Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail earned Outdoor Life's rooting interest when she recently sat down with us to talk about her favorite pastime--hunting. Outdoor Life: Why beauty pageants? Theresa Vail: I like breaking down stereotypes. I wanted to show people that a tomboy could compete [in pageants]. I knew if I did it and I won, I'd have the opportunity to be a role model for young women who need one--a positive role model with a good moral compass, not Kim Kardashian.
OL: Why didn't pageant officials let you demonstrate archery as your talent? TV: They compared it to flaming batons and said it was too much of a liability issue. I tried to tell them that I've never missed anything I've shot at, but they weren't having it. So I sang opera instead.
OL: What do the other pageant girls think of your hunting and shooting hobbies? TV: They love it. They've never been exposed to somebody like me in the pageant arena, but they've all been open to it, and some of them even want to try it. I would love to take them hunting or shooting someday.
OL: Are you worried that winning would interfere with your hunting season? TV: Since I'm getting so much media attention over hunting, I'm actually hoping that some outfitters will take me out [if I win]. Miss America is absolutely accepting of hunting. In fact, they said that they've never had such a large audience in the demographic that I'm bringing in.
OL: What's your take on pink hunting gear? TV: I absolutely hate it. What I actually want to say is probably not appropriate for your magazine. It makes it seem like the standard is being lowered for girls. I just think that hunting gear and guns are so badass, and if you turn them pink, it makes them soft. You lose that edge. And, it's supposed to be camouflage! Pink is not camo!
OL: What do rifle competitions and beauty pageants have in common? TV: You need confidence in both of them. In pageants, there's so much pressure when you know you have thousands of eyes on you, it's easy to blank out. Just like buck fever, it's a huge adrenaline rush. So learn to deal with the pressure, stay composed, and just breathe through it--that's key.
OL: How do we get more women involved in hunting and shooting? TV: It starts at an early age. Girls need to be involved in the outdoors at the elementary-school level. It's getting better, though. Sports like hunting and shooting instill a sense of independence and confidence in young girls. And because girls are becoming more independent--and moms and dads want their girls to become more independent--I think we're turning a corner.