From the outside, fly-fishing looks like an art form, with anglers harnessing the flowing, lasso-like cast framed by tree-lined mountainsides and a rock-strewn stream. But for Andrew Stiles, a fly-fisherman with more than 40 years of experience on waters around the world, a wealth of technical details supersedes this romanticized image—the physics of casting line that weighs more than the lure, the entomology of matching flies with the season's insects, the leverage required to land a 150-pound tarpon on 12-pound tackle.
This passion for both teaching and fly-fishing drives Andrew to impart his knowledge by instructing anglers all over the world. Locally, he teaches classes at John Tyler Community College and Randolph-Macon College with a curriculum modeled on the teachings of George Harvey, who developed the first accredited college fly-fishing course at Penn State in 1947. Andrew's international teaching experience includes instructing at the Euroclave Federation of Fly Fishing / Danish Fly Fishing Festival in Denmark, as well as virtually coaching clients as far away as Australia through Skype. He also develops tailored video lessons and posts a YouTube series for beginners. Throughout all of this, Andrew upholds the high standards of a fly-casting instructor certified through outdoor organizations such as the Federation of Fly Fishers.
When not teaching, Andrew travels the world, applying his tactics—such as his specialty in the double-haul method—to waters that range from the mangrove flats of Florida to the trout streams in England. “If you’re fishing for trout, you’re going to be in some of the most pristine waters in the world,” he says. An expert in fly tackle, he can also appraise antique fly outfits unearthed from attics, basements, and the forgotten prop storage units of A River Runs Through It.
Located on the bank of the foliage-lined James River, Kayak Richmond offers kayaking instruction and guided tours in the river’s diverse water conditions. Beginner’s kayaking lessons stick to the river’s more placid stretches, giving first-time paddlers a safe environment in which to learn the basics. Tours, meanwhile, are led by Kayak Richmond’s team of experienced kayakers, who guide groups through gentle whitewater, rapids, and portages on trips up to five hours long.
Praised in the Richmond Times-Dispatch for designing a 60,000-square-foot facility that resembles a country club as much as a shooting range, the owners of Colonial Shooting Academy strive to "capitalize on the social aspects of recreational shooting." The multilevel shooting range's 32 glass-paneled booths turn target shooting into a community experience. The range also hosts classes for every experience level, from the NRA FIRST Steps Pistol Orientation to a tactical-training program for law enforcement. At the academy’s gun shop, which resembles a high-end sporting-goods store, a gunsmith is on hand for repairs and a gun vault lets guests store their arms and their diaries. Facilities further extend to Mosaic Café Express, where chefs turn local, seasonal ingredients into dishes on their ever-changing menu.
For frequent guests, the academy offers membership options. The constitution membership, for example, grants privileges such as seven private shooting lanes and access to the lounge that sports leather couches, a pool table, and a fireplace below a flat-screen television that displays a digital fireplace.
Like Superman's secret North Pole fortress, SkateNation Plus brings the excitement with lasers, arcade games, and 17,000 square feet of glassy ice worth gliding upon. Its regulation NHL–size rink serves as a venue for public skating sessions, in addition to figure-skating lessons, hockey games, and ice-dancing performances. More than 40 games in its onsite arcade whir with a flurry of tickets, and a full spectrum of prizes awaits quick-handed winners at the redemption counter. During laser-tag sessions, the Lasertron computer spontaneously upgrades players with such power-ups as "energizer" or "force field," which protects against enemy blasts more effectively than a lead vest or full-length mirror.
In 2011, the VCU Rams athletics program emerged under the national spotlight's brightest bulbs when the men's basketball team advanced to the NCAA Final Four as an 11-seed. But while their Cinderella story may have made VCU a household name and bedtime story for sports-loving children, it is hardly the only instance of Rams' athletic success. A perennial powerhouse on the tennis court, the men's program has raked in 16 conference championships and eight All-America selections while spending 17 straight years in the ITA top-25. Members of the Atlantic 10 Conference since 2012, the Rams don their black-and-gold uniforms to proudly represent their university at a number of fan-friendly facilities.