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.
XZone strives to keep teenagers active and engaged with a lineup of afterschool activities for all interests. Tae kwon do and judo instructors lead self-defense classes that teach patience and confidence, and referees keep paintball matches running smoothly on five large fields riddled with obstacles. Field names such as Spools, Smart Boxes, and Speedball clue players in to types of play. Kids learn how to coax melodies out of guitars and other instruments during 30-minute music lessons that teach fundamentals and more advanced techniques for students playing drums upside down for Mötley Crüe. Those with an itch for friendly indoor competition can head to XZone's game room or calm their hunger pangs with a bite from the café. The center balances sports with scholastic assistance for students in grades 6–12 with onsite tutoring services and a computer lab.
Teachers and doctors. Moms and sisters. The River City Rollergirls don't really care who you are, as long as you're ready to hit someone—and foster an environment that values diversity and gender equity in the process.
The skater- and volunteer-operated league sprouted in early 2006 as Richmond's first all-women's flat-track roller-derby association. At the start, the league featured just two teams—Poe's Punishers and the Uncivil Warriors—but has since expanded to include new members, including the Carytown Cadets, the Hollywood Undertakers, and the Jackson Wardens. All teams take falls and crack skulls as part of the Eastern region of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association. But off the track, players put away their growling game faces when participating in community-outreach programs.