By Jennifer Lane, Hardin County Independent
Alli Armstrong videoed her sister, Adriana Armstrong, shooting the “Heartbeat” 11 point buck during a southern Illinois hunt in 2015. The hunt will be shown on Episode 5 of “Grace, Camo and Lace”.
Sisters Alli Armstrong, 19, and Adriana Armstrong, 14, of Elizabethtown, IL are the stars of the new hunting show, “Grace, Camo and Lace” that first aired on the Sportsman Channel Monday, December 26, 2016. The program features Alli and Adriana through realistic hunts of various big-game species across the United States and British Columbia. The show is the product of much hard work and dedication over the years through true and realistic hunts that were introduced to the girls by their parents at home right here in Hardin County.
It all began about 14 years ago when Alli’s dad, Darrick Armstrong, took her on her first hunt. Alli’s love for hunting began around age 5. Little sister Adriana was next in line and loved the hunts too. Before long mom was on board, and it became a family affair. Darrick and Susan videotaped the girls’ hunts and found that it was such an enjoyable and memorable time together. Susan commented saying, “Some of our best conversations (as a family) have been in the turkey blinds. We just sit and giggle – might not kill a turkey though.”
They produced DVDs that were sold locally with the brand “Armstrongs Outdoors DVD Productions”. Alli really took the hunting seriously and by sharing her videos with others, she realized that her experiences were inspiring others to get out and try hunting too. This sparked an idea with her mom and she began doing some research online.
“It just felt like the thing to do,” Susan said, “I contacted Brenda Potts and told her about Alli’s interest and desire for hunting.” Brenda was the developer of Midwest Legacy Marketing and the director of marketing for SHE Safari. Susan was impressed by the way that Brenda promoted women in hunting and felt like that would be the right direction for Alli if they decided to take that path.
The Armstrong Family (2012): Darrick Armstrong with wife Susan and daughters, Alli and Adriana. — Tonya Conn photo.
Surprisingly, Brenda returned a call to the Armstrongs and a wonderful relationship began to develop. Alli was able to express her desire to not only hunt, but share her experiences with others to inspire them to do the same. Over time, Brenda took Alli in as an intern and became her mentor giving her tips on how to get involved in the hunting industry.
Alli soon became a pro-staff member on the SHE Safari program “SHE’s Beyond the Lodge”. Since she was so young and unable to fit into the women’s sizing, the company made custom clothing just for her!
After work there, Alli and family first appeared on the Sportsman Channel on the program Legacy Trails. The program followed three families, including the Armstrongs, airing for three seasons and was an informative hunting show.
With SHE Safari pro-staff experience and one season of Legacy Trails under her belt, Alli received the opportunity to co-author the book, “Hunting Dream Jobs” with Brenda. In the book, Alli interviewed 100 people in the hunting industry detailing their interesting journey to the industry and a great tool for people like her who have an interest in entering this industry, but are unsure of the path.
Among many other opportunities, Alli began to write for North American Whitetail Magazine. She continues to receive assignments and write articles for the magazine.
Brenda also helped Alli and family make a brand name to get her hunting-themed jewelry business rolling. Alli wanted the name to be meaningful emphasizing important things to her, but also had to be related to hunting and the fact that she loved being a girl. After many text messages back and forth, Brenda and the Armstrongs secured the name, “Grace, Camo and Lace”. As Alli put it, “First and foremost, ‘Grace’ for the grace and love of God and family; ‘Camo’ for the hunt; and ‘Lace’ because they are girls and love style.”
“Grace, Camo and Lace” has now transformed into a television production. Alli and Adriana’s dad, Darrick, is the production team. He is the executive producer, videographer, editor, and applies graphics and wording to the videos. He has studied long and hard with success to follow a thick book of guidelines set by the Sportsman Channel. Both Susan and Darrick have helped the girls video, but now the girls are taking it on, more and more, by themselves. According to her mother, Adriana is good with technology, and Susan said she could see her taking on more of the production and editing as time goes on. The family is learning, growing, and transforming through this process with the support of each other.
To make the program even more family oriented and unique, Alli and Adriana’s Aunt Rhonda Belford wrote a song called “Bloodline” that the family chose as the theme song to “Grace, Camo and Lace”. The song is about the Armstrong family legacy, hunting, and how their grandpa began working in the fluorspar mines. The song plays in part at the opening and the closing of the show.
Adriana Armstrong not only hunts, but also videos her family’s hunts.
Each one in the Armstrong family has a full plate. Darrick works as a carpenter at Illinois Youth Center and Susan is a full-time high school math teacher at Hardin County High School. Adriana is a freshman at Hardin County High School. She is in various clubs and shoots for the Hardin County School Archery Team. She has been a guest shooter for the Southeastern Illinois College team. Even though her score could not be counted for the college team, Adriana shot a score during the national championship that would have placed her in the All-American category. Adriana is also the youngest hunter on record to harvest a turkey “Grand Slam”.
Alli is working on an online bachelor’s degree in public relations and has already achieved two associates degrees through Southeastern Illinois College. She continues to complete additional certificates and shoots for its archery team already achieving the designation as a national 3D Archery Champion in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association not once, but twice. Recently, Alli learned that she has been chosen to receive the “Young Hunter of the Year” award from Safari Club International chosen by the World Wide Hunting Organization. Alli will officially receive the award this February in Las Vegas, NV.
Alli Armstrong with her 10 point southern Illinois buck. This hunt that will be featured in Episode 3. (Filmed in 2013)
What drives the Armstrong girls’ hard work? They say it’s promoting what they love. Their goal intended is to encourage anyone to give hunting a try – people of any age, kids, women!
Not only is the Armstrong family promoting hunting, but they are doing their part to promote southern Illinois nationwide. Each week on “Grace, Camo and Lace” the girls have a segment called “By the Byway”. Through partnership and sponsorship by the Ohio River Scenic Byway, the girls tell a little story and feature local areas and events that might draw hunters or others interested to the area. Some of the places covered so far have been Kincaid Mounds, Saline Pioneer Village, Hardin County Fluorspar Festival and American Fluorite Museum, the Bike Trails, and the Shawneetown Bank.
Adriana Armstrong filming her sister Alli Armstrong during a bear hunt in British Columbia, Canada. Both girls got a bear and this hunt will be featured in Episode 10. (Filmed in 2016)
To watch the Armstrong family hunt white tail deer, mule deer, elk, bear, mountain lion, and antelope – just to name a few -stay tuned to the Sportsman Channel to see “Grace, Camo and Lace” 4 p.m. Mondays, and also at 2 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Saturdays. The Sportsman Channel is 395 on Dish and 605 on Direct TV.
You may also follow “Grace, Camo and Lace” on Facebook or visit 4ArmstrongsOutdoors on You Tube.
Alli and Adriana are the granddaughters of Mary Anne and Ronnie Armstrong; Michele and Bill Tinault; Marlene Lewis and the late Wayman Lewis.
Read this story in the January 5, 2017 edition of the Hardin County Independent!
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