To Kim Bruffy, shooting a shotgun has a lot in common with her typical day at the office.
A business development director for Kahler Slater, a Milwaukee-based architecture firm that recently opened an office in Shockoe Slip, Bruffy says her pastime of choice is comparable to her work hunting down new clients for the company.
“It mimics my work life in some ways,” Bruffy said during a recent target practice.
“Since I do business development and I’m always looking for new work and chasing projects, I feel like this is immediate gratification, because you chase and accomplish. It’s very quick,” Bruffy said. “Sometimes in the work world it can take years to get to that point that you win the project.”
Over the past several years, Bruffy has won the camaraderie of a group of female shooters called G.R.I.T.S., short for “Girls Really Into Shooting.” Led by Elizabeth Lanier-Fennell of locally based Lanier Shooting Sports, the group guides women and girls into the sport and organizes shooting and hunting trips across the country and abroad.
Bruffy, a Virginia Tech grad and Louisa native who grew up in Richmond, joined the group after taking lessons from Lanier-Fennell, who started her business in Goochland County before moving it to the Old Forge Sporting Clays shooting range in New Kent County.
In addition to leading G.R.I.T.S., which boasts more than 300 members in eight chapters across the country, Lanier-Fennell provides clinics and corporate team-building sessions while also teaching lessons for individual clients – including, she said, several local CEOs. Groups she has worked with include BB&T, Commonwealth Real Estate, Commonwealth Club, and a shooting group called D.O.G.S., or “Distinguished Old Gentlemen Shooters.”
Bruffy took up the sport after signing up her husband for some shooting classes at The Homestead resort for his 40th birthday.
“I thought he was going to like shooting. He liked it, but I loved it,” she said.
The gun club owner there connected her with Lanier-Fennell, and Bruffy joined the Virginia G.R.I.T.S. chapter, which today totals about 60 women.
“It’s just a great group of women. There’s a nice camaraderie and support,” Bruffy said. “It’s not a competitive group. Not everybody’s a great shot, but everybody supports each other.
“It’s interesting the transformation that happens to women who get into the group and do start shooting,” she said. “There’s this level of self-confidence that happens and empowerment.”
In her case, Bruffy said the hobby has been more of a source of gratification that she carries over to and balances with her work life. Most recently with HKS Architects in Shockoe Bottom, Bruffy had stints at Marcellus Wright Cox Architects, KSA Interiors and the University of Richmond before joining Kahler Slater nearly two years ago as associate principal and national director of business development–healthcare.
“I’ve always been pretty independent and confident, but I’d never known the sport. It gave me a venue to be able to express that,” Bruffy said.
“I love the chase. There’s nothing better than watching that little orange (clay) target go by and watching it blow up, and the gunpowder smell afterwards.”
Bruffy owns her own shotgun – a Browning Citori 12-gauge over/under, which she shoots at Old Forge Sporting Clays with Lanier-Fennell’s guidance. She also has a 20-gauge for bird hunting, she said.
Having graduated from skeet shooting and clay-target practice, Bruffy has taken part in several G.R.I.T.S.-organized hunts, including a pheasant hunt in Montana, a quail hunt and a duck hunt – experiences she said she is coming to terms with.
“I’m an animal lover,” she said. “I was like, ‘I don’t think I can do this.’ I think the jury’s still out on how I detach a little bit from that, but I love the experience.”
For anyone who wouldn’t think of picking up a gun, Bruffy recommends it – especially to businesses looking for a different type of team-building exercise.
While she doesn’t bring the sport to the office per se, Bruffy said she has brought some of her clients to the shooting range.
“I find it’s a great sport for client activities,” Bruffy said. “We did a corporate event for a client and had Elizabeth come out, and we did a day of teambuilding with Sporting Clays. It was a great way to get to know clients and for them to get out of the office and have fun.”
Watch Kim Bruffy shoot her shotgun during target practice with Elizabeth Lanier-Fennell:
This is the latest entry in our Downtime series, which focuses on business people’s pursuits outside the office. If you, a coworker or someone you know around town has an exciting or unique way of passing time off the clock, drop us a line [email protected] For previous stories from our ongoing Downtime series, click here.