Theresa Vail has been widely recognized for some time as former Miss Kansas. Vail was a 2014 Miss America Top 10 finalist, and dared to straddle the line between tradition and modernity, as she strutted across the stage in her beautiful red swimsuit, baring a very visible, and very meaningful tattoo.
It goes without saying, Theresa Vail is not your average beauty pageant contestant, nor is she your average American citizen. Vail’s father served his country in the U.S. Army for more than 30 years, and his daughter followed his booted footprints all the way to enlistment. She joined the Army National Guard and she “continues to travel the world, encouraging others to experience the outdoor lifestyle.”
Theresa Vail admits to being “a sad and timid girl who was unsure of herself,” even with the skillset and knowledge that her father and family provided her during childhood. It was when she decided to take risks, and fight for what she believed in, that she found her identity. “You never know what you’re capable of until you test yourself,” Vail declares.
Since the Miss America Pageant, Vail has been honing in on her marksman skills and has become a major fan of the art of archery. Vail says that archery is a much more “intimate experience,” and it wasn’t hard for her to become addicted to the feel of a strong bow in her grasp. Vail is currently the host of NRA All Access: Presented by Franchi on the Outdoor Channel, and she stands proudly by the American peoples’ side, as a supporter of the 2nd Amendment.
“Being a supporter of the NRA,” Theresa says, “means standing with an organization that is fully devoted to protecting our Constitutional Right to Bear Arms. There are no hidden agendas, no secrets to unfold, but simply a group of people who believe in what our Founding Fathers wrote.” Vail is an ambassador for the National Rifle Association, as well as Bass Pro Shops, and Bowtech.
In this exclusive interview, Theresa delves into her past, sharing experiences that turned into life lessons learned. She then soars into her future, sharing goals, dreams, and ways of life that she will continue to support. Learn about her involvements with NRA All Access and what filming the show is like, as well as what she has planned next!
Theresa Vail Q&A
- Tell us a little bit about your childhood. What was it like, growing up in Kansas, and participating in outdoor activities, like hunting, at such a young age? Who and/or what sparked your love for the outdoors?
- I was born in scenic upstate New York. I moved to Germany for quite some time and at 12-years-old moved to my “home state” of Kansas. My fondest memories of my childhood are of the outdoor adventures I was able to experience. When we lived in New York, my dad would take a few of us kids out on river walks. We would get dressed up in our old Army camo, pack a few MREs (meals ready to eat), and then pick a river to start walking down. We didn’t watch cartoons on Saturday mornings; we were encouraged to play outside. When we moved to Germany is when my dad introduced me to hunting, and my love for the lifestyle has only grown since.
- Being a huntress, you’re skilled as an outdoor enthusiast. What was your most challenging hunt?
- The most challenging hunt I faced was my New Mexico elk bow hunt. I had never been elk hunting before and I went into it thinking of it as just a large-scale deer hunt. With each encounter, I kept thinking that I had time to make that perfect shot. I quickly found out that you do NOT have time to think about it and that you need to be quick on the trigger. I left New Mexico empty-handed.
- What got you into archery?
- Archery is my favorite simply because it is a much more intimate experience. An ex-boyfriend had just gotten into shooting and asked if I wanted to go to the archery range with him. Always up for trying something new, I was ready for the challenge. That day at the range, I quickly started shooting better than my ex-boyfriend; I was immediately hooked and bought a bow that day. It was a game-changer.
- You enlisted in the Kansas National Guard at 17. Thank you for your service. What factors in your life helped you make that decision?
- My dad was in the U.S. Army for 33 years. Even as a child, I knew that I wanted to follow in his footsteps. My original plan was to go Active Duty Army after I graduated from dental school, but when I learned of the increasing costs of college, I decided to expedite the plan and join the Army National Guard to help mitigate those costs.
- You worked your way up to the rank of Sergeant in such a short period of time. What challenges did you face while moving forward in the Kansas National Guard? How has being a member of the Armed Forces prepared you for life in general?
- Being a woman in the military is not easy. Whether you like it or not, you’re treated differently—good or bad. I have had to work harder than most people ever will just to prove myself and my capabilities, and to show that I am more than a pretty face. Being in the military has prepared me for life by teaching me professionalism and underscoring how you only deserve what you work for in life.
- During your participation in the 2014 Miss America Pageant, you showed off a very meaningful Serenity Prayer tattoo, along with your platform basis being the encouragement for women to break barriers and stereotypes. As a strong woman who has proven that taking risks is worth the struggle, what words of wisdom would you offer to young people who may be afraid of breaking those chains?
- You will never know what you’re capable of until you test yourself. I found my identity when I started doing things outside of my comfort zone. Before that, I was a sad, depressed, timid girl who was unsure of herself. I feel that I have finally reached the stage of self-actualization, a stage that most people don’t find until later in life. I truly believe there are only positives that can come from taking risks.
- As the host of NRA All Access: presented by Franchi, what aspects of the show are most influential to you?
- Perhaps the most influential part of hosting NRA All Access presented by Franchi on Outdoor Channel has been meeting the people we’ve profiled. I’ve come to see firsthand how many different types of people, from all different walks of life, enjoy and uphold their Second Amendment rights and their love of the outdoors. From “bad boy” Jesse James, to hardcore athlete Cameron Hanes, and even to pro golfer Boo Weekley who is just trying to raise his kids to appreciate the outdoors—I’ve garnered perspective from each and every one of them.
- Through NRA All Access, what has it been like to meet and hear from fellow Americans? What does being a supporter of the NRA mean for you?
- Being a supporter of the NRA means standing with an organization that is fully devoted to protecting our Constitutional Right to Bear Arms. There are no hidden agendas, no secrets to unfold, but simply a group of people who believe in what our Founding Fathers wrote. The NRA stands firm for me and others like me.
- Being a part of NRA All Access has afforded me the opportunity to meet and hear from fellow Americans in a variety of ways. From social media to tradeshows, I’ve been able to communicate with other people who support the NRA, and listen to their feedback on this season’s NRA All Access. They love it!
- What is your opinion on the 2nd amendment?
- The Second Amendment allows me to protect myself and my home. As a single woman who spends most of her time traveling alone, I find comfort in knowing that I have the Constitutional Right to defend myself should I need to.
- What has been the most rewarding part of hosting NRA All Access?
- The most rewarding part of hosting NRA All Access on the Outdoor Channel is knowing that I am a part of something much bigger than myself. Hosting Limitless had its great moments, but it was all about me. I want to know that there is a bigger cause that I’m fighting for.
- We heard you can cook a mean squirrel stew, complete with sauerkraut. Is that an original recipe?
- It is my mother’s recipe, actually. She’s a mean cook—I mean that literally and figuratively.
- Do you often cook your own kills? What is the best thing about being able to do so?
- I always cook my own kills. The most rewarding thing about doing so is the feeling of self-sufficiency. No one can take that away from me.
- You chose Chinese, Chemistry, and Psychology as academic focuses, you taught yourself opera, and your extensive military background makes you extremely well-rounded, also. What would you like to learn next?
- I am looking at different graduate programs right now. School is something that I could never leave—I am an academician by nature. Medical school is hopefully somewhere in my future, as well. For the time being, I would like to start learning mixed martial arts (MMA) with all of that free time I have (just kidding, I have none). The sport of fighting has always fascinated me.
- Out of all the places you’ve traveled to in NRA All Access, which destination was the most memorable?
- Our trip to Italy was by far the most memorable. Our flight back to the U.S. was canceled, so we decided to make the most of our time and explore Rome. I visited the Vatican with my dad when I was a little girl, so going back and experiencing that rich history all over again was very special for me.
- You’ve been skydiving, practiced boxing, and participated in many other thrilling and high-endurance sports. What’s one thing you haven’t done yet, but would like to check off of your list?
- I would love to bungee-jump from a hot air balloon!
- What was it like competing in your first shooting competition at the NRA World Shooting Championship in season 5? Which stage was your favorite?
- Daunting, to say the least! I was paired with a group of professional shooters and I kept thinking that my skill level should be on par with theirs. Only after a few rounds of being humbled (completely defeated) by them, I realized that I should be having fun with this first competition instead of thinking that I should be able to dominate right off the bat. After I switched my mindset, I ended up really enjoying those few days and I even picked up a few tips from the pros along the way. My favorite stations were cowboy action and long-range precision. There is something about making an 800+ yard shot that really gets you fired up.
- Is there anything you wish you could do over again, such as the Bataan Death March or the Pageants, either for the thrill, or for a different result?
- For as long as there are Bataan survivors, I will do the Bataan Memorial Death March every year that I can. Additionally, I would absolutely do Miss America over again. I wouldn’t have been a stereotypical bleached-blonde, I certainly wouldn’t have chosen to sing opera for my talent, and I wouldn’t have cheated on my diet in those last two weeks of competing! I still cringe at the photos.
- What can we expect from Theresa Vail in the near future? Are there any upcoming surprises or events that you’re participating in?
- My whole life is a surprise! I live with blind faith that the next day will bring bigger and better opportunities. God has not disappointed me yet. After competing for my first time in the NRA World Shooting Championship, I would like to start getting involved in competitions. I wasn’t as bad as I thought I would be for a newbie.