Shooting, throwing, zip-lining & ‘surfing’ draw hundreds to Real Men’s Event
Mar 12, 2014
Florida Baptist Witness

BAPTISMS Two new believers were baptized in a trough filled with pond water during the Real Men’s Event. Courtesy photo
FLEMING ISLAND (FBW)—During the past six years, Skeeter Ranch, a sprawling property south of Live Oak, has been the chosen February Saturday destination for hundreds of men in North Florida. 

The Real Men’s Event Feb. 22 drew almost 1,000 men and boys for games and hunting demonstrations—and the Gospel.

Hibernia Baptist Church in Fleming Island has sponsored the event for nine years, since the first Real Men’s Event was held in the parking lot of Patterson Elementary School where the fledgling church first met. From the beginning, organizers Pastor Scott Yirka and laymen Ed Rock, Todd Smith and Keith Deas aimed to make the event intentionally evangelistic.

Randy Knepper headed the 2014 Real Men’s Event that registered 924, a number that did not include volunteers. He said organizers push every year to have a 50-50 mix of Christian and non-Christian men and boys participate.

“We want to attract those men who do not go to church, so we encourage the Christian men to invite their un­saved friends,” Knepper said. “We never want this to be simply a holy huddle.”

Many volunteers from Hibernia Baptist spent several days at Skeeter Ranch in preparation for the event. They were among the 200 people who directed the activities, cooked meals and registered participants. 

DECISION A visitor to the Real Men’s Event responds to his son, who made a decision for Christ. Courtesy photo
About one third of the event participants arrived Friday to camp in tents at Skeeter Ranch, a property owned by businessman Ed Rock, a member of Hibernia Baptist. 

The Friday weather—thunderstorms with 60 mph winds—“tested” the stability of registration tents and displays, but the storms ended before a Friday evening service and campfire. 

Mark Howell, pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona, preached in the barn, and Saturday proved to be “bluebird perfect,” Knepper said.

A vast array of activities was offered to attract men and boys who enjoy outdoor activities. Archery, a pellet gun shoot and turkey shoot, a zip line, a knife and hatchet throw, golf, paint ball, skeet shoot, baseball throwing, football quarterback skills competitions and a quail hunting demonstration offered challenges to participants. Knepper said he saw men and boys trying to best each other in archery, skeet shooting and pitching the fastest baseball. 

“I think the favorite activities were anything with a target,” Knepper chuckled.

SPEAKER Paige Patterson (right), president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, blended hunting stories and the Gospel. Courtesy photo
Several men from Maranatha Bible Church in Lantana improvised surfing in which surfers skimmed the edge of a pond while being pulled by a four-wheeler. Participants had a great time experimenting with that, Knepper said. 

A zip line that took sliders above the tree line proved to be a favorite with all ages, as did the football challenge that tested the participants’ quarterback skills in running a maze and hitting targets. Boys took on the challenge of capturing greased pigs.

Men from Shindler Drive Baptist Church in Jacksonville helped with the Air Soft Target event. Volunteer Nathan White, a new member of Shindler Drive Baptist attending the Real Men’s Event for the first time, led five boys to make professions of faith during his stint directing the shooting.

“These men from Shindler Drive understand evangelism,” Knepper said.

All the day’s activities led to the afternoon worship service during which men sat on hay bales to hear speaker Paige Patterson. Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and an avid big game hunter, used hunting stories to illustrate the Gospel. Knepper said Patterson urged the men and boys to be courageous, to stand firm in their convictions, and to grow closer to God.

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