North Carolina teams captured first place honors in junior and senior divisions at the 27th annual International Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC), a demanding week-long shooting and outdoors skills competition in Raton, N.M., sponsored by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Gray Stone Day School Marksmanship Team, of Misenheimer, N.C., took first place in senior standings, while Park Ridge Christian School Sharpshooters, of Albemarle, took first place in junior standings. Also, Hunter Efird, of Gray Stone Day School, was the senior individual overall winner. Complete results here.
This duplicated the results from the 2013 Youth Hunter Education Skills Tournament, the pre-collegiate shooting sports state championship held by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission in April at Millstone 4-H Center in Richmond County. Teams and individuals qualify for YHEC through the Wildlife Commission’s district and state Youth Hunter Education Tournaments.
YHEC competition is held in .22-caliber rifle and muzzleloader at knock-down targets, shotgun on a sporting clays course and archery at 3-D game targets. Non-shooting competition consists of orienteering, wildlife identification, hunter responsibility and ethics exam, and a hunter safety trail test.
The success of North Carolina’s youth in the international competition was noted by Richard Childress, an NRA board member and North Carolina businessman, best known as a championship NASCAR team owner. Active in global conservation efforts, Childress is a part of the Wildlife Commission’s Strategic Recruitment and Retention Initiative to build involvement in hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching.
“First, I would like to congratulate (Commission Executive Director) Gordon Myers and his entire staff on getting our youth more involved in the great outdoors,” Childress said. The YHEC results “show how important recruitment and retention is. Youth are our future in conserving the great outdoors.”
Nearly 400 competitors, coaches and parents attended this year’s event. Some 50,000 young people take part in similar youth events across the United States and Canada annually.
“We have to acknowledge and thank the schools and school systems that recognize the value of such activity and encourage participation,” said Travis Casper, Hunter Education Program coordinator with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. “These young people are going to maintain the relevancy of our conservation heritage for years to come.”
For more information on youth and adult involvement in the outdoors, go to www.ncwildlife.org.