Youth Hunter Education Challenge

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Published on: Nov. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 12, 2010

hunting-related topics. Archery, blackpowder shooting, shotgun and .22-caliber shooting events, map and compass training, wildlife identification, hunter and firearm ethics and hunter education knowledge are all typically covered at a YHEC camp.

Realism is one of the fundamental educational principles of all YHEC events. The program is conducted under simulated hunting conditions to provide the best practical environment for reinforcing and testing a young hunter's skills. The hunter responsibility trail at the Dalton Range event was an example. Students first learned about the safe and ethical decisions hunters have to make, and then they applied them to actual hunting situations."The YHEC program gives kids an opportunity to fine-tune the skills they learned in hunter education classes," said Jan Taylor, the assistant manager of the National Rifle Association's Hunter Services Department in Fairfax, VA. This branch of the NRA oversees the YHEC program.

"In order to be a well-rounded hunter, it takes more than just firearms handling skills," Taylor added. "This program takes them one step further. It adds to their knowledge, which makes them more comfortable in a variety of hunting situations. All these things come together to give them that edge when they go out into the field."

In addition to being an educational tool, YHEC has become a competition for some individuals. Some YHEC camps are competitive scoring events that serve as qualifiers for the annual NRA International Youth Hunter Education Challenge. You don't have to win a scoring event to earn a spot at the international contest, but you do have to participate in one. State and provincial-level YHEC camps draw nearly 15,000 youths each year.

The YHEC event at the Dalton Range was a demonstration, or non-scoring, event. None of the participants were trying to earn spots in international competition. They were merely youths who liked the outdoors and were looking for knowledge that went beyond what they had learned in hunter education.

"You can be the best shot in the world and be able to hit the bullseye at 500 yards, but you still might not be able to find any game," Ibrahim said. "You have to know where to look, when to look and what to look for."

Those topics were covered in the wildlife identification part of the Dalton Range event. In true YHEC fashion, the wildlife ID went beyond classroom lectures and pictures in textbooks. Students had to identify ducks by actual

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