How to Start a Youth Hunter Education Skills Team
2/10/2012 3:09 PM
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has set the schedule for the 2012 Youth Hunter Education Skills Tournaments, marking the 34th year for the popular statewide shooting sports events. Hundreds of middle school and high school students will participate in this incentive component of Hunter Education Program.
The past 10 years have witnessed a tremendous growth. For example, in 2001 there were 12 teams competing in my district, D-7, and there were 42 teams last year. In 2011, there were 218 teams total in the nine district tournaments.
I recently met with a couple of schools that had inquired on how to start a team. This has become a rather common inquiry this time of year. Here are a few of the more common questions asked by school administrators, potential coaches and community leaders.
How do we get started? Generally, I send the administrator a copy of the rules and schedule a meeting to discuss eligibility requirements, general safety rules, and the basic competition structure. I also meet again with the team coaches, parents, participants, and community support. So, getting in touch with a Hunter Education Specialist is the first step.
What kind of training do our coaches need? Each team must have at least one person certified as a Hunter Education Instructor and at least one person certified as a Range Safety Officer. The school and team administration can require all coaches to be certified. This is all up to the staff.
What will the cost be? The registration for a district tournament is $50 per team. If your team is fortunate enough to qualify for the state tournament, the registration fee is $100 per team. These are the registration costs. Team operation costs are as varied as the number of teams. Most teams conduct fundraisers to defray practice expenses. There are also a number of grants and assistance from private businesses and organizations. Travel, supplies, uniforms you — set your own budget.
What are the events? There are four events: rifle, shotgun and archery marksmanship, as well as an orienteering challenge and a hunting knowledge test. All four events are worth up to 1,000 team points and up to 200 individual points.
How many people can I have on the team? Each team is required to have five participants at each event. However, participants are not required to compete in all events. Coaches determine which participants compete in the particular events. Teams can have a maximum of 20 competitors and as many alternates as they want. The average team size is from seven to 10. Schools can have up to three teams.
When and where do we compete? There are district tournaments, usually in March and typically on a Saturday. These tournaments take place at local wildlife clubs, shooting preserves, 4-H camps, and Boy Scout reservations. The State Youth Hunter Skills Tournament, the North Carolina championship, is held on the fourth Saturday of April at Millstone 4-H Center near Ellerbe. All participants are eligible to compete in the NRA’s International Youth Hunter Education Challenge.
What benefits could be expected for students? This is an opportunity for young people, male and female, to be involved in a team and learn the value of teamwork, sportsmanship and achieving team goals. Several coaches and school administrators have commented to us that many participants have made better grades, improved behavior and increased class attendance once involved in a team. The tournaments also provide an opportunity for participants to be a part of a competitive event.
Students who might not typically be involved in athletics can participate in an intense, serious event and be competitive.
By Tim Lemon, District 7 Hunter Education Specialist