Kids from across nation testing their outdoor and survival skills in Raton

Colorado's Junior Youth Hunter Education Challenge team arrives in New Mexico

As luck would have it, Wolf Creek Outfitters' Mia Anstine is out at NRA Whittington Center for the 2013 NRA International Youth Hunter Education Challenge. While cheering on a certain team from Colorado, she agreed to send us pics and updates from the event.

Here's what arrived for day one ...

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NRA's Arkansas Youth Hunter Education Challenge championships come down to rabbits and safety trail

Cabin outside the Arkansas State YHEC Competition

We've been following the progress of Benton County's 4-H team at the 2013 Arkansas State YHEC Championships. With his final report on the action, here is Benton County Coach Stuart Sage.
Little Rock, Arkansas - The final days of Arkansas' NRA Youth Hunter Education Challenge State Championships started with Wildlife Identification (humbling to most) and ended on the range. While I'd like to say that all teams did well, the truth, as everyone who has ever been on the range knows, is that some did better than others. That truth became even truer when we arrived at the sporting clays.

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NRA Youth Hunter Education Challenge includes non-firearm events

Getting ready to take on the Archery Event at the Arkansas State Youth Hunter Education Challenge

Little Rock, Arkansas - Not every event at the NRA's Youth Education Challenge revolves around firearms. Orienteering requires a compass and map, Wildlife Identification requires your eyes, and Archery requires a bow and arrow. This morning at the C. A. Vines 4-H Center in Little Rock, it was the last one (Archery) that called to the team from Benton County 4-H. That's where Stuart Sage, our inside man and Assistant Benton County Coach, concentrated his efforts.

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Hundreds of Junior and Senior competitors show off outdoor skills in Little Rock

Members of the Benton County 4-H YHEC team in Arkansas Little Rock, Arkansas - All across the country, tens of thousands of kids are putting their hunting and shooting skills to the test by way of NRA's Youth Education Challenge. A grueling three-day event where teams and individuals compete in eight areas of outdoor expertise; shotgun, rifle, muzzleloader, archer, firearm safety, wildlife identification, orienteering and hunter responsibility. Yesterday, for example, kicked off the Arkansas State Championships at the C. A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center in Little Rock … and we have someone on the inside.

Mr. Stuart Sage arrived early with approximately 40 competitors in tow from the Benton County 4-H. Started five years ago by Michael Gower, the team began with less than ten members. Oh how they've grown.

"I act as an assistant coach for my son's team," Sage wrote. "Three seasons ago, when he first joined, there were only three Juniors on his team. Now we have sixteen Juniors and five Seniors. We have been busy."

More on the 2013 Arkansas YHEC State Championships...

Teaching youth to hunt responsibly, recognize wildlife, and preserve the environment.

Youth works on the Map Orienteering event at the NRA Youth Hunter Education Challenge in New Mexico Raton, New Mexico - On July 21st, boys and girls from across North America will gather a the Whittington Center in Raton to compete for the 2013 NRA International Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC) title. Made up of eight separate events (Rifle, Shotgun, Muzzleloader, Archery, Orienteering, Wildlife Identification, Hunter Safety & Hunter Responsibility), YHEC teaches the young the basics of hunting. At International YHEC, kids from all over the United States and Canada will put their skills in each of those events to the test.

Those making their way out to New Mexico are the boys and girls who performed well at their state YHEC competitions. In July, they'll discover who has what it takes to bring home the Junior or Senior Grand Champion title.

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From Federal Premium Ammunition - Federal Premium® Ammunition and CCI® Allocate 20 Million Rounds of .22 LR Ammunition for Youth Shooting Sports Programs

Shooting a .22 rifle at an NRA Youth Hunter Education Challenge event

Anoka, Minnesota - Federal Premium® Ammunition and sister company CCI® have dedicated 20 million rounds of rimfire ammunition to youth shooting sports programs. The Boy Scouts of America will receive 10 million .22 LR shells, and another 10 million will be sent to other organizations. This product sold at a discounted price will ship directly to the Boys Scouts of America, 4-H Shooting Sports and other qualified youth organizations. The ammunition distribution process was in cooperation with the Youth Shooting Sports Alliance (YSSA). Delivery is expected in May and will help ensure that many camps, shooting programs and trainings can occur over the summer.

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From the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks - Youth Hunter Education Challenge returns to South Dakota

youths shooting rifle at NRA's Youth hunters education challenge

Pierre, South Dakota - Young hunters will get a chance to demonstrate both their shooting abilities and their knowledge of conservation at the 2013 Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC) June 15 in Mitchell.

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United States' increased interest in firearms leads to growth of NRA programs.

Children hold up their targets at an NRA Day in Virginia

Fairfax, Virginia - Americans' interest in firearms has seen a surge in popularity over the past five years. More people are getting involved with the shooting sports, personal safety and hunting than ever before. And to help everyone from beginners to experienced firearms enthusiasts fully enjoy their Second Amendment rights are 178 NRA programs.

Places where we've seen the most growth are in our popular courses like NRA Basic Pistol and the female-focused Women On Target Instructional Shooting Clinics, designed to introduce citizens to firearms. You can't teach these courses without being a Certified Firearms Instructor or supervising safe shooting activities unless you're a Range Safety Officer.

More on how NRA programs are growing ...

Tim Lemon recognized for outstanding work with hunter education and enforcement in North America

NRA's Bob Davis presents Tim Lemon with the 2013 Hunter Education Professional of the Year award

Fairfax, Virginia - Tim Lemon, a hunter education specialist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, has been named the 2013 Hunter Education Professional of the Year for his outstanding community service, recruitment and enforcement efforts for hunter education in North America.

The award was presented at the annual International Hunter Education Association (IHEA) conference in San Antonio last week by NRA Hunter Services Manager Bob Davis, whose department oversees the nominations and selects the winner.

"Tim's work has consistently been essential to the success of conservation efforts and hunter education," Davis said. "All of this year's nominees were second to none, but Tim had the edge."

Sporting 25 years of involvement in hunter education, Lemon started as a Wildlife Enforcement Officer in 1997 before becoming a Hunter Education Specialist in 2001. His well-rounded background help him work with officers and educators in a ways that greatly benefit hunter education.

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