By Kerrin Brinkman | June 6 2011 13:24

Youth Hunters in Utah during NRA competition

Thanks to Utah's Uinta Basin publication, The Edge Magazine and author/photographer Robert Strole for sharing this article and photos about the Utah State Youth Hunter Education Challenge event held earlier this year:

Competitors from across Utah met at the Vernal Rod & Gun club on April 15 & 16 to participate in the 2011 Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC). YHEC is a program sponsored through the National Rifle Association, along with local organizations and the help of the Division of Wildlife Resources, which allow youths to compete against each other in shooting events and other knowledge based events. The national YHEC program draws an estimated 50,000 youths each year, with more than a million participants since its inception in 1985.

Vernal hosted the state competition this year with 93 youths from Vernal and across the state competing against each other. The facilities at the Vernal Rod & Gun club were generously donated to set up the different ranges for the events. Mark Partdridge, the event coordinator, organized the best attended event in the history of the state YHEC program. With the competitors, parents, volunteers, Division of Wildlife Resources employees, and spectators, around 300 people attended the 2011 competition.

Eight different events were organized and staffed by volunteers. The Division of Wildlife Resources created a safety trail that tested the participant’s ability to handle guns safely in the field and to identify unsafe shooting conditions. Wildlife Identification tests the contestants’ ability to identify animals from skulls, hides, wings, eggs, etc. A 3-D archery range was set up and supervised by Red Neck Archery. 3-D animal targets from skunks to dinosaurs were placed up to 40 yards away with obstacles placed to simulate real hunting situations. The shotgun range was a sporting clay arrangement with challenging clay targets thrown at different angles and combinations. The orienteering event consisted of a written test, along with a practical exercise, where the participant used a compass to find markers at specified bearing and distances. The 22 event consisted of spinner type targets placed between 25 to 75 yards away. The muzzle loading event consisted of a written test along with several shots at metal silhouette targets. All participants took a written exam to test their knowledge of hunting and outdoor skills. 

There's a junior category for those under 15 years of age a senior category for those 15 and up. An awards ceremony was held Saturday afternoon with the top ten competitors in each category recognized for their achievements. Ribbons were awarded for placing in spots 10th through 4th and medals were awarded for 3rd, 2nd and 1st. The overall winners received plaques in addition to their ribbons and medals. Each participant in the state competition qualifies for the international YHEC competition. The international competition will be held in Raton, New Mexico the week of July 24, 2011. The following seniors were the top overall winners:

  1. Bretton Cranney
  2. Marshall Bassett
  3. Kassidee Dunford
  4. Heidi Reeder
  5. Ty Anderson
  6. Kaden Price
  7. Monica Cook
  8. Cody Hatch
  9. Jace Bilby
  10. Sawyer Clark

The following juniors were the top overall winners:

  1. Josh Dunford
  2. Ryder Green
  3. Jesse Nelson
  4. Braden Cook
  5. Kaden McArthur
  6. Patrick Black
  7. Connor Oaks
  8. Tyler Gross
  9. Arjay Foster
  10. Cole Redding

Mark Partdridge and the YHEC staff wish to express their appreciation to all who donated their time and money. Dozens of volunteers traveled from all over the state to set up and run the eight different events. Many local individuals and businesses made financial contributions to support the local program. Please contact Mark Partdridge at 781-0007 for more information about the Utah YHEC program.

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