By Kerrin Brinkman | June 21 2011 08:49

Each year, the NRA Foundation gives out grants to support various areas of the shooting sports, including our Youth Cooperative Organizations like 4-H. Here's a story about how one of these grants is helping young people excel in archery in New Mexico:

NRA grant boosts Valencia County 4-H archery program

Friends of NRA logo on NRAblog Elijah Pena places his feet by the shooting line and pulls the bowstring back on a compound bow as he aims at the target 20 feet down range.

The 10-year-old 4-H member releases the string and the arrow flies toward the target, ending with a thud as it penetrates the second ring.

Like the parents of many first-year participants, Kevin and Mary Helen Pena were not sure if archery was going to be a good match for their son, Elijah. They didn't really want to invest in the equipment if this was to be a short-term interest of his, so they borrowed equipment from another 4-H family.

Until recently, any Valencia County 4-H members wanting to try archery but not wanting to invest in the equipment would have to borrow equipment from families whose children had either outgrown their bows or were no longer participating.

Thanks to a grant from the National Rifle Association Foundation, new club equipment is now available, allowing 4-H youth to participate with borrowed equipment before making the financial commitment of buying a bow.

"Each year, several beginning or new 4-H youth enroll in archery shooting sports and can't afford or are unsure if they want to invest in proper equipment until they have participated in the program," said Kyle Tator, New Mexico State University's Valencia County Extension agent. "We felt that the participation in the program had declined because of a lack of safe and reliable equipment that the youth could borrow to properly learn the sport of archery."

The grant from the NRA Foundation facilitated the purchase of basic equipment, which Tator hopes will eliminate this problem and encourage recruitment and retention of youth in archery shooting sports for years to come.

"We have more than 200 youth enrolled in Valencia County 4-H every year," Tator said. "We want the kids to be able to explore archery shooting sports. Archery teaches kids self-worth, confidence, independence and integrity. These are all life skills that make productive citizens."

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