Raton, New Mexico - The Muzzleloading Event at the 2011 NRA International Youth Hunter Education Challenge is one of my favorites for a variety of reasons. Muzzleloading brings competitors back to the early days of hunting with a firearm, when you couldn't just pop another cartridge into your rifle or another shell into your shotgun. It's a part of our history and tradition as hunters, and seeing the smoke is just plain fun.
Charlie Fox is the Muzzleloading Event Director, and has been a YHEC volunteer for decades. But he's had plenty of experience with a muzzleloader, long before he got involved with YHEC and the other volunteers on his range are just as experienced.
"Between all the volunteers, we've hundreds of years of muzzleloading experience here," said Fox. "We've got volunteers who have been shooting muzzleloaders since they were ten years old, and trust me, we're not 19 years old anymore!"
In addition to the shooting portion of the Muzzleloading Event, there's also a written test composed of thirty questions that participants must complete before they get to the range.
"It's not a difficult test, just basic muzzleloading questions," shared Fox. "Some of these targets out here are really difficult to hit for even seasoned shooters, so the test helps to boost the kids' scores because some of them are very young."