In order to do well in the International Youth Hunter Education Challenge, you can’t be strong in just one area of marksmanship.
That’s how Quintin Dean, a member of the Bullseye 4-H Youth Sportsman Club team from Las Cruces, describes what makes the YHEC event fun and challenging. The 26th annual event started at the NRA Whittington Center Monday and was set to conclude Friday.
“Unlike other events and competitions, you have to be good at everything to be successful,” Dean said. He explained participants who tend to dominate one field, but aren’t as strong in others, aren’t always the most successful, whereas those who are solid in all areas tend to do better.
“It gives those who aren’t strong in one area an advantage,” Dean said. “You have to be well rounded.”
Fellow team member Zack Salopek agrees. “You can’t be strong in just one event,” he said.
Salopek added the YHEC event is “fun (and) it’s challenging. You get to see the best in the country from 17 states this year.” This year’s event — which alternates between the Whittington Center and a Pennsylvania site — drew nearly 300 competitors from 17 states.
Dean said another interesting aspect of the event is the chance to meet with participants from different states and learn about how people from other states experience the outdoors and shooting sports.
“Coming from New Mexico, I live in the desert,” he said. “Hunting in the desert is different from a boy hunting in Louisiana.”
Brandon Cunningham, a member of the Eddy County 4-H team, said he likes the challenge the events offers, saying muzzleloading is one of his favorite events. “That’s the hardest event with the smallest targets with open sights,” he said.
Fellow team member Jeremiah Fletcher also enjoys muzzleloading. “It’s kind of like the old-style firearms,” he said. “It’s like you get to shoot like they used to” in earlier times.
Fletcher said the main thing he enjoys is the chance to shoot different firearms. “I like going up for our practices, and then you get to compete with everyone from the state,” he said, referring to the state shoot at which the Eddy County team qualified for nationals. The state shoot was held at the Whittington Center in June.