By Lars Dalseide | March 21 2013 17:48

Instead of cartoons, kids spend Saturday morning learning rifles, bows and fishing with the NRA

Practicing with a bow at a Youth Hunter Education Challenge - YHEC - in Martin, Georgia in March

 

While tweeting the other day, @Homeschooladdic (known in real life as Samantha) mentioned something about taking her kids to an NRA Youth Hunter Education Challenge. We said we wanted to hear more. Today, she gives us more.

 

Martin, Georgia - On a beautifully perfect Saturday morning, families from Martin, Georgia and surround communities gathered with their children for the Second Annual NRA Youth Hunter Education Challenge. Greeted by Linda Barrett of Land & Lake Realty, they stood in line to register for the event. Bouncing around in anticipation, the little ones dug through a bag of goodies (including a gun safety lock and a t-shirt donated by the National Rifle Association) while mom and dad dealt with the forms. Today was going to be fun. According to Linda, more than 250 children arrived in time to join in that fun.

The first station we came to was archery. Manned by Caleb Griner with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, he kindly greeted each child as they somewhat assembled in line. I watched as he rounded each and every one of them into pairs. The buddy system — making each child responsible for making sure his or her partner paid attention.

Griner proceeded to demonstrate how to properly load and draw a bow. It was obvious that some children had never touched a bow in their life. There was a lack of confidence, a hesitation in their stance, and a misfire or two during their first attempts. As the children worked their way through the various animal shaped targets, one after the other, their technique improved. The same could be said for their aim as well as a huge leap forward in their confidence.

And this was just the first station. Next came rifle.

The rolling hills of Richard Wansley’s farm created the perfect backdrop for the rifle firing range. Now more confident and attentive, the little ones lined up for a try at shooting one of two .22 semi automatic rifles. Brad Ward, an instructor with the NRA, sat beside each child as they fired — assisting and instructing proper procedures, locating the safety and how to aim. Parents and grandparents stood on the sidelines taking pictures and smiling as their progeny hit each target. The children grew ever more excited with their successes. Their ability to master something which required skill built their enthusiasm in the sport and confidence in their ability.

Lone riflewoman takes aim with range safety officer at her during during a Youth Hunter Education Challenge - YHEC - in Martin, Georgia in March

They also shot pellet rifles, made it to the skeet fields with shotguns and were allowed to fish in the nearby pond with bait and poles provided by the Georgia DNR. There was even a demonstration of how Labradors were trained to retrieve ducks. After the Labrador demonstrated his keen retrieving skills, the parents and children surrounded Naturalist, Steve M. Scruggs while he educated them in snake identification and safety.

Overall, the 2013 Youth Hunter Education Challenge was a success. The children were allowed to participate in various shooting sports, learned about firearm and snake safety, fished from a pond, and devoured a delicious meal of hotdogs and hamburgers cooked by realtor, John Cawthon.

If it wasn’t for the contributions and hard work of the National Rifle Association, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, volunteers, local law enforcement, local businesses, as well as Richard Wansley for providing his farm to host the event, none of it would have been possible. We thank them all from the bottom of our hearts.

 

 

Our thanks to Samantha for sharing the tale. If you have an NRA related story to tell, please send it our way.

 

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