Teaching youth to hunt responsibly, recognize wildlife, and preserve the environment.
Raton, New Mexico - On July 21st, boys and girls from across North America will gather a the Whittington Center in Raton to compete for the 2013 NRA International Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC) title. Made up of eight separate events (Rifle, Shotgun, Muzzleloader, Archery, Orienteering, Wildlife Identification, Hunter Safety & Hunter Responsibility), YHEC teaches the young the basics of hunting. At International YHEC, kids from all over the United States and Canada will put their skills in each of those events to the test.
Those making their way out to New Mexico are the boys and girls who performed well at their state YHEC competitions. In July, they'll discover who has what it takes to bring home the Junior or Senior Grand Champion title.
"Most states have already held their events," said YHEC Program Coordinator Monty Embrey. "They're going to be fired up once they reach Whittington."
Founded in 1973, the NRA Whittington Center is America's one stop outdoor recreation facility. Nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, encompassing 33,300 acres ranging from 6,300 to 8,100 feet in elevation, it is a breathtaking and challenging setting for this event.
This year, YHEC is pleased to see significant growth in participation from Colorado, Florida, Texas, and Arkansas. With the expansion of activities in these states, International YHEC is anticipating a record breaking attendance as more than 400 youths are expected.
"When you get right down to it, it's the written exams that help make the difference," said Embrey. "Muzzleloaders too. Everyone likes shooting shotguns or rifles, but the muzzleloaders can be tricky if you haven't shot one before. And the exams, well, almost anyone would rather shoot than study.
“If you study for the written exams, you're going to be way ahead of the game.”
State- and provincial-level YHEC programs, hosted by volunteer instructors, draw an estimated 50,000 youths each year. Considered NRA's “graduate studies” program in outdoor skills and safety training for young hunters, the program is conducted under simulated hunting conditions to provide the best practical environment for reinforcing and testing a young hunter's skills.
“NRA Youth Hunter Education Challenges are a spring board for shooting sports," said NRA Hunter Services Manager Bob Davis. "Most, if not all, of the participants are also skilled competitors in shooting sports as well as being avid hunters.”
For more information about the YHEC, visit their webpage at yhec.nra.org or the YHEC Facebook page.