3rd Annual NRA Y.H.E.C. at Georgia's Wansley Farms brings out the family
When Samantha Mitchell (you might know her by the Twitter handle Homeschooladdic) isn't teaching the ABCs, she's exposing the little to the important things in life. Last weekend, for example, she took them down to Wansley Farms for an NRA Youth Hunter Education Challenge. Here's her report:
During the early morning hours of Saturday, March 8th, the sun warmed the air causing dense fog to retreat behind the rolling hills of Richard Wansley’s farm, in Martin, Georgia, thus providing the perfect setting for the 3rd Annual NRA Day/Youth Hunter Education Challenge
Cars loaded with eager children accompanied by their parents quickly filled the parking area. In the same manner as years prior, children of all ages made their way to the registration line. While parent’s handled paperwork, the children busied themselves deciding between either a blue or a yellow t-shirt sporting logos of NRA Day/Y.H.E.C. event sponsors.
This event isn’t the typical challenge that comes to mind when thinking of Youth Hunter Education Challenge. Instead, the 3rd Annual NRA Day/Y.H.E.C. at Richard Wansley’s farm focused primarily on providing an outdoor target sports experience for children who may not otherwise have the opportunity to partake. Children of all ages took advantage of well prepared, organized stations such as archery, pellet rifles, 22 rifles, skeet shoots, and fishing. They also watched as an anxious Labrador demonstrated his keen duck retrieval skills.
A volunteer at the event, I made a point of asking the children if it was their “first time”. This first time encounter establishes positive recollections pertaining to the practice of target sports throughout one’s life. For many children, the opportunity to shoot a firearm with a well trained instructor, in combination with participating in the other events, will mold their opinion while creating favorable memories of outdoor sports for the future.
Brothers, Cameron (9 yrs.) and Brayden (7 yrs.) come to mind. Here we have two young boys, of a single mother who has no experience or limited exposure to outdoor target sports. After speaking with Cameron, I learned he dreamed of going hunting. He came to the event wanting to shoot a compound bow, as well as a 22 rifle. Without being at the event, his mother concurred, he may not have been able to do either. I observed as he eagerly approached each station. Beaming with pride and anticipation, Cameron’s mom watched his first attempt at shooting the Smith & Wesson, M&P15-22. He hit the intended target, eight out of ten times. Brayden, Cameron’s younger brother, hesitantly approached the rifle station. Although a bit intimidated at first, he also fared well when shooting the M&P15-22 rifle. Afterwards they fished with poles and bait provided by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The trio wrapped up their day shooting targets with pellet rifles.
When asked, the family of three simultaneously said they’d definitely return for another NRA Day/Y.H.E.C. at Wansley’s farm. Helping children and families develop an interest in outdoor target sports is what this event was all about. The idea is challenge children to develop an interest in being outdoors instead of stuck inside with television, internet and video games.
Cameron, Brayden and their mother, were just three of the 500 NRA DAY/Y.H.E.C. attendees at this year’s event. Close to 300 hundred of the participating individuals were children. Over 200 hotdogs and 200 hamburgers were cooked, served and eaten. This year’s event was, by far, the most successful of all prior events held at Wansley’s farm. It’s foreseen they will be even better in years to come. The 3rd Annual NRA Day/Youth Hunter Education Challenge provided a good time to all who attended while creating lasting memories.
If it weren’t for sponsors, in conjunction with supporters such as the NRA, Friends of the N.R.A., Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Gaston, BlackPoint Tactical Holsters, Brownwells, Tugaloo Gas, organizers Richard Wansley, Brad Ward, and the many volunteers, the NRA Day/Y.H.E.C. event would not have been possible. It was a great privilege to be a part and work alongside so many wonderful people who thought it important to offer up their day, organizing, working, cooking, in addition to providing other services for the event so children could have the opportunity to be outdoors experiencing and learning about target sports.
Find a YHEC in your area or learn more about NRA's Youth Hunter Education Program by visiting their website at yhec.nra.org.
Follow Samantha's journey through the Home Schooling adventure by visiting her website Big Seats and Flat Feet at bigseatandflatfeet.blogspot.com