A parent's perspective on her daughter's trials at the NRA International YHEC
Outdoor writer Mia Anstine is in Pennsylvania this week for 2014 NRA International Youth Hunter Education Challenge. After traveling more tha 2,000 miles to get there, here are her impressions halfway through the week ...
Mansfield, Pennsylvania - Teams are half way through the 29th annual International YHEC competition. They are making steady progress through the eight events, which will determine the best of the best in youth hunting and responsibility.
YHEC doesn’t just teach safety and responsibility. It also imparts focus, strength, comradery and a bond amongst a group that is elite among hunters and shooters.
Being from Colorado, a state that didn’t hold a qualifying YHEC state or regional event this year, we headed to Raton, New Mexico so our daughter could compete. She was welcomed by the Taos Young Guns and joined their team and competed in the state event. It afforded her the opportunity to qualify for this international competition. Due to extenuating circumstances, her new teammates were unable to make the trek to Pennsylvania for the International competition. It was determined our daughter would be competing as an individual this year.
We traveled nearly 2000 miles across the country for our daughter to compete solo in an international competition with over 300 entrants. Some would think this would be frightening or intimidating, but that hasn’t been the case.
As our daughter makes her way through the eight YHEC events we’ve been highly impressed by the youth, coaches and volunteers involved in the YHEC program. No matter where she’s gone, she’s been confronted with nothing but kind people. At opening ceremonies she was immediately embraced by another New Mexico team, from Las Cruces. The Sullivan Sharp Shooters, of New York rooted and cheered for her at the shotgun event. She was lucky enough to shoot archery beside a coach from Pennsylvania who shared his smile and wished her luck in her next events. The positive stories go on and on and our daughter, although alone as a competitor, has lots of new friends at YHEC.
And so, the competition continues. Titles to the 2014 International Youth Hunter Education Challenge will be awarded Friday for senior and junior team, individual and overall. Shooting events include shotgun, rifle, muzzleload and archery. Responsibility events are hunter safety trail, orienteering, wildlife identification and a hunter responsibility exam.
This year’s experience at the International Youth Hunter Education Challenge has reinforced our feelings that this is an outstanding program, which creates outstanding kids. If your child wants to participate, or if you would like to begin a YHEC club in your area, please contact Monty Embery of the NRA.
Find out more about the NRA Youth Hunter Education Challenge at yhec.nra.org