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New Mexico Youth Compete for State Hunting Title

New Mexico Youth Compete for State Hunting Title

Later this month the 2015 NRA International Youth Hunter Education Challenge will bring young hunters from all over North America to the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico, for six challenging days that will test their outdoor skills.

Approximately 50,000 youths go through local, state, and provencal YHEC programs each year to determine who advances to the International event. Last month, outdoor writer Mia Anstine attended the New Mexico YHEC - which also happens to be at the NRA Whittington Center - with her daughter and was kind enough to report back on how it went ...

Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC) competitors met at the Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico for the State championship event. June 5 and 6, 2015 brought together 198 competitors. Each one participates in eight events, which will determine the best of the best in youth hunting and responsibility.

YHEC is a comprehensive youth hunting program created by the. It’s designed to teach young hunters outdoor skills and safety. Youngsters can join at any age as long as they have completed a state, or provincial, hunter-safety training program. 

The Whittington Center is a facility like no other in the nation. You'll find wide-open spaces, cool nights, low humidity and beautiful scenery. It totals 33 thousand acres, or 52 square miles. The facility has ranges for shotgun, pistol, rifle, muzzleload, archery and survival, camping and hunting events. The ranges afford shooting distances from 25 yards to 2.07 miles. It's ideal for hosting large groups and always welcomes youth.

The International is hosted alternately in Raton, NM and Mansfield, PA. Competitors of the state competition qualified for the International YHEC event to be held July 26-31. This year the Whittington Center will proudly host approximately 1600 people for the International YHEC event.


2015 New Mexico YHEC State Championship

Camaraderie, responsibility, selflessness and competitive spirits were displayed at this year’s New Mexico event. From rifle, bow, muzzleloader and shotgun shooting, to wildlife identification, orienteering, hunter safety and knowledge, youth demonstrated their knowledge, skill and responsibility. 

Thunderstorms and mosquitos added a bit of challenge throughout the shooting and hiking events. These ever polite youngsters gave it their all to see who would win the title of “best” in each of the 8 events. Each year trophies are awarded to the top individual and team competitors in Sub-Junior, Junior and Senior divisions.

10X Youth Shooting Club, Senior Team 

This year brought tears of joy as a senior team from Las Cruces, the Rebels, won first place. 10X team members, Justus Brown, Mason Halvorsen, James Lucero, Dakota Tharp and Trevor Wax have been competing in the YHEC approximately 7 years. 

Mark Halvorsen and Travis Brown have coached them since they were small children. An emotional Coach Brown recounted his thoughts as heard they won, “All I could picture were the faces of them as little kids, years ago and their hopeful smiles. It’s great to see them achieve such a great accomplishment after all their work.”

Suzy Brown says the 10X team has a total of 26 youth and they picked up 4 to finish out 6 teams for the state YHEC event. They had 2 senior teams, 3 junior teams and 1 sub-junior team compete this year. They made it happen with the help 10 coaches and parents. Suzy’s husband, Travis Brown, is the president of the club and head coach.

It’s refreshing to see this team’s support for one another throughout competition. These progenies are the future. They, and many other YHEC competitors, are excellent examples to other young people in our country. They will carry on the torch for conservation efforts and shooting sports. 


YHEC 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, contact Monty Embery of the NRA.

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