About the Program
Recognized as the most comprehensive youth hunting program anywhere in North America, the Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC) is NRA’s “graduate studies” program in outdoor skills and safety training for young hunters. Open only to those who have completed hunter-safety training at the state or provincial level, the program is conducted under simulated hunting conditions to provide the best practical environment for reinforcing and testing a young hunter’s skills.
From rifle, bow and muzzleloader shooting at life-sized targets, to wildlife identification, to map-and-compass orienteering and more, YHEC participants get hands-on training in eight skills areas, giving them expertise in all methods of take and all types of game.
State- and provincial-level YHEC programs, hosted by volunteer instructors, draw an estimated 10,000 youths each year. Top ranked individuals advance to the annual NRA International Youth Hunter Education Challenge, the pinnacle of the program. Since its inception in 1985, YHEC has reached more than a million young sportsmen and women.
For those not familiar with YHEC (Youth Hunter Education Challenge), it is an NRA program sponsored by Youngwood Sportsmen’s intended to promote firearm safety and to introduce young people to the shooting sports. Our participants start in February and will continue for thirteen weeks practicing 3-D archery, sporting clays, 22-long rifle, muzzle loader, wildlife ID, and hunter responsibility on the club grounds. Then, in June the participants will compete at Scotia Range in State College PA with other YHEC participants from across Pennsylvania.
Annual YHEC Program Initiatives and Details
The Youth Hunter Education Challenge program at the Youngwood Sportsman Association provides an opportunity for youths in our community to learn firearm safety, firearm functionality, animal identification as well as hunter education. It is the hard work and effort put forth from current and past parents of the youth participants, volunteer members of the Youngwood Sportsman Association and the Youngwood Sportsman Association Board Members.
Each Sunday the group assembles in the clubhouse to go over safety with the kids as well as assemble groups and assign them their starting stations. The club is closed from 12:00 to 5:00 PM for events to take place.
Events are as follows:
Archery – Participants will be instructed on the safe use of a compound bow and arrows. Volunteers will instruct them on components that make up the bow, posture for shooting, accurate/safe aiming and minor adjustments. Volunteers will not “set-up” equipment for the shooters. A blend of 3-D targets at ranges from 15 – 30 yards will be used for practice.
Shotgun – Participants will be instructed on the safe use of a variety of shotgun models that range from 12 to 20 gauge. They will be taught basic functionality and components of shotgun. Volunteers will set up a group of clay throwers to give the participants a variety of reactionary targets to take aim at and break.. Examples – Incoming birds, Outgoing birds and directional right to left birds at different elevations and speeds.
.22 Caliber Rifle – Participants will be instructed on the safe use of a .22 Rifle. Volunteers will instruct them on shooting in a variety of different positions and distances. Paper targets as well as a variety of “knock down” targets will be used by the participants to practice accuracy.
Muzzleloader – Participants will be instructed on the safe use of an in-line muzzleloader. Volunteers will instruct them on the basic functionality. How to load it, clean it and safely aim to discharge. Paper targets as well as a variety of “knock down” targets will be used by the participants to practice accuracy. Participants are responsible for their own ammunition or projectile for this station.
Animal Identification and Hunter Safety – Participants will gather in the clubhouse to learn how to identify various forms of wildlife from water fowl to big game. Several varieties and types of material from paper picture, taxidermy wings from water fowl, cast molded paw or hoof prints, petrified feces and tanned pelts from several forms of wildlife will be used to instruct them. Testing for hunters safety and wildlife identification will take place often.
Several events take place during the course of the YHEC season. They are as follows:
Sunday Practices – Every Sunday from 12:00 to 5:00 at every station. Due to the extended period of time the kids and volunteers are present at the club during the day. We have parents volunteer to make food and bring drinks every Sunday at no cost to the club.
Seven Springs Shotgun Event – sponsored fully by Wildlife for Everyone. Sponsors choose approximately 15 participants to attend the shoot and go through the course with them. Awards are given at the end of the day. The cost to parents that wish to attend and participate in the meal provided is $50.00 per adult. Kids/participants eat free.
Hunting Hills Sporting Clays Event – Hunting Hills has opened their grounds to the participants, parents and committed volunteers of the YHEC program to visit and shoot 100 rounds at various targets and stations at a reduced rate. Each participant is responsible for paying their own way. Payment is made directly to Hunting Hills.
Regional YHEC shoot – This event will be held at the Youngwood Sportsman Association club at a date and time to be announced. This is an NRA sponsored event that allows for participants from the Western portion of Pennsylvania (as well as the Eastern portion if they are willing to travel) to gather and participate in animal identification, hunter safety testing and shooting events practiced by the YHEC organization. This event is also sponsored by local businesses, the Youngwood Sportsman Club, NRA, community members, parents and volunteers. All solicitations for donations are made through the efforts of the YHEC volunteers.
YHEC state shoot – This event is held at Scotia Range in State College PA. This is an NRA sponsored event that takes place annually and is the last event of the season for the YHEC participants. Parents, participants and volunteers are encouraged to participate and are completely responsible for obtaining their own transportation, lodging and food.
Fundraising – Various forms of fundraising takes place throughout the year to assist with purchases of prizes, medals, regional shoot assistance for supplies to get the club ready for the event and pizza nights for the kids during extra study time at the club.
YHEC picnic held at the club on a Sunday before the State Shoot as an end of season salute. All food is prepared by volunteers/parents.
Please be aware that while the club has a very limited supply of firearms for participants use, it is up to the parents of the participants to supply the necessary equipment to practice and compete. This 13 week program has a time and financial commitment associated with it.
As chairman of the YHEC committee I want to thank the board and all the members that allow the YHEC program use of the club and its facilities. It is a wonderful opportunity to offer willing participants a place to learn firearm safety and promote youth hunting. These kids are and will be the future of our club for generations to come.
Please contact Mike Drog to enroll participants in program.