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Everyone's a Winner at the Youth Hunter Education Challenge

Everyone's a Winner at the Youth Hunter Education Challenge

After four days of intense competition, the 2015 NRA International Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC) came to an end. This year’s event was hosted by the Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico. The 33,000-acre facility hosted over 340 competitors, their families, coaches and numerous volunteers for the 30th annual event.

What is YHEC?

YHEC is a youth hunting program created by the National Rifle Association. It’s designed to teach young hunters outdoor skills. As with all NRA programs, safety is of paramount importance: Kids can join at any age as long as they have completed a state or provincial hunter-safety training program. YHEC members participate individually and as teams in eight skill areas, teaching them to become experts in all methods of hunting and all types of game. The contestants shoot rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders and 3-D archery; they also learn to identify North American wildlife, participate in orienteering, demonstrate responsibility and engage in hunter-safety exercises. YHEC was established in 1985, and has reached more than one million young sportsmen and women to date. Volunteer instructors host programs on state and provincial levels.

2015 International YHEC

At the 2015 event, competitors worked to complete eight hunting and safety events within four days of competition. This year’s weather was more comfortable than that of two years prior, but it did pose a challenge for the competitors. Although those afternoon thunderstorms brought cooler temperatures to the New Mexico desert, they caused several events to be closed early for safety reasons. In then end, though, many teams completed competition an entire day early. The speedy finish afforded the teams time to explore the various historic sites, ruins and mines in the Raton, New Mexico area. At closing ceremonies, it also appeared the early finish may have resulted in many lower scores than those of the prior year’s events in Mansfield, Pennsylvania.

The morning of closing ceremonies, NRA National Manager of Recreational Programs and Ranges Bob Davis greeted over 340 competitors, their coaches and families. He thanked the youngsters, volunteers and the Whittington Center for another successful event. After the Pledge of Allegiance, Morning Prayer and a beautiful song, written and sung by a North Carolina coach, the winners received their honors.

1st Place Senior Individuals:

  •  Archery – North Carolina competitor, Jordan Yale, with a total score of 283.
  •  Muzzleload – North Carolina competitor, Dylan Poplin, with a total score of 280.
  •  Shotgun – Missouri competitor, Stewart McCollum, with a total score of 280.
  •  Light Hunting Rifle – Oregon competitor, Christopher Leavitt, with a total score of 290.
  •  Hunter Responsibility Examination - Pennsylvania competitor, Nickolas Martin, with a total score of 270.
  •  Hunter Safety Trail - Pennsylvania competitor, Nickolas Martin, with a total score of 270.
  •  Orienteering - Pennsylvania competitor, Mitchell Robson, with a total score of 220.
  •  Wildlife Identification - North Carolina competitor, Jordan Dinkins, with a total score of 280.

 

1st Place Senior Teams

  •  Archery – North Carolina Forbush Raptors with a team score of 1281.
  •  Muzzleload – Oregon Senior Team with a team score of 1280.
  •  Light Hunting Rifle North Carolina Forbush Raptors with a team score of 1280.
  •  Shotgun - North Carolina Forbush Raptors with a team score of 1150.
  •  Hunter Responsibility Examination – North Carolina Forbush Raptors with a team score of 1265.
  •  Hunter Safety Trail – Pennsylvania Senior Gold with a team score of 1185.
  •  Orienteering – Oregon Senior Team with a team score of 920.
  •  Wildlife Identification – North Carolina Forbush Raptors with a team score of 1240.

 

1st Place Junior Teams:

  •  Archery – Pennsylvania Junior Gold with a team score of 1114 points.
  •  Muzzleload – Pennsylvania TJ’s Gunslingers, with a team score of 1160.
  •  Light Hunting Rifle – Louisiana Bayou Bandits Jr. Gold with a team score of 1130.
  •  Shotgun - North Carolina Yadkin Patriots with a team score of 1040.
  •  Hunter Responsibility Examination – North Carolina Yadkin Patriots with a team score of 1250.
  •  Hunter Safety Trail – Pennsylvania TJ’s Gunslingers with a team score of 1050.
  •  Orienteering – New Mexico Bullseye Jr. Diamondbacks with a team score of 810.
  •  Wildlife Identification - North Carolina Yadkin Patriots with a team score of 1130.

 
This year’s Bud Eiman Award, which is an award for excellence in team courtesy, etiquette and ethics, was presented to the Wyoming Upton Young Guns. It’s their second year in a row to win this award.

Best teams of 2015

The North Carolina Patriots Junior Team was declared the overall winner with a total events score of 8142.

The North Carolina Forbush was declared the Senior Team overall winner with a total events score of 9331.

Do you know a young person who'd like to get involved with YHEC? Click here to learn more about the program! Or, you can click here to watch our video about the event. Don't miss our photo gallery of 2015's YHEC, either!

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