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Idaho 4-H shooting programs expanding
May 25, 2017
The University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development program can boast more than a century of helping young people learn leadership and good judgment in hitting targets —  ranging from earning blue ribbons for sewing projects to mastering animal showmanship at county fairs.

It turns out that hitting the bull’s-eye is a goal that is becoming increasingly popular, literally.

Scores of 4-H members already enrolled in shooting sports projects will participate in the state shooting sports competitions June 23-24 at the Jerome County Fairgrounds and Jerome and Twin Falls gun clubs.

This year’s competitive shooting events include shotgun, small-bore rifle and archery. Youth will also test their hunting skills, including decision-making, wildlife identification and wildlife management knowledge.

The small-bore rifle contest will require youth to test their marksmanship with open sights in the three standard shooting positions; prone, kneeling and standing, and on silhouette targets.

In archery, 4-H shooting sports members test their skills on 3-D and standard targets.

Shotgun sports participants will try to bust clay targets on trap and skeet ranges.

The state competition is a highpoint for some 4-H members’ years. They spend much of their time learning about gun and archery equipment safety. The shooting sports projects also help 4-H’ers learn the fundamentals of marksmanship.

More than 1,000 Idaho 4-H members enroll in shooting sports projects each year. With the popularity of shooting sports in Idaho, the goal is to double the number of 4-H youth participating in the program to 2,000 by 2021.

The NRA Foundation and Friends of NRA provide financial support for the 4-H shooting sports program. So far this year, the groups have provided nearly $50,000 in grants to the state 4-H office and to eight counties — Ada, Adams, Bingham, Canyon, Caribou, Elmore, Latah and Minidoka — to buy equipment.

The 4-H shooting sports plan requires extensive training for instructors. The state office funded national-level training for instructors, who are then authorized to train and certify instructors.

“We are very excited about the Expanding Youth Involvement in Idaho 4-H Shooting Sports Programs initiative,” said Jim Wilson, University of Idaho Extension 4-H regional youth development educator and shooting sports coordinator in Coeur d’Alene. “And we are pleased that the NRA is making a substantial investment in youth education and safety programs statewide.”
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