WON Landing Page OCT 2022

7 Things that Will Help You in Youth Hunter Education Challenge

A report from the International Youth Hunter Education Challenge, held at The Whittington Center in New Mexico, from Lea Leggit, The WON’s intern, where she lists 7 things that will help you to compete. The 30th Annual International Youth Hunter Education Challenge is in the books and I’d say it was a success. This was my third year competing and it was one of my favorite years.


Youth competing at the shotgunning event. (Mia Anstine photo)

Why? There were fewer shooters than years in the past, and not only were participant numbers low but also, overall scores were lower. All 8 events provided a challenge but were a lot of fun. On the up side, it was good news to hear 18% of the participants in last year’s International YHEC were girls. This is a pretty good number and everyone is hopefully going up from there. In case you didn’t know, YHEC is a hunting competition for kids. Participants compete archery, shotgun, muzzleloader, .22, hunter responsibility, hunter safety trail, orienteering and wildlife identification. There is a possible score of 300 at each station. Entrants may enter to compete as teams, of 5 shooters, or as individuals. They will be given awards based on scores as individuals and team scores.


Lea does well with her Beretta shotgun. (Mia Anstine photo)

There were 16 states present, including Florida and even New York. The week started out beautiful with cool mornings and afternoon showers. All shooters had 4 days to complete all 8 events and most teams finished with a day to spare. This year I competed as an individual from Colorado. In some events I did some good things and others I struggled with getting the score I needed. Although I made a lot of new friends from across the country, I missed having the support and camaraderie of my team. I’m hoping the team will come with me, next year, to the International event.


Lea draws on her target. (Mia Anstine photo)

Every year I learn something new just from the experience and the challenge of the program. Here are 7 things that helped me.

  • For Archery — in the competition take your time and don’t second-guess your distance estimate.
  • In the shotgun event, as a shooter, you should always double check your choke to make sure you’re using the correct one. Also, make yourself comfortable before shooting.
  • Muzzleloader is a challenge on its own, to be sufficient in this event you want to make sure you have a routine so you never miss a step.
  • In Rifle or .22, just like archery, you want to take and manage your time on each shot. Don’t rush and don’t second guess the distance.
  • In the other 4events; Hunter Responsibility, Hunter Safety Trail, Orienteering and Wildlife ID, the major tip is to study. You’re given books for this. Use them, and never second-guess your answer.
  • Approach every event with the utmost confidence. This will help not only your attitude, but also the quality of scores you get in your events.
  • Lastly, ALWAYS remember you’re there to have fun.

Checking to see the dinner plate area on a target. (Mia Anstine photo)

For information on how to get involved in the YHEC program, to find teams around you, or even create your own team you can go to http://international-yhec.nra.org/. Competing in YHEC is a great experience for kids of all ages. It’s perfect for learning safety, outdoor skills, shooting skills, making friends and not to mention it is a great way to prepare for hunting season.