I was recently working on a project and came across photos of my brother and me during our competitive archery days. There were pictures of us with Tom Jennings, plus one of when we got to meet Fred Bear, from the National Field Archery Championships and the New York State Championships. As I sat there looking at the photos, I wondered if today’s kids have competitions like we had?
As it turns out, there are even more opportunities than when we were teenagers.
I’m amazed at all the activities available with the New York State 4-H Shooting Sports Program. Through this program youngsters can learn air rifle and pistol shooting, archery, muzzleloader, rifle and shotgun shooting, all under the expert instruction of a trained 4-H shooting sports instructor. Better yet, it is an educational experience. The program also uses STEM (science, technology, and math) as part of the curriculum. Last year these programs reached 38,000 participants.
The 4-H program offers this instruction emphasizing safety, ethics, personal responsibility, and family, all while teaching recreational skills that can last a lifetime. In addition to the shooting sports, 4-H has other outdoor recreation and conservation programs for young people.
Best of all, the 4-H Shooting Sports Programs are widely available in the Capital Region, in fact each county has a program. More information on the New York State 4-H Shooting Sports Program is available at http://nys4hshootingsports.org.
Another competition that is available in high schools is the New York State High School Clay Target League. This program is run by the USA High School Clay Target League, a non-profit corporation, and it offers the shooting sports as an extracurricular opportunity for boys and girls in grades 6-12. Participating students have to have earned their hunter education certificate, and they are taught safety and marksmanship. Students shoot at their local ranges and their scores are entered into the statewide scoring system. All participants have a chance to attend the State Championship. More information about the NYS High School Clay Target League is available at http://nyclaytarget.com.
I’ve never had any experience with the Olympic shooting sports, and I’ll bet they are very challenging, to say the least.
There are a couple of local clubs that offer that type of shooting. RPI has a rifle club that offers Olympic-style air rifle shooting. Another club, the Schenectady JRC, also offers air rifle shooting. More information on these programs is available on the USA Shooting organization’s website at http://www.usashooting.org/membership/youth-programs.
The New York Field Archers and Bowhunters was the organization that sponsored the competitions my brother and I participated in when we were younger. They have a Facebook page, but there does not seem to be any current events available.
The NYS 3-D Archery Challenge also has competitive archery shooting, and there are 2018 events available, although there do not seem to be any in this area. They have a Facebook page where information is available under that name.
Not every youngster is interested in the typical team sports offered at schools. Other sports opportunities like competitive archery, or firearms shooting offer the chance at a lifetime hobby. They teach fair competition, hard work, and the proper and safe use of firearms and archery equipment. If you have a youngster who is the outdoor type, give one of these programs a try.
Reach outdoors columnist Rob Streeter at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at 691 Stoner Trail Road, Fonda, NY 12068.