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Across the nation, Cooperative Extension serves our Military Service Members and their Families in many ways. One of those ways is through the 4-H Shooting Sports program.

About the 4-H Shooting Sports Program 

The 4-H Shooting Sports program is one of the largest shooting education programs in the United States, welcoming students from ages 8 to 18 to participate.  Each discipline (air pistol, air rifle, archery, muzzleloader,  and shotgun) is taught by a National or State Certified Instructor through a period of classroom training, followed by hands on training. The 4-H Shooting Sports curriculum uses the resources of the land-grant university and the time, talent, and dedication of Cooperative Extension agents and certified 4-H leaders, instructors, and trainers who instruct 4-H members in firearms safety and marksmanship.

Youth and Guns

We have seen another school shooting recently, this time in Florida. The thought that our children are being victims to gun violence feels like a nightmare, sparking concerns and questions about gun control, especially with youth. We don’t take this conversation and debate about gun control lightly as we’re facing questions about the 4-H Shooting Sports program.

Here are answers to some of the questions being asked concerning youth and guns in 4-H Shooting Sports:

Why does 4-H have a shooting sports program?

  • 4-H uses shooting sports to teach youth development. The discipline and self-control required for responsible firearms use helps youth develop self-confidence, personal discipline, responsibility, teamwork, self-esteem and sportsmanship.
  • Hunting and Shooting are rich American traditions. Through involvement of the family (youth, teens, parents, grandparents) the 4-H Shooting Sports program helps continue this tradition.
  • Through firearms education, the 4-H Shooing Sports program teaches youth how to safely use firearms, reducing gun accidents.

Don’t shooting programs like those run by 4-H spread American’s violent gun culture?

  • NO. There is evidence that the opposite is true. Designed to teach good self-concept and character, the 4-H shooting sports program promotes the highest standards of safety and ethical behavior.

Isn’t easy access to firearms one reason for the violent behavior we’ve seen in Columbine and other school shootings?

  • Access is NOT the issue. A responsible gun owner will store a firearm in the safe and secure environment of his or her home where they are inaccessible to unauthorized users.

Isn’t hunting inhumane and unnecessary in modern life?

There are four primary values that arise from hunting: social, economic, ecological and historical.

  1. Societal. A valued part of our American heritage, hunting is a viable and healthy food source. Promoting good sportsmanship and ethics, hunting is a common family activity, providing good mental/physical exercise.
  2. Economic.  Each year, hunters spend millions of dollars (much of which goes directly into wildlife management) to pursue the sport. The economic loss of human life and property damage that may result from road kills and crop depredation is minimized by hunting.
  3. Ecological. Hunting is a vital wildlife management tool. Hunters’ dollars support wildlife habitat projects in every state in the USA. Hunting improves the health of natural wildlife populations and contributes to the conservation of our natural resources. A well-placed shot by a skilled marksman is a more humane cause of death than natural causes experienced by wildlife.
  4. Historical. Hunting was a necessary method of obtaining food and clothing by our forefathers. The act of hunting and utilizing game animals, in similar ways, helps us to appreciate the demands and sacrifices that our ancestors faced in the historical development of modern civilization.

To learn more about the 4-H Shooting Sports program and questions related to youth and guns, check out this website and this informational brochure titled Point Kids in the Right Direction.