4-H Shooting Sports isn’t just about shooting

The focus of the 4-H Shooting Sports program is youth development – learn more about this unique program!

The Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports program is focused on more than just shooting - the main component is youth development. Photo credit: Mallory Fournier | MSU Extension
The Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports program is focused on more than just shooting - the main component is youth development. Photo credit: Mallory Fournier | MSU Extension

Envision youth on a shooting range: excitement is high as youth prepare for their turn to shoot. This is the moment they have been waiting and preparing for for a very long time. While they shoot, there is focus, chatter, arms pointing, a few moans and groans and an occasional shout. Suddenly, before they know it, their shooting time is done. It went so fast! Imagine all that anticipation for such a short time.

Aside from actually shooting, there is much time and preparation that goes into shooting sports that serves to enhance the shooting experience and make it a more holistic event. While marksmanship, gun safety and shooting technique are all important components, it is the learning of life skills that will always be the primary objective of shooting sports.

In Michigan 4-H, the main focus of our shooting sports program is youth development, as is the National 4-H Shooting Sports program, whose website states “skills for life – activity for a lifetime”. The National 4-H Shooting Sports website further elaborates by explaining, “The focus of all 4-H programs is the development of youth as individuals and as responsible and productive citizens. The National 4-H Shooting Sports Program stands out as an example. Youth learn marksmanship, the safe and responsible use of firearms, the principles of hunting and archery, and much more. The activities of the program and the support of caring adult leaders provide young people with opportunities to develop life skills, self-worth and conservation ethics.”

Teaching life skills is unique to the 4-H Shooting Sports program, compared to other similar youth programs. While there are other shooting organizations that do a great job of teaching shooting and the various important components, including nationally recognized programs such as the National Rifle Association, Civilian Marksmanship Program, USA Archery, and the Michigan Youth Hunter Education Challenge, these programs do not have a focus on youth development. This distinction is what separates 4-H Shooting Sports from other shooting organizations.

Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports includes archery, rifle (BB, air pellet, .22), muzzleloader and shotgun (trap and skeet). These disciplines include elements of safety, marksmanships and competition. The youth development aspects include leadership, responsibility, communication, problem solving, teamwork, self-discipline and much more! In fact, more time is spent in activities that involve life skills than is actually spent on the firing range. As a result, 4-H Shooting Sports is a safe and engaging activity that is helping youth develop the life skills they need to be productive and contributing citizens.

Now is a great time to get involved with shooting sports. Last spring, 128 leaders were trained by Michigan State University Extension in all disciplines and new clubs are forming all the time. For more information, visit the Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports website.

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