Create and maintain shooting sports partnerships

Partnerships for 4-H shooting sports makes programs sustainable and productive for youth. Learn more ways to foster and develop partnerships for strong youth programming.

4-H Shooting Sports is a great program for a variety of reasons. This hands-on program builds camaraderie while exposing youth to various firearms and bows, competition and shooting, which makes for an exciting and fun experience for all. However, one vital aspect that should not be overlooked is the collaboration and efforts of the many organizations that support youth shooting. These agencies are important to good programming and need to be fostered for the continued success of 4-H Shooting Sports.

Many clubs and programs have long standing relationships with individuals, facilities and merchants that support the values and practices of youth shooting sports. The continued efforts of these supporters should be recognized and acknowledged. Sending thank-you notes, inviting them to events and public recognition in news releases and newsletters go a long way in showing how much they are valued. Personal notes from youth, phone calls or visits are also wonderful gestures that would be greatly appreciated. A small plaque of recognition or an invitation to the awards banquet would also be appropriate.

Supporters of 4-H Shooting Sports provide an array of services, products and knowledge that greatly benefits clubs, programs and most importantly the youth who are involved in shooting sports. Many 4-H clubs get to use sportsman club shooting facilities at little or no cost. Some clubs get targets, clays and ammunition at reduced costs. Still, others may get additional equipment that improves their shooting experience such as arm guards, safety glasses, ear plugs and more. These are huge benefits youth should be aware of so they can appreciate these benefits and those who are contributing to the success of 4-H Shooting Sports.

Developing relationships does not happen easily, and new clubs and programs will need to seek out supporters in their communities. Identify sport shops, sportsman clubs and conservation groups in your area. Most of these groups recognize that the future of outdoor sports is with our youth and are aware of the need for youth involvement in these areas. Reach out to them with a letter, phone call or personal visit. Get youth involved in this process. Encourage them to write letters and make the calls and visits. The skills developed through shooting sports go beyond shooting and are important life skills that promote the spirit of 4-H through strengthening positive character traits.

Great shooting sports programs and clubs don’t just happen; they are built by the efforts and ideas of motivated adult leaders, youth and their communities. They are enhanced by outside agencies that support the principles of 4-H youth development. Without this community support, 4-H Shooting Sports would not be what it is today.

Michigan State University Extension encourages participation in new experiences that are safe and expose youth to science involvement with 4-H Science: Asking Questions and Discovering Answers. Please contact me at for ideas on spending time outdoors with youth.

MSU Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program help to create a community excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). 4-H STEM programming seeks to increase science literacy, introducing youth to the experiential learning process that helps them to build problem-solving, critical-thinking and decision-making skills. Youth who participate in 4-H STEM are better equipped with critical life skills necessary for future success. To learn more about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth in STEM literacy programs, read our 2015 Impact Report: “Building Science Literacy and Future STEM Professionals.”

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