Starting a 4-H shooting sports club

Find the necessary steps to starting a 4-H shooting sports club.

Interested in Shooting Sports? Want to share that experience with youth? Have you ever considered starting a 4-H shooting sports club? Now or anytime is great time to start a new 4-H shooting sports club or program in your county. According to Michigan State University Extension, with some help from county 4-H staff and some local sportsman club, a shooting sports club/program can be a major influence for youth and lead them to greater opportunities.

Shooting sports is one of the most popular 4-H project areas in Michigan. The 2014 4-H year shows 4,023 youth involved statewide with shooting sports. Archery seems to be quite popular and gains many new members each year. Perhaps the influence of movies such as Hunger Games and The Hobbit has stirred additional interest. Rifle is a close second in popularity and will always have high participation because it includes BB, air or pellet rifle, muzzleloader and .22 caliber. Shotgun includes trap and skeet shooting. The Hunting and Wildlife discipline is a unique program that does not involve shooting but is gaining in popularity in recent years. Behind the scenes are the 630 active shooting sports instructors who make this program possible.

The first step is to decide if there is a need and if there is enough interest in your county or local community. You can check with existing 4-H clubs if there is an interest in shooting sports. Various sportsman clubs may have members who have children, relatives or neighbors interested in shooting and are seeking an avenue for them to get involved.  

The next step is formally establishing a club through Michigan State University. All 4-H clubs require a minimum of five youth from two different families and an adult leader to start a club and shooting sports is no different. The club must have a leader but two is preferred. At least one leader must be a certified 4-H shooting sports instructor. Each county 4-H staff can help with the paperwork required to charter a club, request for approval to become a club, acquire an EIN and file a constitution.

Leader certification can be obtained in any one of the five disciplines. Additional certification can be attained in other disciplines as interest and need develops. Muzzleloader is unique in that rifle certification is required before it can be obtained. Currently, there is only one certification workshop offered annually but plans are in the works to provide regional workshops. Watch for further details! In addition, all adult leaders working with youth must go through the Volunteer Selection Process with the local county 4-H staff. Both certifications help insure a safe and successful experience for youth and adult volunteers!

Help from outside resources will greatly enhance the shooting sports experience. Many local sportsman clubs recognize that youth are the future and are willing to accommodate youth involvement. Some have indoor ranges that allow shooting through the winter months. Other sportsman’s organizations such as Whitetails Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation and National Sportsman’s Association are often willing to provide resources and support. Don’t be reluctant to share your goals and ideas with them! Additional helpful information is located on the Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports website.

The major focus of shooting sports is to teach life skills and promote positive youth development. The safe handling and use of bows and firearms is a very important component. However, the 4-H focus is on youth and developing leadership, self-esteem, responsibility and many valuable life skills! Doesn’t that sound like fun!? What are you waiting for? Get started and get involved!

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