Want to get your child involved in the shooting sports? Sure, hunting and plinking are fun, but why not get them involved in a program where they can learn, compete, and make friends!
Many shooting competitions offer youth/junior divisions, but program involvement will help your child not only develop marksmanship skills, but build life skills such as teamwork, accountability, leadership, and confidence. There are several youth marksmanship programs available, from recreation to highly competitive. Take a look at some of the programs below to find the one (or two) that’s best for your child:
Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC)
NRA’s Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC) provides a fun environment for kids 18 and under to improve their hunting, marksmanship and safety skills. From rifle, bow and muzzleloader shooting at life-sized targets, to wildlife identification, map and compass orienteering and more, YHEC participants can get hands-on training in eight skill areas, giving them expertise both shooting and hunter responsibility events.
3 Gun Experience (3GE)
3 Gun matches are timed events in which competitors move through various stages engaging in targets using a pistol, rifle and shotgun. The NRA 3 Gun Experience (3GE), presented by Smith & Wesson, is designed to introduce new and intermediate shooters to the world of 3 Gun. This safe, family-fun, mildly competitive recreational shooting program will be your stepping stone into the world of 3 Gun.
NRA National Junior Shooting Camps
National Junior Shooting Camps, conducted at ranges around the country, provide a high quality training opportunity to junior shooters in rifle, pistol and shotgun disciplines. Top-level coaches in the appropriate discipline provide top-quality training to the athletes. NRA offers camps for advanced and intermediate juniors. There is also a Junior Olympic Shooting Camps, hosted by USA Shooting and supported by the NRA and the Civilian Marksmanship Program.
Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program
From a young shooter’s first BB gun to sophisticated air rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, pistols, and rifles, the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program offers family-fun and enjoyment that can last a lifetime. Qualification shooting is an informal, year-round recreational shooting activity that provides incentive awards for developing and improving marksmanship skills. Progression is self-paced and scores are challenging but attainable. Performance is measured against established par scores and any shooter who meets or exceeds those scores is entitled to the corresponding recognition awards for that rating.
Brownells/ NRA Day
Brownells / NRA Day events provide adults, youth, families, hunters, sportsmen, competitors – literally everyone – the opportunity to come together under a formal program to learn, experience, share, and grow in appreciation of the shooting sports. The event themes offered in the program are designed for discovery. They provide exposure to the many different activities available in shooting sports and offer participants the opportunity to explore them in a safe, controlled environment.
National 4-H Shooting Sports
The National 4-H Shooting Sports Program was created to teach marksmanship, the safe and responsible use of firearms, the principles of hunting and archery, and much more. State level 4-H clubs have opportunities for youth to get involved in individual or team competitive shooting. There is also a National 4-H Shooting Sports Championship each summer which hosts Shotgun, Air Rifle, Air Pistol, Smallbore Rifle, Smallbore Pistol, Compound Archery, Recurve Archery, Muzzleloading Rifle and the Hunting Skills, Wildlife ID/Management, and Decision Making events.
Boy Scouts of America
The Boy Scouts of America offers several marksmanship opportunities for new and intermediate shooters. From education, competition, and recreation, Boy Scouts provides resources for troops to get involved in the shooting sports such as cowboy action, chalk ball (similar to paintball but is shot at targets down a range with chalk based ammo), competitive pistol, and multi-gun airsoft.
Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation
The Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation (SSSF) offers a variety of fun, team-based shooting tournaments in both the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) and Scholastic Action Shooting Program (SASP). These programs are open to student athletes aged elementary through college.
Does your child want to go to the Olympics? USA Shooting is dedicated to the development of Youth Olympic Shooting Sports. They train dedicated junior athletes in the hopes to one day compete in the Olympic Games, Pan American Games, World Shooting Championships and other international competitions. There are many programs available through USA Shooting and partner organizations like Progressive Position Air Pistol (PPP) and the Civilian Marksmanship Program.
Getting your child involved in the shooting sports is a great way for them to learn proper and safe firearms handling, develop their marksmanship skills, and meet other kids with similar interests. Not to mention, programs like these will also allow you to pass along your knowledge and share your passions with your family.