Article From Frederick News Post 06/22/2014 Page F2 by Dan Neuland.
THE ANNUAL MARYLAND YOUTH HUNTER EDUCATION CHALLENGE, or YHEC, event was June 14-15 at the Potomac Fish and Game Association in Williamsport.
Over 100 youth from Maryland and Virginia participated in the competition. Once again, the youth members of the Frederick Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, or IWLA, have demonstrated their outstanding marksmanship skills and outdoor knowledge at this event.
The YHEC competition is divided between two age groups, juniors, ages 14 and below and seniors, ages 15 to 18. For the third year in a row, in the junior division, the Frederick County IWLA team placed first overall, followed by Cumberland Outdoor Club team in second place and the Carroll County 4-H Hot Shots team in third place.
In the senior division, the Mayberry Game Club team from Carroll County placed first overall, followed by the Cumberland Outdoor Club team in second place and the Frederick County IWLA team in third place.
As the coach of the Frederick IWLA senior team, I can tell you that I am extremely proud of this team and their third-place showing. This is a very young senior team with only 15 and 16year old members. To finish in the top three spots is indeed a well deserved honor; however, I am most proud that the team was awarded a special plaque for the team that showed the most sportsmanship at the event.
Incidentally, I was truly honored to receive the “Coach of the Year” award. I first became involved in the YHEC program after I was invited by Ben Kelkye, youth program director, of the Frederick IWLA to cover the event in 2007 in my outdoor column for the Frederick News Post. The following year, I again covered the event and enrolled my son, Nathaniel, at age 9 in the program. I have been involved ever since and I encourage parents to start their sons and daughters as soon as they successfully complete the Maryland hunter education program.
The Frederick IWLA has a great youth program for anyone interested in the shooting sports, the outdoors and wildlife conservation. For more than a decade, under the leadership of Kelkye and his outstanding group of parent volunteers, the Frederick IWLA has embraced the YHEC as the main focus of their youth program.
The YHEC program is an extension of the hunter education program; it is designed to further test a participant’s marksmanship skills and increase their personal knowledge of wildlife conservation and hunting safety practices including orienteering with a map and compass. The YHEC competition is divided into eight events or activities that include four shooting events and four hunter responsibility events. The shooting events include archery, muzzleloader, shotgun and rifle challenges. The responsibility events include a hunter responsibility exam, a hunter safety trail challenge, orienteering skills challenge and wildlife identification challenge.
The responsibility events take place in the classroom and in the field. Written multiplechoice tests cover hunter safety and Maryland game law knowledge.
There are also written test components to the muzzleloading challenge and the orienteering skills challenge.
For the rifle shooting event, participants test their marksmanship skills on life-size game animal paper targets at various distances using the off-hand, sitting and prone shooting positions. A scoped .22 rimfire rifle, commonly used to hunt small game is all that is needed; no target rifles are allowed.
The muzzleloading event requires the participants to load and fire five shots from a traditional black powder side-lock or a modern in-line ignition muzzleloader at a life-size game animal paper target. Competitors are scored on their target score combined with the results of the muzzleloading knowledge exam.
The archery challenge requires each participant to shoot 30 arrows at life-size 3-D game animal targets along a trail through the forest that simulates hunting conditions. The Frederick IWLA youth program is supported by the Tuscarora Archery Club who deserves a good deal of credit and gratitude for the success of our youth in the archery event.
The shotgun activity is always very challenging as contestants test their wingshooting skills on a fivestand course. Clay targets are thrown as singles or doubles from a shooting tower platform and from launchers that are set remotely, again to simulate hunting conditions including clay “rabbit” targets that roll and bounce along the ground.
In each of the shooting events, no target equipment is allowed, only common hunting firearms and bows.
This rule keeps the competition fair to all contestants with a wide range of abilities.
The Frederick ILWA youth program is a quality program thanks to all the contributions from their adult leaders and community volunteers that contribute a considerable amount of time and resources for the youth members.
Several of the Frederick IWLA youth members will be participating in the NRA International YHEC event held in Mansfield, Pennsylvania, on July 20-25. I wish good luck to all Maryland participants who will proudly represent our state at this great event.
For more information: http://www.marylandyhec.org/.
Contact Dan Neuland at: email@example.com