RALEIGH — Two youth teams affiliated with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission captured second and third place in the senior division at the 31st annual National Youth Hunter Education Challenge. The shooting and outdoors skills competition was held July 24-29 at the Mill Cove Environmental Center at Mansfield University in Mansfield, Pennsylvania.
Forbush High School’s Red Team, coached by Chris Poplin, won second place in the senior division, while Stanly County’s Gray Stone Day School, coached by Eric Efird, took third place honors.
“It’s amazing to see North Carolina teams in the top of the standings year after year,” said Tim Lemon, the state shooting sports coordinator for the Wildlife Commission. “It’s a real testament to how much preparation and practice is put in by the students and the coaches. All of their hard work is reflected in the scores.”
Teams from across the country competed in marksmanship with .22-caliber rifles and black powder rifles at knock-down targets, shotgun on a sporting clay course, and archery at 3-D game targets. Non-shooting events included orienteering, wildlife identification, hunter responsibility exam, and a hunter safety trail test.
Nearly 650 competitors, coaches and parents attended this year’s event, which was sponsored by the National Rifle Association. Since its inception in 1985, YHEC has reached more than a million young men and women.
In North Carolina, teams and individuals qualified for YHEC through the Wildlife Commission’s district and state Youth Hunter Education Tournaments, a component of the Hunter Education Program. Teams are organized on senior (high school) and junior (middle and elementary schools) divisional levels.