Sampson County’s Coharie Shooting League opened up its gun club to area students this past Tuesday for the annual Youth Hunter Education Skills Tournament.
“Twenty-three teams are here this year. They came from Sampson, Bladen, Harnett, Cumberland, Columbus, Hoke, Robeson, Scotland, and Brunswick counties,” shared hunter education specialist Kevin Crabtree, listing all of the counties he is over in District Four. “This is the largest District Four tournament.”
“From Sampson County, there are six schools represented — Lakewood, Union, Midway, Hobbton, Harrells Christian Academy, and New Life Christian Academy,” Crabtree added, noting that Harrells and New Life have to two teams, junior and senior.
To compete in the tournament, the students in their school’s hunter education team must pass a hunter education course and be hunter education certified.
The N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission describes its free hunter education courses as “more than a firearm safety course, instruction includes ethics and responsibility, conservation and wildlife management, wildlife identification, survival and first aid, specialty hunting and tree stand safety…Courses are a minimum of 10 hours, taught by wildlife officers, hunter education specialists and certified volunteer instructors.”
During the tournament, the students participate, as individuals and as teams, in a variety of competitions including shotgun, rifle, archery, and hunter skills, explained Crabtree.
According to information on the N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission website, the shotgun competition tests the students’ ability to hit clay targets released by a trap machine, the rifle competition tests the students’ shooting accuracy from four different positions - prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing, and the archery competition requires that students to correctly use a bow and arrow to hit targets from four varying distances. The hunter skills competition has two components, a 50 question exam that is taken prior to the tournament and an orienteering excercise done the day of the tournament where students are given compasses and asked to find pre-determined markers in the woods.
“The competition gives the hunter education graduates an opportunity to practice and use the skills they have learned,” noted Crabtree of the importance and purpose of the tournament.
Although the teams come to compete and hopefully win, practicing safety is another significant aspect of the tournament.
“Even if they don’t hunt in the future, which I think all of my students will, but it’s still good to know about hunter safety in an area where there is a lot of hunting,” said Tim Warren, agriculture teacher at Hobbton High School who took nine students to the tournament. “You know, we don’t really know how many lives we save by teaching hunter safety but it does save lives. Yes, it’s a competition but the main thing that I want them to learn is safety; that’s more important that winning.”
However, Hobbton did well in the tournament. “We had one student, Reid Tyler, place second in archery. He scored 195 and had four dead center shots,” Warren noted.
John Fortner, Lakewood High School’s agriculture teacher who took 12 students to the tournament, shared that “the kids enjoy the day because it relates to what they are interested in, agriculture and FFA, and it teaches them to be safe with firearms which is important since guns and hunting are big things in our community.”
Lakewood also performed well in the tournament, placing seventh overall, reported Fortner.
“One of students, Dillon Pilkington, also got a perfect 200 score in shotgun. He was the third best shotgun shooter there,” added Fortner.
Other winners from the tournament include Quinton Butler from New Life Christian Academy who won the junior rifle competition, the New Life Christian Acdemy junior team that placed second in all four competitions and placed second overall, the Hobbton senior team that placed third in the hunter skills competition, the Lakewood senior team that placed second in the rifle competition, the Union senior team that placed second in the shotgun competition, and the Harrells Christian Acdemy junior team that placed third in the shotgun and hunter skills competitions and third overall.
For more information about the hunter education courses and the tournament, visit http://www.ncwildlife.org/Hunting/LearnResources/HunterEducation.aspx
For more information about Coharie Shooting League, visit http://csl-idpa.com.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.