Upton, WY. – Of all high school state championships – football, golf, soccer, speech/debate, track and field, etc. – none are more “Wyoming” than the state hunting championships.
The 11th annual Youth Hunter Education Challenge, as it’s officially called, will be held June 9 at the Upton Gun Club. Young hunters do not need to qualify in a regional or district tournament to compete. All Wyoming youth 18 and under, and young hunters from neighboring states, too, who have passed hunter education are eligible to showcase their hunting skills, while having a lot of fun.
“I strongly urge every kid who has an interest in shooting sports, animals, competition and adventure to come and take part in the youth hunter education challenge,” said Riley Coburn, a senior girl at Upton High School. “I’ve competed for five years and it’s a fun, fun time and a chance to learn a bunch and display your skills.”
The challenge tests youngsters in sporting-clays style trap shooting, .22, muzzleloader and archery marksmanship, wildlife identification, orienteering and hunter safety judgments.
“The challenge is designed to be a fun event for all participants” said Tristana Bickford, Game and Fish hunter education coordinator. “The members of the Upton Gun Club work tirelessly to make this a fun, memorable event for everyone involved.”
Since it started in 2008, the challenge has been hosted by the Upton Gun Club and officially sanctioned by the National Rifle Association. Participants in both age categories – 15-18 and 14 and under – are eligible to advance to the international competition to be held July 22-27 in Mansfield, Pennsylvania. Wyoming youngsters have competed in the international since 2009, including an official team representing the Cowboy State since 2013. “The youth hunter challenge has provided hundreds of fantastic opportunities for me, including traveling across my state and country, making great friendships, and competing against the finest hunters that my generation has to offer” Coburn said. “The competition has not only trained me to become a better marksman, but it has also shown me how to be a sportsman and an enthusiastic competitor.”
This year Wyoming YHEC is adding the “Cherokee Challenge” — an optional and fun event of hatchet throwing, sling shot shooting and spear throwing. This will be held as the young hunters’ competitive events are wrapping up and will not count towards their score. Family members are encouraged to give the “Cherokee Challenge” a try.
In addition to the department and the gun club, the challenge is sponsored by the Wyoming Friends of the NRA, Cabela’s and a variety of Wyoming businesses. All participants receive a prize for competing.
To participate, per national NRA rules, youngsters need to submit copies of their hunter education card, birth certificate, photo and pay a $10 entry fee. Entry forms are available on the Game and Fish website or at Game and Fish offices.
For more info, contact Rick Rothleutner of the Upton Gun Club at (307) 281-9980.