One of the most comprehensive youth shooting programs in Arkansas is the Arkansas Youth Hunter Education Challenge.

This year, the state championship match was held from June 7 through June 9 at the C.A. Vines 4-H Center near Little Rock and was attended by over 500 competitors, coaches, volunteers and attendees.

YHEC is a youth based shooting, hunting and outdoor challenge competition where youth compete in four shooting and four non-shooting outdoor events.

After all the shots were fired and the scores totaled, the Guns and Roses team from Faulkner County won first place in the senior division, while the Ozark Youth Shooting team from Benton County won first place in the junior division.

The Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC) is best described as “advanced hunter education.”

YHEC takes the basic hunter education course, which is taught and required in all states, and transitions it into a program where youth are taught how to shoot a .22 rifle, shotgun, muzzle loader and bow.

Youth are also taught outdoors skills, such as how to use a compass and map, wildlife identification, gun and outdoor safety, state hunting rules, first aid and survival skills.

All the subjects that are taught in a 10 hour hunter education class are developed in a year around youth outdoors training program.

Now in its 22nd year in Arkansas, there are over 25 counties/teams that are involved with YHEC.

In the individual overall competition, senior division, was won by Tommy Newsom of the Faulkner County Guns and Roses team.

Nick Myers of Cleburne County won second place, while Devon Allen of Poinsett County won third place.

In the junior division, Hunter Stover of the Ozark Youth Shooting team, Benton county won first place.

Logan Tucker of Faulkner County’s Young Guns team won second place, and Annie Downum also of the Ozark Youth Shooting team won third place.

In the team competition, Guns and Roses won first place overall.

Team members included Ali Verkler, Jesse McClellan, Julie Newsom, Nick Massey and Tommy Newsom.

The junior Faulkner team Young Guns won second place.

Team members include Aaron Bickford, Anna Brock, Jude Harrell, Lawson Casey and Logan Tucker.

In individual scores, senior age division Tommy Newsom also won second place in archery and muzzle loader and third place in .22 rifle.

Nick Massey won third place in compass and orienteering.

Joshua Brock won third place in shotgun.

Verkler won second place in safety trail.

In the junior age division Tucker also first place in safety trail, second place in archery and third place in .22 rifle.

Anna Brock also placed third in safety trail.

According to YHEC State Director Gary Jobe,

“Many youth learn to shoot and compete with just a shotgun, bow or rifle, and they become good at it,” YHEC state director Gary Jobe said. “At YHEC, the youth compete in eight events. They shoot a .22 rifle course, a shotgun sporting clays course, a 3-D archery course and a muzzle loader course.

“In addition to these shooting events, they must study to compete in a compass and orienteering course, a wildlife identification course, shoot/don’t shoot safety course and take a hunter responsibility exam. To do all these events and do them well, these young competitors must be dedicated. It is one thing to shoot a shotgun well but something else to be able to shoot and do all eight events well. These are Arkansas’s best of the best young shooters.”

In July, the top six teams will advance to the National YHEC Championship in Mansfield, Pennsylvania.

Youth from all over the United States will attend and compete for top YHEC Honors.

Last year, Arkansas lead the competition with the top scoring junior and senior individual competitors in the nation.

Brothers Nick Myers won the junior division and Zach Myers won the senior division.

Arkansas also won over a dozen other individual and team awards.

The teams attending this years National YHEC competition will be sponsored by the Arkansas Friends of NRA, Safari Club International, Arkansas Gun and Cartridge Collectors Club, Arkansas Rifle and Pistol Association and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Other YHEC sponsors include Academy Sports and Outdoors, Federal Ammunition and Henry Repeating Arms.

Special awards presented at the 2018 State YHEC championship were: Sportsmanship Of the Year Award presented to Nolan Williams of Union County.

Volunteer of the Year Award presented to Todd Bittle of the Ozark Youth Shooting team and

Coach of the Year Presented to Teddy Morehead of Izard County.

YHEC is open to all boys and girls ages 10 to 18 that have an interest in shooting, hunting and the outdoors.

For more information about Jobe at aryhec@hotmail.com.