Saturday, April 29, 2006


I never thought the day would come when I would be driving my 14-year-old daughter around town searching for black powder gun supplies, but that's how I spent my one of my days this week. Yep, my sweet little girl, along with her 16-year-old brother and 12-year-old sister, are involved in muzzle loading.

It all started several years ago when the oldest two expressed an interest in archery through 4-H. I loved the idea for many reasons. It's a sport that all the kids could participate in together - no toting them to five different soccer fields. I also like the emphasis that 4-H puts on safety and sportsmanship.

As the years went on, the younger children began to participate in archery too. Six of my seven children now shoot (The four-year old has to wait a couple of years yet). Teen son has even competed on the national level.

So, what does that have to do with muzzle loading. Well, in order to get more archery practice in, we joined a second 4-H group: Sharpshooters. As soon as the children learned that Sharpshooters offered BB and pellet gun practice, there was no stopping them.

That led to joining YHEC (Youth Hunters Education Challenge) through the NRA. If your kids have a desire for shooting sports, I highly recommend YHEC. It goes way beyond shooting bows and guns. It even goes beyond sportsmanship and safety. They learn all about nature science too. So much so, that I consider it part of their science studies for school. They have a competition every summer that includes 3-D archery, skeet, trap, muzzle loading, hunters safety trail, and animal identification. And the animal ID is not easy. They have to know the subtle differences between species, identify their skulls and tracks, know about their habitats, etc.

So from May to August, I'll be lugging kids to two to three practices a week in order to prepare for the 4-H county shoot, the 4-H state shoot, and the YHEC competition. I thought I chose shooting sports to cut down on drive time?


Alice Gunther said...

Amazing! And how wonderful that your children share this common interest.

I love the photos by the way--seeing all those bows and arrows makes me think of Narnia.

Maureen said...

One of the girls in the photos joined our archery club because of LOTR. I wonder if we'll get any new members this year because of Narnia!

Another nice thing about shooting sports is that the girls are on the same playing field as the boys. Some of our best shooters are girls.

Rebecca said...

Maureen, My oldest ds (almost 10) has a bow, arrows and target and shoots in our backyard (when all the others are in the house! :) )
He really enjoys it but I never thought of getting him into 4H to pursue it more thoroughly. The sharpshooting sounds really cool...Thanks for posting the photos. My son really like them as well.

Maureen said...

Our 4-H group is almost all homeschoolers. But my experience so far has been that 4-H'ers all around are great kids to have around my kids. When my oldest competed at the national level, he had an equiptment malfunction on the last day. The 3 boys competing alongside him, all from different teams, stopped to help him out. The sportsmanship outweighed the need to win at all costs!