UPTON - As in the previous five Wyoming Youth Hunter Education Challenges, champions were crowned and prizes awarded to all contestants. But this year’s event, held June 8, marks the first time the competition was a springboard for teams of young hunters to represent the Cowboy State at the international competition.
Wyoming will be represented by 17 boys and three girls in two senior teams and two junior teams. The majority of the young hunters are from Weston County, plus youth from Jackson, Gillette and Rochford, S.D. The teams practice daily with coaching from members of the Upton Gun Club. Since the official state competition began in Wyoming in 2008,several individual youngsters have represented the Cowboy State at the international competition, but this is the first year Wyoming teams have competed.
After proving their shotgun, .22, muzzleloader and archery marksmanship at the state challenge, they will be the first Wyoming team at the National Rifle Association-sponsored international competition, July 21-26 in Raton, N.M. “The teams are excited to have this opportunity,” said 16-year-old Colton Buckley of Upton. “Everything we’ve heard is that the international is a great experience.”
Anyone who competed in a state youth hunter education challenge is eligible to also compete at the international. But the experience isn’t cheap—it costs each youngster $600 to compete, not including travel and the expenses of the four coaches and chaperones who will also make the trip. Despite the teams’ fundraising efforts, they still need sponsors. Send donations to: Upton Young Guns, c/o Scott Buckley, P.O. Box 165, Upton, WY 82730.
“The ‘Young Guns’ are taking this competition very seriously and will do a great job of putting a great hunting state like Wyoming on the map at the international,” said Jim Dawson, hunter education coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “They really deserve our support and hopefully their migration will prompt other Wyoming teams to compete next year.”
In addition to firearm and archery shooting, the Wyoming young hunters also display their skills in wildlife identification, hunter safety, orienteering and a hunter ethics exam at the international. The teams will be wearing gold and brown jerseys at the opening ceremonies.
Learn more about the NRA’s 28th annual international challenge at yhec.nra.org. To learn more about the Wyoming YHEC teams, call Rick Rothleutner at 307-281-9980.
(Contact: Jeff Obrecht, 307-777-4532)