The Taos County Young Guns, competing in their first International Youth Hunter Education Challenge, were honored for best demonstrating the qualities and behaviors of responsible hunters during the 2013 IYHEC July 21-26. The team received the F.E. “Bud” Eyman Sportsmanship Award following competition at the NRA Whittington Center southwest of here.
“A total of 303 competitors from 17 states gathered at the Whittington Center to test hunter education graduates on hunter safety, ethics, and marksmanship,” said Jennifer Morgan, Hunter Education coordinator for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.
The Young Guns members are Mateo Romero, 14, Harrison James, 15, and Antonio Romo, 16. They are coached by Miguel and Regina Romero, Anthony Romo and George James.
“The YHEC is a keystone in hunter education,” said Robert L. Davis Jr., NRA YHEC program manager. “It is the only program in the nation that teaches firearm safety, hunter responsibility and wildlife management in conjunction with providing actual field experience in all different hunting methods and all types of game.”
The Bullseye senior team from Dona Ana County finished first in the hunter safety trail event. Eddy County junior Jeffrey Fisk, 14, was third place overall in the shotgun event. All teams represented New Mexico and the nation with superb demonstrations of safety, shooting ability and sportsmanship.
The IYHEC is conducted by the NRA Hunter Services Department of the National Rifle Association of America. The Whittington Center is an independent 501(c) 3 that has no financial ties to the National Rifle Association, although many Whittington shooters are NRA members.
This five-day challenge draws entire families to the Whittington Center for competitions in rifle, archery, muzzleloading, shotgun, orienteering, hunter safety trail, wildlife identification and a hunter responsibility exam. Shooting distances range from 20 to 75 yards, and shooters take aim at both life-sized 3-D and steel targets. Participants shoot from the ground and boats, using prone, standing, and sitting positions under simulated hunting conditions.
Contributing to the program’s success were more than 100 volunteers who shared their knowledge and assisted with program operations. Included were state hunter education instructors, parents and area residents, all donating their time to preparing participants for a lifetime of safe hunting enjoyment.
Logo courtesy New Mexico Department of Game and Fish