By: Kyle Grammatica
The Foundation recently provided grant funding for two outdoor education programs: the Lakeland-based Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC) and Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW). These programs introduce children, teenagers, and women to outdoor shooting sports and hunting. The YHEC program has about 52 members while BOW has around 80 new participants every year.
Each program teaches shotgun safety, shooting, and hunting. Previously, both YHEC and BOW shared a set of old shotguns that were heavy and prone to jamming. They were also ill-fitted for kids and women with smaller frames, which caused the participants unnecessary pain from recoil. Low accuracy and lingering soreness discouraged participants from trying shotgun shooting again.
To adequately provide shotgun education, YHEC and BOW clearly needed new guns, so the Foundation provided a $4,840 grant. The new shotguns needed to be hardy, capable of handling thousands of rounds before wearing down. They also needed to be adjustable so different body types and ages could use them. Price was also a concern, as the project manager, Jason Tackett, wanted them to be affordable for new shooters in case any participant wanted to buy their own. Eventually the brand TriStar was chosen and 10 new shotguns were purchased.
The new shotguns have been used in 12 different events by more than 150 shooters, including YHEC practices and state meets, sporting clay tournaments, and women shotgun training courses. The response to the new shotguns has been overwhelmingly positive. Participation in shotgun shooting increased by 100% and target hits increased by 10%-20%. Eight and nine year old YHEC participants can now join in during shotgun practice and contribute to their teams’ score. The YHEC kids even participated in an adult sporting clays tournament using the new shotguns.
Grants like these inspire new generations of sportsmen and women, and educate kids and adults about safe and responsible gun use. Shooting sports and hunting keep our outdoor heritage alive and give people the opportunity to connect with nature. To support our work and fund grants like these, donate here.