The 2017 National Rifle Association Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC) National Championship is scheduled for July 23-28, 2017, at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico.
The pinnacle of NRA's YHEC program, the National Championship brings in the nation's top-ranked youth hunters each year to compete for the title, completing the eight YHEC program challenges, including a Hunter Responsibility Exam, Hunter Safety Trail, Orienteering, Wildlife Identification, .22 rifle, Shotgun, Muzzleloader and Archery, to determine the top YHEC hunter in the country.
"Since the NRA worked alongside the state of New York to introduce the nation's first hunter safety training in 1949, we have been at the forefront of educating and training America's 14 million hunters, including young men and women seeking their place in the outdoors," said NRA President Pete Brownell. "Just as we pride ourselves on being the gold standard of training for millions of American gun owners, we pour that same vigor, knowledge and passion into our YHEC program because we know the key to the future of hunting in America lives within our children and grandchildren."
Each participant has completed a YHEC event at the state level, and is among the most elite hunters in their state's YHEC program. The YHEC National Championship is the zenith of youth hunting education and skills training, and allows youths to demonstrate the skills they have acquired through hunter education to prove they are the future generation of responsible, ethical hunters.
"Hunting is an integral part of America's cultural heritage, as well as a critical wildlife management tool and economic driver. The NRA is committed to protecting and preserving hunting for generations to come," said NRA 1st Vice President Richard Childress. "The future of hunting depends not only on advocacy, but on the hunters of tomorrow, and NRA's YHEC helps our nation's youth find their passion in the outdoors and grow into the next generation of hunters, outdoorsmen and conservationists."
"NRA's YHEC National Championship brings together the country's most enthusiastic, promising and talented young hunters and outdoor athletes to test their hard-earned skills and lessons learned from leaders and mentors in YHEC programs in their communities," said Josh Powell, NRA Executive Director of General Operations. "Youth hunter education lays the groundwork for a lifetime of safe, ethical and enjoyable hunting and outdoorsmanship, and the youths competing in Raton this year represent tomorrow's leaders in preserving our cherished traditions and ways of life."