The Sunday before the competition began, teams were out sighting in rifles and bows, reviewing exam material and prepping with their coaches, who are also allowed to participate against each other in their own division.
While competitors start practicing several months in advance in preparation for YHEC, they all appreciate some extra time practicing for events before the competition begins and their scores are tallied.
You either know it or you don't! The Wildlife Identification Challenge is another difficult, yet educational challenge for YHEC participants, who needed to identify 30 animals based on a hide, skull or track.
The muzzleloader event's past rules went up in smoke because this year, muzzleloader scores weren't partially based on an exam. Instead, it's now entirely based on participants shooting 15 targets worth 20 points each.
Not only were there some changes to the challenges this year at YHEC, but there were other aspects updated, as well. A nightly raffle was held, and the inaugural raffle winner took home a pack as his prize!
With eight challenges at YHEC, the Cherokee Run is the most intriguing, as it's more like an obstacle course, including, but not limited to, starting a fire via steel and flint, shooting a recurve bow and throwing a tomahawk.
YHEC is a competition, but at its heart, it's dedicated to educating youth about hunting through exciting challenges, as well as some fun games. One such event is the Flu-Flu Shoot, where participants try to hit a foam ball out of midair with blunted arrows from a recurve bow.
The national Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC) is far more than meets the eye. At first glance, it may only seem like another shooting competition, but when observed in context, it showcases the wide array of firearm proficiency, skills and knowledge that the competition's young men and women have obtained over the course of months of practice in preparation for the event and—more importantly—the safety that we should all practice while afield. You can get a closer look at the event with the photo gallery embedded above.