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Commission announces Youth Hunter Education Skills Tournament championship

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will host the 43rd annual Youth Hunter Education Skills Tournament (YHEST) state championship April 24.

Due to COVID restrictions, the participants will showcase their shooting and outdoor knowledge skills at ranges across the state to comply with safety and gathering guidelines. Each event will be under the observation of Wildlife Commission staff, with scores being submitted electronically to declare the senior and junior champions.

“This year had its challenges, but the students rose to the occasion,” said Carissa Daniels, outreach manager with the Wildlife Commission. “Being able to compete in YHEST has given everyone a sense of normality, and the opportunity to practice and promote safe shooting sports and wildlife education. It’s important to our state’s wildlife conservation efforts that we continue to cultivate the next generation of hunters.”

The Commission conducted 85 district competitions in March, which serve as qualifiers for the state competition, with 217 teams participating from 130 public and private schools, homeschool associations and 4-H clubs. This number was down from past years due to the pandemic, but still considered a success.

Competition is conducted on senior (high school) and junior (middle and elementary schools) divisional levels, with overall team and individual awards based on aggregate scores in all events. The first-place champions from each district and individual event will advance to the state competition and compete in rifle, shotgun and archery marksmanship and a hunter responsibility exam.

Gray Stone Middle School and Gray Stone High School will represent District 6 in the junior and senior team championships, respectively.

The state championship represents an opportunity for competitors who advanced from district events to showcase shooting and outdoor skills as well as knowledge learned through the Commission’s Hunter Education Program.

While YHEST is for students 18 years and younger, the Commission offers free hunter education courses and advanced hunter education on a regular schedule for all ages. For more information, go to ncwildlife.org/huntered or call 919-707-0031.