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PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2016 11:14 pm 
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I have noticed a few folks don't like or care for 4-H Shooting Sports. As a Level II Instructor, who trains and certifies new instructors, I'm always looking for ways to improve our program. Is there some grave error that we are committing, yet aren't aware of? I really am looking for guidance on this.
Our goal is to train our shooters on safe firearm handling and all aspects of the sport. We concentrate on building better citizens and use shooting as the teaching tool. We do compete, but it's not the sole reason for the program. Let me know what you think, please.


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 10:32 am 
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Location: Valencia County 4-H, NM USA
4-H project leader for 13 years now. (L3 & NCDS Rifle - L2 Pistol & Shotgun)
Safety instruction is our day 1 thru month 1 priority (in terms of getting them started).
We tend to have very few (but do have some) that come just to throw lead downrange ... as long as they are having fun it's cool.
We do try and move them to a competition mode within a few months though ... we want them to stick with the sport and if they can have a goal, they are much more likely to stick with it.

Hmmmm ... 4-H overall ... some of my issues

1) The largest issue I have ... much inconsistency across the nation, state, districts and counties. Far too many 4-H organizations make up their own rules ... in a pick and choose fashion. Example: for a time here in NM we had districts picking and choosing rules that disqualified our county from shooting in them ... picking gun types different than what we use ... i.e we use National 4-H rules. This was pure parochialism ... and while irritating, did not bother us too much as we had other "real" events we could go shoot in ... either USA Shooting or NRA. When someone comes to me complaining about this type of rule picking .. all I can tell them is to go compete somewhere else as "this is 4-H" ... there are plenty of venues to shoot "real" rules that are by a rulebook.
Here in NM at the State Match (for 4-H Seniors) our qualification for Nationals, we use National rules, but below that at district and county level, that is not always the case ... slowly getting there though.
In my opinion --- we have a set of rules used at Nationals, everyone should use those.

2) Ignorant leaders ... even those that are "state approved". Leaders bringing kids to even National comps not knowing the rules ... a few years ago a state came to Nationals and thought Silhouette shooting was against a B-34(man type) target. Wrong ammo, wrong gun calibers, etc. And I'm not saying that NM is immune from this, we had a shooter show up to our state match last weekend with a detachable stock for his pistol in the rifle event.

3) Abusive leaders ... too many times this goes unchecked. No excuse for leaders berating their athletes or other range/match officials.

4) OK maybe I'm a prude (I don't think so) ... We have a dress code ... enforce it. Send a kid home once and they tend not to do it again ... Oh, yeah, I guess we gotta include parents here too (!!!*%##$^@(&%$@&!!!!).

5) NM has a (maybe?) unique issue. Our signup period ends about 10 weeks before our State match ... we have many shooters that come to state ill prepared and don't really know the rules that they are shooting by ... kinda goes back to #1 above. Now, we are thinking of changing our qualifier to October to encourage the project thru the summer months ... our county shoots rifle & pistol projects year round, only "taking a break" for our State Fair in Sept., but many of the shooters continue to practice thru that time period anyway.

6) Finally lack of volunteer support. Many of the disciplines are absent of leaders ... not at all of members wanting to shoot, and parents wanting their kids to shoot, but too many of the parents want the 4-H programs to be babysitting times ... a time to "get away" from their kids ... we (our R&P projects) require that our parents be onsite during practices ... maybe why we have as many volunteer leaders as we do in these projects.

Now, that all said ... where do we as a nation get many/most of our best shooters? From the clubs and 4-H projects. There are programs, such as JROTC in the high schools, but these programs are hamstrung in that while they can shoot "pellet rifles", firearms are banned ... specifically 22 rifles, 22 pistols and shotguns.
Headway is being made with SCTP and SPP programs, and if you have time and an inclination to instruct/teach/coach shotgun or pistol ... look into those ... they are really fun.

Ok ... as you can tell you hit a babble spot with the question. Many on this board are great junior coaches and instructors ... stick with us.


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 11:37 am 
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Jhmartin is a great coach and a great guy w tremendous experience.


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 3:20 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 10:20 pm
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Location: Colorado
I think Joel covered the bases. The biggest issue I've seen is inconsistency with the State adopted rules and the Nationals governing rules, and in Colorado there is a real issue (IMHO) with the rules as determined by the State versus the rest of the world.

If they want a solid message and direction they all need to say the same things under the same umbrella. I think its great when they allow clubs to explore and do more local things, i.e. cowboy shooting or high power, but when looking universal across all the states some sort of consistency would be good.
i.e. - How do you qualify for Nationals? Colorado doesn't even offer some of the events shot at Nationals.
- What rulebook to use for events in the state that are offered at Nationals? Colorado has certain rules that no place in the World recognizes (in precision must remove the dot completely in order to score a 10...)
- Can you qualify for Nationals more than once in the same event? Colorado you cant so you have to be selective on your timing and what composes the team.

As a leader/instructor who has taken teams to Nationals its amazing to hear from all the different states all the different hoops everyone jumps through. It shouldnt be that hard. There also appears to be a big chip on the National 4-H shoulder regarding precision sports. I've heard all the excuses but really I'm not sure who or why they wanted to make a different distinction. I would think the Nationals for 4-H should be a showcase of top tier shooters in the country much like you will see at NRA, CMP, and the USAMU matches and they would celebrate the success, but they've really orchestrated it so that it isnt the case which is unfortunate for a lot of families who spend a lot of money making the trip out.

BTW Jhmartin is a great coach and great guy with tremendous experience. ;)

GS


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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 10:43 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 02, 2010 9:09 pm
Posts: 31
Location: North Texas
I will third the statements about Joel, his input as well as cobelties are on target. I have also been involved in the 4h world. In general the 4h is much like any other activity, it is what you make of it. We had 3 kids at JOS over a couple of year stretch and 4h proved to be a valuable tool to help those kids. 4h made access to local ranges possible by providing a known comfortable entity that would be difficult for a startup junior rifle club to duplicate. On the negative side, it is difficult to find those people like Joel that will stick with it beyond the son or daughters involvement. Another negative was mentioned in your request for feedback. It is very difficult to provide a program that fits the need for an intro to competition and provide a place for the once or twice a year kids that want to plink. It takes a dedicated coach or two for one group and a lot of parents to herd cats for the other. It proved very difficult for two or three volunteers to do both. I don't see the goals meshing well. I for one was very disenchanted by the pressure received to gear the program away from competition.


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PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2016 5:47 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2004 2:49 pm
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Location: Valencia County 4-H, NM USA
Well, I can say that we are a non-typical 4-H program.

For one we are blessed with an agent that trusts our judgements (the 4-H leaders of all the SS disciplines) and pretty much has our back against not only the other state/district/county agents as well as any , well what can you say ... "interesting" parents and members. We are not the "required" leaders in the county, if someone complains, they are told to start their own project and not interfere with what has/is working.

In addition, we've encouraged the parents that want to be leaders to join the private club where we shoot smallbore, and except for the 4-H liability umbrella, we can pack up our kids and personal gear and walk and start a team at that club anytime we want. It is not a big program, but it is primarily a group of leaders that want to be competition focused. Kids/parents that are there to do the checkbox of a shooting sports project are not turned away, but if they are not traveling to the comps ... even the 3-P Air comps up in Albuquerque, and interacting with those who are tend to drop away after a season or two.

Just as anything else, this is a time commitment, and at times wrapped around what the leaders can do.
Those that improve are those that make this a priority ... over softball, baseball, volleyball, football, family vacations, etc. The vacations are the competitions .... or is it the other way around???


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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 9:28 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:16 pm
Posts: 75
After coaching two seasons, and assisting three more, I have some definite ideas about 4H Shooting Sports.

First, 4H has too many irons in the fire to focus exclusively on shooting sports. In Texas, the county ag office administers 4H for a county. Depending on the staffing level and the efficiency of the county ag office staff, shooting sports can get lost in the shuffle of the many 4H programs being offered. The fact that students can choose between raising a steer, designing fashion clothes, learning hunter safety, shooting 3-Position Smallbore, and many other 4H programs is not particularly a negative, it is just that with so many available choices of activities it tends to severely dilute the available administration, coach, parent, and student time and effort for the small part of 4H that is 4H shooting sports.

Second, here in Texas 4H does not do a good job at training *new* Rifle coaches, nor do they do a good job of informing new coaches of the available shooting competitions and their rules, and the new coaches don't receive information about competitive events and their rules until shortly before the events are to be held. Newer students and especially those with very new coaches are at a big disadvantage compared to those from older more established programs, where adults know the ropes from having attended prior events. It should not be so difficult for a new student or a new coach to learn important competition details from 4H administration well in advance of a competition, such as whether a 3-P event is to be fired at 50 feet or 50 yards.

In more than one event Texas 4H has been less than forthcoming about posting important information to its target audience. For the first time in my four seasons, Texas 4H has posted on their website information letting coaches, parents and students know exactly what is the selection criteria for a student to make it onto a National Invitational and/or Texas Team. The 2016 Selection Rubric document has so many criteria over and above shooting safety, shooting skills, and dedication to the sport that it looks more like the student is applying to win some sort of community service award, or Eagle Scout badge, rather than applying to participate at a higher level of shooting and joining a national or statewide shooting team.
http://texas4-h.tamu.edu/wp-content/upl ... c_2016.pdf

I have a personal peeve with certain un-named event directors at the Texas State Games shooting competition who choose to walk around displaying large loaded hunting revolvers holstered on their hip, all the while standing in front of the crowd, ostensibly to instruct students and parents on event safety procedures. They are displaying a loaded hogleg while telling folks when and where the students' competition firearms are to be uncased, safety flagged, loaded and fired. As an NRA certified range safety officer I can see no reason why anyone, let alone the person supposed to be the event safety officer, should parade around showing off their open carry big gun in front of people who are there either to shoot or watch their students shoot at paper targets. If these individuals are afraid some person or animal is an immediate danger at the event venue then they should spring for professional site security, hiring suitably kitted-out men and women who are not distracted by trying to run the competition. Showing up as one of the event administrators wearing an open-carry gun does not respect the students nor the families involved, IMHO, but maybe it makes the guy swaggering around carrying his big hogleg out in the open for all the world to see feel more secure somehow.

I am not a fan of 4H shooting sports training. Because each type of shooting requires two full 8-hour days of training, and because Texas is a big state, it can be difficult for a new coach to attend a training session in time to hold a shooting sports program during that school year. We discovered the old coach was retiring, and there was nobody prepared to step in as the new coach. Myself and another person were volunteered. We had to travel 425 miles each way to attend a two-day 4H Rifle Coach session. There was a closer session held earlier in the year only 225 miles distant, but that was not an option because it's date had already passed at the time the old Rifle coach announced his retirement. Our choice was to travel the better part of a thousand miles to the official 4H training, or allow the Rifle program to be canceled for one year.

There are other opportunities for improvement in the official 4H shooting sports training. At the 2012 Rifle session, our instructor handed everyone a thick three-ring-binder of official 4H training documentation, then announced he was not going to follow any sort of outline, he was just going to wing it and talk about whatever came to mind - and that is exactly what he did. For two eight hour days were subjected to a disorganized compendium of jokes, personal anecdotes, and only occasional references to the official 4H training materials. Afterward, myself and my partner agreed we would have been better off to have received the official 4H printed materials in the mail, to study at home, rather than spending the sixteen-plus hours driving to and from the training site and another two days sitting on hard folding chairs listening to a trainer who was just winging it rather than actually trying to train adults.

The last problem with 4H has to do with their requirement that each and every shooting program have at least one adult supervisor who has completed one of those lengthy two-day sessions at some distant location. So it's two days for Rifle and Air Rifle, another two days for Pistol and Air Pistol, and so on. Any small county without the kind of continual year-in-and-year-out multi-adult support to attend these lengthy, distant and expensive training sessions is at a big disadvantage setting up a shooting sports program. I think 4H could combine a rifle and pistol program training session into one sixteen hour training event. They need to get better at training-the-trainers, better at leaving out the anecdotes and disorganized parts, and leaving out the parts about setting up the pseudo-gun club aspects, things which our club hired lawyers to do properly. In a state where there is a concealed-carry instructor on every street corner, it seems likely we could obtain more trainers, who would hold more frequent, shorter, and more effective 4H shooting sports coachs' training sessions.

Unless 4H hires has a stable base of instructors capable of training students to a national level of expertise, they will continue to be a secondary shooting program, almost an afterthought among shooting sports programs. By having to rely mostly on volunteer coaches with only limited and possibly ineffective training, and with few (and amateurish) competitive events scheduled during any one school year, these 4H programs are limited to a well-intentioned but small group of coaches who mostly stick around only during the seasons their children participate.

I apologize for the long rant, and for any inability on my part to be concise or clear. I appreciate this discussion; my time in 4H has been extremely rewarding despite my complaints. I was very happy to see one of our 4H students win a rare Civilian Marksmanship Program scholarship in the amount of $1500. This energized our gun club to start awarding $1000 scholarships to each graduating senior who had been active in our 4H shooting program, those funds to help pay for secondary education. The club pays these funds directly to the student's choice of school, be it a technical school, community college, or a four-year university.


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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 11:17 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2004 1:34 pm
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Location: White Sulphur Springs, MT, USA
Texdance said:

Quote:
The last problem with 4H has to do with their requirement that each and every shooting program have at least one adult supervisor who has completed one of those lengthy two-day sessions at some distant location.


I know I am not the only NRA/USAS Certified Coach who has declined to become involved with 4H shooting because of this, as well as the lack of consistency in the 4H shooting programs (due to not all following the 3P Air Rifle Rules - the Blue book- which National 4H originally sponsored along with other shooting organizations).

IMO the 4H program should accept coaches who are already NRA/USAS Certified after that coach does a simple home study and quiz on the 4H specific items. They also need to require all 4H shooting programs use the Blue Book rules if they wish to call themselves a 4H program. This would still allow individual groups to have shooting programs built to their own desires, but not called 4H.


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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2016 5:15 am 
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I do agree with some aspects of what y'all are saying. I understand that some programs may not follow the specific guidelines or rules, but I think most are doing the best they can. We strive to teach firearm safety to youngsters. Competition is a route you can take, but not a must. We don't want it to become what other programs have "evolved" into. If you want to shoot, we teach you to do so. If you want to compete, we can train you to do that, as well. We teach the fundamentals but don't lose sight of the fun this can provide.
I personally know many NRA and CMP instructors and respect the training and commitment they've attained. I can't understand why someone would discredit a program that teaches children firearm safety! PERIOD. We have over 6000 4-H shooters in LA. We appreciate input from anybody and would love to have any help you can provide. The motto of 4-H is "Learn by doing" and we're doing great! Please, find out how you can assist or volunteer to help your local program. These youngsters are willing to learn all we can share with them. Remember, 4-H is finite. It ends when you graduate. These kids are the next generation of possible competitors, shooters and hunters who will enjoy a lifetime of good, safe shooting.


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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 2:44 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 10:20 pm
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Location: Colorado
Just curious as to the point of this thread or what you wanted to accomplish? It sort of has the feeling that you asked for opinions and now don't like the answer provided. I think most people here have been involved in 4-H or still are, and we have a lengthy background and understanding of the program and politics of it. Believe me, we donate and obscene amount of time to youth development and not everyone we coach is in it for competition, some are in it for the pure enjoyment of the sport. That also happens in other platforms as well and 4-H isnt the only avenue to teach youth gun safety or responsibility.

GS


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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 4:35 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:16 pm
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COBelties wrote:
...4-H isnt the only avenue to teach youth gun safety or responsibility.

GS


I have to agree with the above. Many of our students are in the Rifle Program as a family activity. I called them 'the cousins' - groups of actual cousins come and go within our program. Their have their own reasons for participating, and so far none of them has attended any 4H event if it occurs after the regular school year ends in May.

Many of our students have been home schooled, and quite a few are of a religion that allows 'graduation' (and an end all formal schooling) after completing the eighth grade.

Our gun club awards $1000 scholarships to graduating seniors in our 4H program. A couple of years ago I could not give away one to our lone graduating senior. She had finished the eighth grade and completed her legal obligation for schooling under Texas law. Thus she was a 'graduating senior' under their family's view of the world, and there were no plans for any further formal schooling for this young lady. The family thanked us for the scholarship opportunity and gracefully declined.

Then there are the other types of students, the ones whose families just can't or maybe just choose not to spend what it takes for equipment, training and travel expenses that go with higher levels of competition. Every year our range hosts the 22-county 4H district match in May. There will be a wide variety of equipment and rifles (one kid showed up with his hunting rifle, scope and all) but most use either club-supplied rifles or something cheap. There are at most one or two students who have a more elaborate shooting kit - leathers, adjustable butt plate, adjustable diopters, etc. This year the young lady who scored high senior individual was shooting a Bleiker rifle and wearing personalized leathers, so obviously her family supports her shooting in a big way, and hopefully her efforts will be rewarded even more as she continues in the sport. But most 4H families in our area see the sport as something fun to do within the school year, and that's about it.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:17 pm 
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Location: Texas
The one thing that I can not get over is the lack of information provided to coaches parents and shooters. There should be one place to go to get information on events held in any particular state. It seems most completions in Texas are top secret. Maybe it is a failure of the program maybe they don't want your kid to come beat there kids i dont know. It seems to like a terrible way to grow the sport or the program.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:31 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2004 2:49 pm
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Location: Valencia County 4-H, NM USA
Jslaughter wrote:
The one thing that I can not get over is the lack of information provided to coaches parents and shooters. There should be one place to go to get information on events held in any particular state. It seems most completions in Texas are top secret. Maybe it is a failure of the program maybe they don't want your kid to come beat there kids i dont know. It seems to like a terrible way to grow the sport or the program.

Some of this is that the different sanctioning bodies don't talk very well. .... NRA, CMP, & USAS. I think it's the same everywhere, so yes, you do have to spend time learning who to talk to. But as one who sanctions competitions, there are also those who jump up and down and seem to be excited about a match and never show up ... or reserve relay slots and "have to" go ATVing that weekend instead. Do that to me and you won't get another match program ... maybe someone else will get it to them

A central information location would be nice, but most of us have our hand full trying to find the time to do our project leadership. I'd love to say, well, maybe get the state office to handle that, but I know they are running around trying to find time too.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2016 10:08 pm 
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I didn't mean to criticize any other shooting event, organization or competition. I think my reason for posting should have been more specific. How could we make 4-H shooting sports better? Were all pulling in the same general direction with all we do...to teach and guide our children. I appreciate and respect everyone's opinions and am making myself available to help you, if I can. Send me a PM and hopefully I can provide some assistance.
My son and I are headed to 4-H Nationals in two weeks. If some of you are shooting Air Rifle, stop by and visit with Team Louisiana. I'll be the Coach and he's on the team.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2016 1:03 pm 
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I'll see you there, my daughter is on the Texas Air Rifle team.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2016 10:36 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:26 pm
Posts: 25
Location: Big Sky country
Also try to say howdy to the Montana coach, Dale. His family is grown and he's been a big asset to the program. He and two of the Air Rifle team members are from our club.

I've seen some of the situations discussed here -- first attended National in 2009 -- and feel like (hope) we're ahead of most of the curve with our MT program.

( Hi Joel, I hope we can meet sometime.)


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:00 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2004 2:49 pm
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Location: Valencia County 4-H, NM USA
Nope ... we're not at 4-H Nationals this year.
My kids are at Ft Benning at USAS Nationals


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