Arkansas scores at NRA event

The nation’s number one junior overall individual hunter education youth is Zach Meyer of Heber Springs.  He joins his Arkansas Junior Mossy Oak Team members Ethan Cresswell, Kathryn Bechdoldt, Baylee Tims, & Elizabeth Marsh who earned 2nd place overall junior team honors as well.   No team from Arkansas has ever placed in the top 3 at this long standing NRA event.  What an accomplishment!

The ten Cleburne County 4-H Shooting Sports members Zach Meyer, Kathryn Bechdoldt, Ethan Cresswell, Baylee Tims, Elizabeth Marsh, Brad Skelton, Andy Hansson, Nick Meyer, Trevor Torres, Alexis Sample and 27 coaches, leaders, and family members traveled to Raton, New Mexico, for the 28th NRA International Youth Hunter Education Challenge (IYHEC) held July 21-26, 2013, at the NRA Whittington Center. 

By placing 2nd overall junior team at the June Arkansas NRA/4-H YHEC, the Arkansas Junior Real Tree Team members Brad Skelton, Andy Hansson, Nick Meyer, Trevor Torres & Alexis Sample each received a $595 registration scholarship from the Arkansas Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to attend IYHEC.  Arkansas Junior Mossy Oak team members paid their own way to IYHEC with the help of private donations.  All ten youth cooked and sold smoked pork shoulders to raise money to help cover travel expenses.   Thanks to all who supported these Cleburne County 4-H shooters who competed at IYHEC.

There were 126 junior and 167 senior shooters with 23 junior and 25 senior five-member teams from across America competing for first, second, or third place medals and shooting equipment.  Cleburne County shooters were among 43 Arkansas youth to compete at IYHEC.

IYHEC has eight competitive events to be finished in four days.  The four shooting events are Archery 3-D targets (30 targets), Muzzleloader metal knock-down targets (15 targets) plus a 30 question test, Shotgun sporting clays (30 shots), and .22 Rifle metal knock-down targets (30 shots).   The four responsibility events are Responsibility Exam (a 60 question test), Safety Trail (a 20-station, pre-determined trail, designed to simulate actual hunting conditions and situations), Compass/Orienteering (a written test and a field compass skills course), and Wildlife Identification (30-station course designed to simulate actual North America wildlife-sign (animal mount, head, wing, foot, fur, feather, skull, track, scat) encounters while outdoors.)

Zach Meyer earned 1st place overall junior IYHEC individual by placing 1st in Archery and Orienteering, 2nd in Muzzleloader, and 3rd in .22 Rifle.  Zach was rewarded with 5 medals, 1 plaque, a muzzleloader rifle, gun case, compound bow, a dozen arrows, a knife, a case of shotgun shells, and a guided Pennsylvania deer hunting trip.

The Arkansas Junior Mossy Oak Team earned 2nd place overall junior IYHEC team by placing first in Archery, Muzzleloader, & Orienteering, and 2nd in .22 Rifle.   The team received a plaque and all five team members received a muzzleloader rifle, gun case, compound bow, a dozen arrows, a knife, and a case of shotgun shells. 

Although the Arkansas Junior Real Tree team members did not receive any awards, they had a lot of fun competing, practicing, and attending all the other fun activities during the week.

Coaches could also compete at this event.  Of the 35 coaches that participated, 10 were from Arkansas with 3 from Cleburne County 4-H.   Scott Cresswell, Lawrence Meyer, and John Horton competed at the same time as the youth shooters.  Coaches did not take the compass test but went through the compass course and they did not take the muzzleloader test and shot all targets in the standing position.

Lawrence Meyer, for the second year in a row, placed 3rd as overall coach participant.  He received a muzzleloader rifle, gun case, a dozen arrow, a case of shotgun shells, and a “Boone Town” DVD.

FluFlu arrow event, Cherokee Run course, LaserShot System, Tug-of-War, Swap Meet Nights, and Turkey Shoot are special activities youth can take part in when they are not competing.

Shooting the “White Buffalo” at the 1,000 yard range, shooting clays at the Five-Stand shotgun range, hiking, checking out the old coal mine, fossil hunting, critter hunting (snakes, elk, lizards, bears, deer), rafting the Arkansas River, and shopping were many of the other fun things that Cleburne County youth  enjoyed during their week in Raton, New Mexico.

Cleburne County 4-H began attending the NRA IYHEC in 1998 with two shooters.  1998 was also the beginning for Arkansas to send competitors to IYHEC with just 3 junior shooters of which two were from Cleburne County.  Except for one year, Cleburne County 4-H Shooting Sports shooters have attended IYHEC each year. 

Over the years individuals and teams from Cleburne County Shooting Sports have won medals as individuals and teams in competitive events at the national level.   In 2007 senior Aaron Carr (Cleburne Co. 4-H Shooting Sports) who placed 2nd became the first Arkansas senior to place as an overall individual competing in all 8 events.  In 2012 Zach Meyer (Cleburne County) who placed 2nd became the second Arkansas junior to place as an overall junior after Hunter Howard of Hempstead County who placed 1st in 2009. And this year Cleburne County’s Arkansas Junior  Mossy Oak Team took 2nd place junior overall team honors with Zach Meyer earning the 1st place junior overall individual honors.  Since 1998 Cleburne County is the first Arkansas team to earn overall team honors and 3 of the 4 overall individuals have been from Cleburne County.  In these 15 years Cleburne shooters have earned 72 medals, 5 plaques, 8 rifles, 8 gun cases, 8 compound bows, 9 dozen arrows, 8 knives, 1 backpack, 1 leather day planner, 1 cleaning kit, 1 case of .22 ammunition, 8 cases of shotgun shells, and 1 guided Pennsylvania deer hunting trip.