4-H Shooting Sports Programs

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4-H Shooting Sports Programs
4-H National Shooting Sports (logo).png
National 4-H Shooting Sports Logo
Motto "To make the best better"
Formation Circa 1902, United States
Type Youth organization
Legal status Non-profit organization
Purpose "Engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development."
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Region served
6.5 million members in the United States, ages 5 to 19
Main organ
National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA))
Parent organization
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Website 4-hshootingsports.org

4-H Shooting Sports Programs are part of 4-H in the United States, a youth organization administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), with the mission of "engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development."[1] The name represents four personal development areas of focus for the organization: head, heart, hands, and health.

4-H program and philosophy[edit]

The 4-H organization has over 6.5 million members in the United States, from ages eight to eighteen, in approximately 90,000 clubs.[2]

The goal of 4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, and life skills of youth through mostly experiential learning programs. Though typically thought of as an agriculturally focused organization as a result of its history, 4-H today focuses on citizenship, healthy living, science, engineering, and technology programs.[citation needed]

Today, 4-H and related programs exist in over 80 countries around the world. Each of these programs operates independently, but cooperatively through international exchanges, global education programs, and communications. Clubs and related organizations now exist in many other countries as well; the organization and administration varies from country to country.

The 4-H motto is "To make the best better", while its slogan is "Learn by doing" (sometimes written as "Learn to do by doing").

The focus of all 4-H programs is the development of youth as individuals and as responsible and productive citizens.

The National 4-H Shooting Sports Program helps Youths learn marksmanship, the safe and responsible use of firearms, the principles of hunting and archery, and much more. The activities of the program and the support of caring adult leaders provide young people with opportunities to develop life skills, self-worth, and conservation ethics.[3]

Shooting Sports[edit]

4-H shooting sports programs are run by trained and certified volunteers. Any adult over the age of 18 may become a certified volunteer to run or assist in a shooting sports program. Youth over the age of 16 may be certified to participate as a Youth Leader.[4]

To begin a 4-H shooting sports program, an adult contacts their cooperative extension service to locate a training program in their area to get certified. Training programs are often weekend events staffed by unpaid volunteers. Room and board are often provided and included in the cost for the training which is nominal. The weekend program is divided into multiple segments. The core of the program is youth development. The first part of the program, a volunteer must demonstrate proficiency to his or her instructor within the chosen discipline. This is followed by training in youth development. Students then divide up and demonstrate their training skills by training other students and receive their certificates. To run a program all volunteers must register and participate in orientation with their Extension Educator.[5]

Youth Development[edit]

Students from 8 to 18 are welcome to participate. Age is less important than maturity, the ability to follow rules, and the motor skills to handle a firearm or bow safely.

The 4-H slogan is "Learn by doing". Students are given a period of classroom training followed by hands on training. As students develop skills they are encouraged to assist younger students as coaches. This allows students to develop skills and confidence leading to true self-esteem. Not all students will excel academically nor will they excel athletically, shooting sports is one area where size, physical strength and memorization skills are not necessary to achieve excellence.[6]


While 4-H provides the education, training, and support to start a program, many programs are run and financed through local gun clubs. Gun clubs often provide ranges, rifles, bows, targets, arrows and ammunition for the program. Many clubs are looking for qualified people to run a youth shooting sports program.


Safe handling of bows and firearms is a primary concern of 4-H shooting sports. Students are drilled in safe handling procedures and are encouraged to develop at their own pace.

4-H shooting sports programs are among the safest programs run by 4-H. Insurance costs for shooting sports are among the lowest of all 4-H programs. The only other program with insurance costs as low as shooting sports is sewing.


  1. ^ "YDPRptBk10.qxd" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 25, 2009. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  2. ^ National 4-H Council, National 4-H Headquarters Archived 2007-10-02 at the Wayback Machine., and e-mail dated December 3, 2007 from Suzanne Le Menestrel, National Program Leader, Youth Development Research, National 4-H Headquarters
  3. ^ 4-H shooting Sports Web site, "Focusing on Youth Development"
  4. ^ Get Involved
  5. ^ Instructor Training Resource
  6. ^ Youth Development