Shooting Sports and Leadership
The evenings are becoming cooler and hunting season approaches as my son keeps reminding me. His bow fund (a mason jar of cash) is filling steadily, reminding me of the important skills a hobby like hunting can provide. In this case there is value to sacrifice with a goal in mind. Recently we had a local 4-H’er, Brenna Steger, invited to be a part of the state 4-H shooting team as well as compete at the national competition this past summer. Her achievement got me thinking about Special Interest 4-H Clubs, clubs with a specific focus such as shooting sports, and how they can connect our young people with so many other opportunities along with life and career skills. As a member of the 4-H shooting sports club, Team Topshots, Brenna has been able to practice 4-H targeted life skills such as resiliency, goal setting, personal safety, discipline, self-motivation, teamwork, and contribution to a group effort while practicing, traveling, and meeting new people.
Team Topshots volunteer leaders meet with the youth once a month at the Lee County Wildlife Club for target practice in shotgun, rifle, pistol, archery, muzzle loading, and hunter skills. They teach range safety and weapon care. Volunteers like these are a value to our community and I am thankful for the time and energy they put into this special interest area, exposing their members not only to the sport but to the life lessons that come with skill development and competition.
In the educational booth at the Lee Regional Fair, the Team Topshots club outlined life skills learned through shooting sports activities. Safety is the obvious example, but they also highlighted how all the lessons learned in a club meeting can be applied to different areas of life. Taking care of their firearms and tools so nothing is lost or in poor condition is an example of a lifeskill developed and one that is certainly applicable across many daily activities requiring personal discipline.
Fall is a good time for you to copy the example set by young people like Brenna exploring and growing through their hobbies. While attics and garages are cooling off, go dust off those gardening tools, scrapbooking supplies, or knitting needles and begin to finish a long-lost project. Make time for your special interests and teach them to others who can find and practice life skills within these areas of enjoyment. Maybe you can even begin a new 4-H club and watch how wonderful it can be to influence a group of young people who are unplugged from their phones, interacting with each other, while having fun and learning. All 4-H special interest clubs, like Team Topshots, offer Lee County young people access to even more activities and competitions at the district, state level, and even national level.
Pam Kerley is the 4-H Program Assistant with North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.