Teens With Guns Can Be A Good Thing

The Winston-Salem Journal had a story today about a bunch of teens and near teens with guns. In fact, there were over 1,200 of them ranging in age from 12 to 18. And it was safe and controlled and educational and fun.

It was the District 7 Youth Hunter Education Skills Tournament and featured 72 teams competing to be in the state tournament. Two teams get automatic bids and the remainder hope that their scores are high enough to win one of the 22 at-large spots in the 40 team state tournament. The event is sponsored by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and was held at the Hunting Creek Preserve in Harmony, NC.

To many, the district tournament may have come at a strange time — where the words “teens” and “guns” are inflammatory at best after the harrowing school shooting in Florida last month — but the teens who competed asserted that the tragedy does not define what they do.

“There will always be bad people who want to do bad things with guns, but that does not define us,” said Spencer Ballus, one of the 52 members of Reagan High School’s shooting team. “Everyone here has a good head on their shoulders. We are conscientious, responsible and put safety first.”

The teams competed in rifle, shotgun, archery, and orienteering with the cumulative score deciding the winners.

But the tournament is largely apolitical — completed for the love of competition and the camaraderie that comes with being on a team.

“I do it for fun because I like getting to compete with my friends,” said Walkertown student Brandon Carrier, 12. “I like rifle because it’s something I grew up doing with my dad.”

(Spencer) Ballus, a senior at Reagan, has been practicing for the tournament since December and said he fell into the sport as a freshman in search of his niche.

His specialty is rifle, where he has to hit a small target with a bull’s-eye the size of a dime.

The team practices from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday in a nearby Pfafftown farmer’s field, doing occasional farmwork in exchange for use of the land.

“I’d never really been into athletics, but I thought the team looked interesting,” Ballus said. “The camaraderie is the best part. It was the best decision I could’ve made.”

I think a parent of one of the competitors hit the nail on the head.

“If we taught more about guns, I think we’d have a lot less shootings,” said parent Tony Bryant, whose son Cole Abbott competes on the Reagan team. “Instead of just playing video games, this teaches the kids to respect guns. It’s a wonderful thing.”

H/T Nathan C.

Congrats To The Forbush Raptors And The Yadkin Patriots

The Forbush Raptors and the Yadkin Patriots are this year’s the senior and junior division champions respectively in the 30th annual International Youth Hunter Education Challenge. This annual event is held at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, NM. These teams from the Piedmont section of North Carolina excelled at both marksmanship and non-shooting events such as orienteering and hunter safety.

More on the events and the teams is in the release from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. The teams qualified for the national event through district and state-level competitions held by the Commission as part of their Hunter Safety Program.

RALEIGH, N.C. (Aug. 5, 2015) — Youth teams affiliated with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission emerged as junior and senior division champions at the 30th annual International Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC), a shooting and outdoors skills competition at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, N.M.

The National Rifle Association event was held July 26-31. Teams from across the country competed in marksmanship with .22-caliber rifles and black powder rifles at knock-down targets, shotgun on a sporting clays course, and archery at 3-D game targets. Non-shooting events included orienteering, wildlife identification, hunter responsibility exam, and a hunter safety trail test.

The Forbush Raptors of Forbush High School won the senior division with a team roster consisting of Coach Chris Poplin and student competitors Colton Bullin, Jordan Dinkins, Dylan Horn, Dylan Poplin, Jordan Yale and Emry Wingler.

The Yadkin Patriots of Forbush Middle School won the junior division with a team roster consisting of Coaches Carson Hobson and Brian Poindexter, and student competitors Colton Hanes, Matthew Lineberry, Clayton Medlin, Zack Norman and Garrett Poindexter. Both schools are in Yadkin County.

“This makes back-to-back championships for Coach Carson Hobson,” said Tim Lemon, a Wildlife Commission hunter education specialist for the district that includes Yadkin County. “You have to appreciate his level of commitment to the team and all his hard work. And his hard work doesn’t begin and end with the Yadkin Patriots. He is a longtime hunting education instructor, firearms safety instructor, community volunteer and well known for taking every opportunity to engage local youth in outdoor recreation.”

Nearly 340 competitors, coaches and parents attended YHEC this year. Since its inception in 1985, YHEC has reached more than a million young men and women. See complete 2015 team results and individual standings here.

In North Carolina, teams and individuals qualified for YHEC through the Wildlife Commission’s district and state Youth Hunter Education Tournaments, a component of the Hunter Education Program. Teams are organized on senior (high school) and junior (middle and elementary schools) divisional levels. For more information, go to www.ncwildlife.org/huntered.

A Reminder For NC Hunters

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is reminding hunters of the requirement to wear blaze orange during certain hunting seasons. As an aside, I wonder if this requirement will ever be expanded to include the safety yellow that you see so many highway workers and public safety personnel wearing nowadays.

RALEIGH, N.C. – The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Home From The
Hunt™ safety campaign is reminding hunters to follow blaze orange

In North Carolina, hunters are required to wear a cap, hat or an outer
garment in blaze orange that is visible from all sides when hunting
bear, feral hogs, deer, rabbit, squirrel, grouse, pheasant or quail with
a firearm. Hunters are also required to wear blaze orange while hunting
with a bow on Sunday during the muzzleloader or gun season.

“Blaze orange, sometimes known as hunter orange, fluorescent orange or,
by some old-timers, as 10-mile cloth, is instantly recognizable and
signals caution to the viewer,” said Travis Casper, state hunter
education coordinator.

The Wildlife Commission recommends everyone wear blaze orange if they
are going to be outdoors in areas shared with hunters. Blaze orange
clothing stands out against an outdoor background and studies have
proven it increases visibility of the wearer in low light situations.
Blaze orange also can be helpful in locating someone lost or injured.

“Throughout the various hunting seasons, the majority of folks are
responsible and safe,” Casper said. “This state has an excellent hunting
safety record, which improves every year. But it isn’t perfect and we
want to eliminate preventable incidents.”

All first-time hunting license buyers in North Carolina must complete a
hunter education course successfully. Classroom courses are offered free
across the state by the Wildlife Commission, with locations and
schedules listed online at


For information on hunting seasons and rules, consult the 2012-13 N.C.
Inland Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest, also available
online at