Local youth hunters compete at states

Emery Gunsallus and Tyler Weaver will continue on to the YHEC Nationals to be held in Mansfield in late July.

(Editor’s Note: Due to inadvertent errors on the part of The Express, these photos and this story are being re-published to properly recognize the accomplishments of the youth who participate in the Youth Hunter Education Challenge. The Express apologizes for the errors.)

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LOGANTON — At first glance, it may only seem like another shooting competition, but when observed in context, YHEC (Youth Hunter Education Challenge) showcases the wide array of firearm proficiency, skills and knowledge that the competition’s young men and women have obtained over the course of months of practice in preparation for events and–more importantly–the safety that we should all practice while afield.

YHEC is essentially an advanced hunter education course put into a competitive format for youth age 18 and under that allows participants to improve their hunting, shooting, ethics, responsibility and most importantly, safety skills for the field.

Some say is the most comprehensive hunter training program in North America today.

On Saturday, June 16, the Southern Clinton YHEC teams competed in the 33rd annual PA State YHEC competition held at Scotia Range in Centre County. There were 172 youngsters ages 11-18 competing in rifle, shotgun, archery, muzzleloader, hunter safety exam, muzzleloader exam and wildlife identification.

Members of the Southern Clinton Jr. Blue Team include Denny Dolan, Emery Gunsallus, Trenton Haagen, Wyatt Ripka and Tyler Weaver. They earned the following awards: archery – third place; shotgun – third place; muzzleloader – third place; wildlife identification – second place.

Individual award winners were Emery Gunsallus, who took second place archery, first place muzzleloader, third place wildlife identification and third place hunter safety exam.

Wyatt Ripka earned second place in the wildlife identification competition.

Emery Gunsallus placed second overall in the Jr. Division and Tyler Weaver placed seventh overall in the Jr. Division which qualified both boys to compete in the YHEC Nationals to be held in Mansfield in late July.

Junior Orange Team members are Dawson Brungard, Kaedin Kramer, Pierce Long, Dakota McDermott, Jackson Proctor, Joseph Proctor, and Malachi Gotchall. The junior teams are coached by Dave Gunsallus and Bob Crisinger.

Senior YHEC members include Michael Barner, Tanner Bierly, Lance Bowman, Kate Burrows, John Kramer, Chase Long, and Zach Williamson. The Senior Blue Team earned third place in the hunter safety examination.

Zach Williamson also earned third place in archery in the Senior Division. The Senior team is coached by Rob Bowman and Matt Burrows.

YHEC is sponsored and supported by the National Rifle Association and this year Southern Clinton YHEC received a grant directly from the National Rifle Association. These funds were used to purchase materials to help the participants study for this portion of the competition.

Wildlife identification encompasses a vast range of information and knowledge including identifying skulls, furs, scat, ducks, bird calls and much more. By purchasing some furs and skulls with the funds from the NRA this year, the Southern Clinton teams were able to familiarize themselves with these animals and thus be better prepared for the regional and state competitions.

Southern Clinton YHEC is grateful for the local support that has been given as well. YHEC is sponsored by the Southern Clinton County Sportsman’s Club in Loganton. Other local shooting clubs who have also donated their facilities and support are: Liberty Township Sportsman’s Club, Black Eagle Bowman Club, and Miller’s Gun Shop.

This year’s “Top Gun” financial sponsors include Europtics, R.C. Bowman and Sons and Carroll TK Garage and Alignment.

If you or someone you know may be interested in joining the YHEC club, call Dave Gunsallus at 570-726-3432 for more information.

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