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Illinois 4-H Shooting Sports
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How Do I Get Started?

What is Illinois 4-H Shooting Sports?
A 4-H Shooting Sports club is made up of young people and trained adults who usually get together several times for each shooting discipline during the 4-H year.

How do you start a Shooting Sports Club?

  • Contact your local Extension office first.
  • Find a team of adults (a county coordinator and at least one instructor per discipline) who will attend the statewide leader training workshop.
  • Find other adults who will assist as needed.
  • Develop a County Plan
  • Find boys and girls interested in shooting sports.
  • Enroll the club with the Extension office; get to know your local Extension staff.
  • Meet with the club and plan a year's program.
  • Have fun learning together.

When will the club meet?
Clubs may meet whenever it is convenient for everyone and wherever there is a safe shooting range available. Often meetings are held at established ranges, at sportsmen's clubs, in ranges which the group sets up in fair buildings, or at adapted outdoor ranges set up by the club. Meetings may consist of an hour of shooting and a short program. Some clubs meet throughout the year, while others combine several experiences in a one- to two-month period. Our overall emphasis is on safety and ethics.

What do 4-H'ers do at club meetings?

  • Practice safety techniques and response to range commands.
  • Learn basic shooting fundamentals.
  • Clean and maintain firearms and equipment.
  • Learn about eye and ear protection.
  • Learn the ethics about responsible gun usage.
  • Take field trips.
  • Develop shooting skills.
  • Explore wildlife conservation.
  • Enter competitions

Who leads the club?
A 4-H Shooting Sports club leader may be a parent or other adult in the community who is interested in working with young people on basic shooting skills and safety. Often the trained Coordinator takes the lead. Interested adults don't have to be expert marksmen to become involved in the program. An average shooter who cares about kids is usually a better instructor than an expert shooter who isn't interested in seeing youngsters develop. Adults wishing to become 4-H Leaders must be approved by local Extension offices.

The main requirement is a willingness to spend a weekend learning techniques necessary to teach youngsters the basic fundamentals of shooting. Statewide leader training workshops are conducted at least twice a year.

What special 4-H activities are available?
The following disciplines are currently available in Illinois.

  • Archery
  • Rifle
  • Shotgun
  • Hunting, Wildlife, and Outdoor Skills

A Club may elect to specialize in one of the disciplines, or if trained leaders are available, the club may choose to offer two or more disciplines to its members.

What is the cost?
4-H Shooting Sports participants are expected to become members of the 4-H Club. There is a $20.00 per year fee. Clubs may collect dues or hold fundraising events to help members cover the cost of supplies and expendables.

Can parents be involved?
Yes! 4-H is a family program. Parents often come to the meetings and act as range safety officers or assistant instructors. One or more may serve as club leaders. Assistant Instructors must be approved by the county's Certified Instructors.

What support is provided?
Leader training curriculum is available only through participation in the statewide leader training workshop. Each county wishing to become 'eligible' must have one Shooting Sports Coordinator and at least one shooting discipline trained instructor in: archery, rifle and/or shotgun.

For more information contact:
Dan Dawson
Youth Development Educator
State Coordinator, IL 4-H Shooting Sports
University of Illinois Extension
West Central Region Office
2930 Montvale Drive, Suite E
Springfield, IL 62704
Phone: 217-726-9224
Fax: 217-726-9224