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National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitational

Over 500 participants and 150 coaches representing more than 30 states participate annually in the National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitational which is usually held in June.

Shooting has been a part of 4-H since the 1930s when there was competition at local, district and state events. There was also shooting sports at some 4-H camps that had ranges, however there was no organized training program where leaders were taught how to tach youth how to shoot.

In a history of the National 4-H Shooting Sports Program written for the program's 25th anniversary the following is documented:

"In 1976, a request was made by Tom Davison (Texas 4-H), Don Steinbach and Milo Shult (Texas Extension Fisheries/Wildlife) to the State 4-H Program Leader that the current 4-H rifle project b expanded to include other shooting disciplines. Approval was given and 4-H shooting sports was born! These staff members realized that there needed to be a training program in place to teach volunteers how to teach all the shooting skills as well as to expand the existing rifle project.

"In March of 1976, conrad Liden, Maryland Extension staff member who ran a competitive 4-H shooting sports program and Milo Shult met with Bill Stevens of Federal Cartridge in Washington, D.C. to discuss the concept of the proposed 4-H Shooting Sports Leader Training program. Conrad contacted Wayne Sheets, Director of Education and Training at NRA about working with this small group to develop the 4-H shooting sports program. Wayne met with Tom Davison and it was agreed that a pilot training should be held to determine if the concept would work and if it should be expanded to other states.

"In 1977, two NRA/Texas 4-H pilot workshops were held for volunteer leaders and County Extension agents. Both were a success and it was determined that the program should be expanded to other states. NRA agreed to pay the travel of Tom and other individuals who could teach at the workshops. Bill stevens discussed the program concept with the Minnesota 4-H staff and they agreed to host a workshop in Minnesota in September of 1979. As in Texas, the workshop was a success and another workshop was held in 1980. In addition to Minnesota, NRA worked with 4-H staffs in New York and Washington. During the time the pilot programs were being evaluated, Stevens talked with numerous State 4-H staffs about the potential of the shooting sports program while making his annual visits to 4-H offices and Conservation Camps. There was a lot of interest and these contacts helped to identify states that would be involved.

"In order to expand the 4-H shooting sports program in an organized manner, NRA hosted an organizational meeting in December of 1979. Attendees were: Tom Davidson (Texas), Jim Kitts (Minnesota), Ron Howard (New York), Jerry Neuman (Washington), Conrad Liden (Maryland), Jim Miller and Kemp Swiney (USDA), Don Johnson (National 4-H Council), Bill Stevens (Federal Cartridge), and Gary Anderson, Wayne Sheets, Joe Nava, Jim Norine, Harold Newbitt, and John Hunt (NRA). Tom Davidson chaired the meetings and the following systematic plan for project development resulted: Recommend objectives for the project; Ascertain volunteer leader training needs; Determine literature required; Provide a recognition program for participants; Garner resource needs and private sector support; Recommend events and activities for shooting sports on local, state, regional and national levels; and Provide a schedule for implementation and make task assignments. The overall riding philosophy was that shooting sports be a total program including all aspects of shooting sports, that it be a hands on activity, and that the program should have a hard hitting, saleable title: (4-H Shooting Sports)."

Starting in 1983 National 4-H Shooting Sports Instructor Training Workshops have been held nearly every year up to the present.

It has not exactly been determined when the National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitational started, however it is held annually and locations host the event for two consecutive years.

Invitationals were held for ...

2000-2001inSan Antonio, Texas
2002-2003inRaton, New Mexico
2004-2005inColumbia, Missouri
2006-2007inRapid City, South Dakota
2008-2009inGrand Island, Nebraska
2009-2010inKerrville, Texas
2010-2011inSan Antonio, Texas
2012-2013inGrand Island, Nebraska

The purpose of shooting sports today remains mostly unchanged from the early concepts. It is to teach decision making, teamwork, self-discipline, self-confidence, and problem solving; promote safety, sportsmanship, ethical behavior; encourage an appreciation and understanding of natural resources; develop leadership abilities; build character and willingness to assume citizenship responsibility; build awareness of related career opportunities.

During the four-day competition the 4-H youth from across the country compete in the following disciplines:

  • .22 Pistol
  • .22 Rifle
  • Air Pistol
  • Air Rifle
  • Compound Archery
  • Hunting Skills
  • Muzzleloading
  • Recurve Archery
  • Shotgun

For results in the various Shooting Sports Invitational competitions for the past several years visit the website:

Contemporary History

For additional information and scheduling plans for future National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitationals visit the following two websites: and

Compiled by National 4-H History Preservation Team.

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