“I like learning about the different firearms. I love learning how to use them safely,” says Leah Gonthier, a member of the Chester 4-H Junior Rifle and Archery League who was recently crowned a national champion for the 4-H National Shooting Sports Quiz Bowl.
The 4-H Shooting Sports Program promotes safety, sportsmanship and ethical behavior through skills development in shooting sports, introducing youth to a variety of recreational hobbies and potential career opportunities. The program brings together parents, adult volunteers and 4-H’ers to encourage responsible decision-making and an awareness of risk management while providing a space to identify and then pursue personal goals.
As a way to demonstrate knowledge about shooting sports, the National 4-H Shooting Sports Committee hosts an annual National 4-H Shooting Sports Quiz Bowl every year with two age divisions: Juniors (between age 8-13 years of age) and Seniors (14-19 years of age). Teams consist of three or four members.
This year’s event was held virtually for the first time from June 22-26, 2020 and included questions on archery, hunting, muzzleloading, pistols, rifles, shotguns and Western heritage (a study of the American frontier from 1860-1900).
Leah and her siblings Julia and Jacob participated in the Junior division of the quiz bowl and collectively earned second place as a team. Leah got 100% of the questions correct. Julia earned sixth place and Jacob scored 66 out of a total of 146 4-H’ers from across the country.
Leah explains, “I learned a lot from it, and I had a fun time doing it.” Her siblings are quick to agree that this is a fun activity that they love participating in.
Jacob says he enjoys being able to spend time with his father and friends while learning the basic safety principles of firearms.
Julia notes, “I like shooting sports because it gives me a challenge…If you learn how to do it, and you get good at it and you practice all the time, it gets easier.” She also explains that it is a great way to continue learning outside of the traditional subjects taught in school classrooms.
All of these benefits are echoed by their mom, Darcy Gonthier, who says that the shooting sports program supports her children in becoming more confident in their skills. She also points out that it is a great alternative for kids who are not interested or able to participate in other sports offered at schools. “If they're not physically capable of playing basketball or football, this is another avenue for them to try to see if they can do well at it.”
The lessons learned and knowledge gained through this 4-H program are lifelong and they will continue to benefit 4-H’ers like the Gonthier siblings for years to come.