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From left, Tyler Ward, Emma Ward, Marshal Roten, Lawson Greene, Brock Hollar are junior members of the Watauga High School Hunter Safety Team heading to the state tournament in Ellerbe on Saturday.

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Originally published: 2014-04-22 18:00:50
Last modified: 2014-04-22 18:01:43

Hunter Education Skills

by Allison Haver

The Watauga High School Hunter Safety Junior team will be traveling to the Millstone 4-H Center in Ellerbe this weekend to participate in the Youth Hunter Education Skills state tournament.

The team was invited to the state competition when they placed 4th out of 17 junior teams in the District tournament held at Hunting Creek Preserve in Harmony in March.

The team also placed third over all in the shotgun event.

The top five teams from the District tournament were invited to the state competition, which over 50 teams will be participating. The top three teams from the tournament will advance to the national competition.

"Out of a 17 total junior teams, our juniors placed fourth which earned them an invitation to the state tournament," one of the team's coaches Bill Hollingsworth said.

"This is the first time we have had a team hit state level," Hollingsworth said.

The Watauga junior team has been preparing for the competition this Saturday by holding team practices every Sunday afternoon and on Mondays.
"We also try to practice whenever we get some good days, of course with us being up here the weather does not always corporate," Hollingsworth said.
 
The team also has taken practice tests to help them prepare for the National Wildlife Hunter Safety test they took on Tuesday evening as part of the competition in Elkin, N.C.

"All of the teams are meeting at Elkin High School to take an actual National Wildlife Hunter Safety test," Hollingsworth said.

The test is about 25 to 50 questions regarding wildlife identification and hunting safety knowledge and team members will not know their score until after the competition. The test will be scored individually and by teams.
"We are very excited," parent Lisa Ward said. "When you look at the kids they range from 10 to 14 years old."

Ward has two children on the junior team headed to the state competition, Emma and Tyler Ward.

All tournaments are demonstrations of skills covered through instruction by the Hunter Education Program and the team will participate in events such as orienteering (compass course), target shooting in archery, .22 rifle and shotgun, along with the National Wildlife Hunter Safety written test.

"When you realize all the events they compete in, and they are very serious about their events, it requires a lot of dedication on their part, none of it is easy," Ward said. "They are a strong team and they have a strong bong, they are friends outside of the team."

President of the Watauga Gun Club, Bill Walker said that not only was he impressed with the team's skills, when it comes to the different events but the knowledge of and attitude toward firearms each member has demonstrated.
"One of the first things that impressed me was the way their attitude is around firearms and they way they talk to adults about firearms Walker said.

The Watauga High School Hunter Safety Team promotes citizenship, safe firearm handling and sportsmanship through its program sponsored by the NC Wildlife Commission.

"The purpose of this program is not to just go and shoot, Ward said. " They learn how to do things safely and they have a lot of safety measures they go through on the range."

For more information about the Watauga High School Hunter Safety Team, visit http://www.wataugagunclub.com or the Watauga High School Hunter Safety Team - Senior and Junior Teams Facebook page.