Why Shooting Sports?
In 2017, America witnessed a number of horrific, mass killings. From Las Vegas, Nevada to Sutherland Springs, Texas, we were reminded how precious life truly is. Our hearts certainly go out to all those who lost loved ones in these events. As a result of these devastating events, some have asked why 4-H continues to support and promote our shooting sports program.
Nationally and internationally, those intent on causing harm to others, have used different instruments of destruction. From the Oklahoma bombing in 1995, to the attack in Nice, France, where a large truck was the weapon of choice, terrorist attacks, domestic or otherwise, are more about the person responsible for the violence than they are the weapon used.
4-H is about the development of youth to become caring, competent, and contributing members of society. The shooting sports program, like all 4-H programs is designed to contribute to life-skill development, including the development of respect for others and an appreciation for the value of life. If you have ever attended one of our regional or state level shooting events, you quickly notice the strong emphasis on safety and respect for others. At every step, instructors, coaches, and range managers emphasize the importance of handling shotguns, rifles, pistols, muzzleloaders, and archery equipment in a responsible manner that does not jeopardize the safety of participants or observers. Proper training, and close monitoring of every event, helps prevent accidents.
But the shootings that make the six o’ clock news, are not accidents. They are planned and carried out by people whose value system has been compromised and as a result, can no longer be trusted to consider the best interest of those with whom they come in contact. They are not necessarily well trained and are certainly not well monitored and they slip through the cracks of society until they are angry and desperate. It is my hope that participation in the 4-H shooting program and every 4-H program, helps to not only prepare youth to be contributing members of society but to manage their lives in such a way that they productively deal with the circumstances that send some over the edge.
Associate Director, State Program Leader, 4-H/ FCS
North Carolina Cooperative Extension