Our webpages must be accessible so we have our documents in printable/downloadable PDF version first, then we have the document in a webpage version. You may need to scroll through the page to find the document you are looking for.

Documents on this page:

  1. Link to Montana 4-H Shooting Sports website for more information
  2. Shooting Sports Release Form
  3. Flathead County Invitational (when available)
  4. Montana 4-H Archery Rules R12
  5. Pre-test Quiz

Flathead County 4-H Shooting Sports is a short term club that starts in November and ends in February. Enrollment for Shooting Sports begins in October and space is limited. Enrollment dates are announced in the newsletter and through Shooting Sports Logoemail, or Contact the Extension office for the contact information. You can find other Shooting Sports Event documents in "Downloads/4H and Youth Development/Shooting Sports Projects" (there are too many to put directly on the website) more information is in "Downloads/4H and Youth Development/Shooting Sports Projects". 

General Montana 4-H Shooting Sports Event Information and other county's shooting events is found at:


Flathead Shooting Sports Invitational (TBA)

Printable version of Flathead County Shooting Sports Invitational (PDF)

Flathead 4-H Shooting Sports Release Form

Printable version of the Flathead 4-H Shooting Sports Release Form (PDF)

Flathead County 4-H Shooting Sports

Release, Assumption of Risk & Agreement to Hold Harmless


I am aware that my child’s participation in 4-H Shooting Sports events can be a dangerous activity involving many risks to injury. I fully recognize, appreciate and understand the dangers and risks inherent in 4-H Shooting Sports events, and during transportation to and from the 4-H event site included, but are not limited to, death or serious bodily injury. I understand that the dangers and risks of participating in 4-H events and/or travel may result in not only serious injury, but in a serious impairment of my child’s future abilities to earn a living, to engage in other businesses, social and recreational activities and generally to enjoy life.


In consideration of my child’s being permitted to participate in 4-H Shooting Sports events and/or travel, I hereby assume all the risks associated with participation and necessary travel and agree to hold MSU Extension, Flathead County, their trustees, officers, employees, agents, representatives and volunteers harmless from any and all liability, actions, causes of action, debts, claims, or demands of any nature whatsoever which may arise by or in connection with my child’s participation in 4-H events and/or travel. The terms hereof shall serve as a release and assumption of risk for me, my heirs, estate, executor, administrator, assignees and for all members of my family.


I, the undersigned parent(s) and lawful guardian(s) hereby execute the foregoing Release and to Consent for and on behalf of my minor child and/or ward. I have carefully read the foregoing release and consent and sign on my own free act. I hereby certify that I am lawfully empowered to enter into this release and do consent to bind my child and myself hereby.


Parent/Legal Guardian Printed Name __________________________________



Signature ____________________________ Date _______________________



Child’s Name _________________________  Date of Birth _________________



The Montana State University Extension Service is an ADA/EO/AA/Veteran’s Preference Employer and Provider of Educational Outreach.

Montana 4-H Archery R12

Printable version of Montana 4-H Archery Rules R12



R12 Adopted MAY 10, 2016 by the Montana 4-H Shooting Sports Advisory Committee


The 4-H Archery Project and competitive events exist to provide an opportunity for youth development through the pursuit of excellence. The intent of this document is to help ensure fair and equal and safe opportunity for all Members. Each competitor will have the same predetermined rules and will

compete with others of similar age and comparable equipment. Archers, Leaders, or Parents exhibiting unsportsmanlike conduct at tournaments will be expelled from the entire event without refund. These rules are updated from time to time. It is the responsibility of the 4-H Archer and Archery Project Leader to know and abide by the rules at all times. Failure to do so is grounds for dismissal.


All Archery Safety Rules are to be adhered to at ALL times including Practice, Tournaments, etc.

  1. Give full attention to the Range Master.
  2. Know and obey Range Commands and Rules of Etiquette and Safety at all times. The Whistle Commands are: 5+ =Emergency! 3=Score & Pull. 2=Archers to the line. 1=Shoot
  3. Be Silent on the Shooting Line & Waiting Line.
  4. Always wear an arm guard while shooting to protect you from String Slap, Clothing Interference, or a Broken Shaft!
  5. Make sure arrows are long enough! Do not trade. If you change Draw Length, Check your Arrow Length!
  6. Use a bow with Proper Draw Weight. Being Over Bowed leads to Bad Form & Shoulder Injuries.
  7. Keep all arrows in the quiver until the "begin shooting" signal is given by the Range Master. The Range Master may require the use of floor quivers if in his/her opinion the conditions warrant it.
  8. Let dropped arrows lie. Wait for specific permission from the Range Master before picking up dropped arrows.
  9. The high setup is encouraged, but arrows must be pointed toward the targets during the entire draw cycle, not the floor, or ceiling.
  10. When a mechanical release is used, the archer shall draw with finger placed firmly behind the trigger until the anchor point is established.
  11. Never Dry Fire a Bow – (Includes Broken Nocks, Lost Inserts, De-nocked arrow, too Light arrows – Arrows must weigh a minimum of 5 grains per pound of bow draw weight.).
  12. Always walk at the archery range. No horseplay.
  13. Pull and carry arrows safely. Look Behind you!
  14. Safely carry arrows in your hands controlling both ends of the arrow or in a quiver.
  15. Inspect Arrows (Nock, Fletch, Point, & Shaft) each time you shoot before putting them back in your quiver. A damaged arrow must immediately have the nock removed so that it cannot be shot!
  16. Always use a stringer to string a bow.
  17. Be sure there is adequate clearance for bow limbs and that nothing is attached to the limbs when shooting (e.g. bowstand, etc) that is not specifically manufactured as part of the bow. (Bow Quivers are OK, but not allowed at some ranges.)
  18. Leave equipment or friend blocking target when searching for lost arrows.
  19. Be sure of your target and beyond. If in doubt, don’t shoot!
  20. Never draw or shoot an arrow pointed straight up!
  21. Only travel forward on a 3-D or Field Course. Never backtrack.
  22. Make sure archers ahead of you are clear before nocking an arrow on the 3-D range. Call Out.
  23. Do not back out limb bolts beyond mfg’s recommendation. Don’t Know? Don’t do it!
  24. The Range Master may set other safety procedures he/she deems necessary.



Archers must be 4-H Members in good standing and currently enrolled in the 4-H Archery Project supervised by a Certified Archery Project Leader to participate in 4-H Practice or Tournaments. (Note: Non-4H youth and adults may be invited to shoot at fund raisers.)


The maximum peak draw weight of any bow shall not exceed 60 pounds. Arrows must be no lighter than 5 grains arrow weight per pound of bow peak draw weight. No arrows larger than 27/64 in. (9.13mm) in diameter are permitted. Stabilizer length is measured from the back of the bow at the point of attachment and includes any coupling device. Sight length shall be measured from the mounting screws to the sight pin or aperture. Bows in divisions without sights shall have no markings or blemishes or bow quiver or arrow rest parts in the sight window or face of the bow or string that could be used for sighting. Camo bows shall have tape over Archer’s side of the sight window. No electric or electronic devices are allowed on the shooting line including sight lights, lasers, cell phones, communication devices, and headphones. Crossbows are not allowed. Armguards shall be properly worn by all archers when shooting and shall be of sufficiently durable construction to protect the arm from string slap or a broken shaft.


Dress code will be enforced. Alcohol, cannabis, or tobacco logos or text, inappropriate language, unsportsmanlike slogans, sleeveless sweatshirts, bare midriffs etc. will not be tolerated. Participants are required to wear shoes that completely cover the foot. Examples of footwear not acceptable include, but not limited to: open-toe shoes, sandals, clogs, crocks, flip-flops, sox only, and bare feet.


Archers with Physical Disabilities: An Archer with a physical disability or injury, temporary or permanent, who cannot participate from one or more prescribed shooting positions as outlined in the Rules or who must use special equipment when shooting may petition to the Range Master for permission to assume a special position or to use specialized equipment or both. For example those with lower body injuries may shoot from a wheel chair, chair, or stool as deemed medically or adaptively necessary or someone with an injured arm might use a chew strap. Those instances require a written petition supported by a physician’s written statement detailing the problem, the physical issues preventing the use of standard position or positions, or modifications in equipment required to enable participation.


Archery Disciplines include Indoor Target Archery, Outdoor Target Archery (FITA), Field Archery, 3D Archery, Clout Archery, Flight Archery, Run Archery, and Ski Archery.


Archers shall compete in the Bow Division that allows all of the components of the bow, sight, and release method being used, although all components are not required to be present. For example, a Bare Bow is not required to have a 12” stabilizer even though it is allowed, and a compound bow with no sights using a mechanical release would shoot in Bowhunter or Unlimited class because of the release.

Primitive Bow (PB): Longbow or Recurve with finger release and no sights or stabilizers.

Bare Bow (BB): Any bow with finger release and no sights. A single straight 12” maximum stabilizer is allowed.

Limited Bow (LB): Any bow with finger release and fixed sights with a length of 5" or less. Peeps with clarifiers or verifiers are allowed. A single straight 12" maximum stabilizer is allowed. Sights that are adjustable without the use of tools or sights with a lens are not allowed. No sight may be adjusted once the scoring has begun.

Bow Hunter (BH): Any bow with mechanical release aid, and fixed sights with a length of 5" or less. Peeps with clarifiers or verifiers are allowed. A single straight 12" maximum stabilizer is allowed. Sights that are adjustable without the use of tools or sights with a lens are not allowed. No sight may be adjusted once the scoring has begun.


Unlimited Bow (UB): Any bow with mechanical release aid, stabilizers of any length, V-bar, any sight including movable sights or sights with a lens, and written information. Sight may be adjusted any time during the round, but only by the Archer. (Not the coach.)

Olympic Recurve (OR): Recurve bow with finger release, clicker, kisser buttons, V-bar, stabilizers of any length and any length single movable sight with written information or multiple pin fixed sight. Sight may not incorporate a prism, lens, or leveling device. String peeps or marks on the string in front of the eye are not allowed. Sight may be adjusted anytime during the round but only by the Archer. (Not the coach.)


For state matches “age” is based on the Member’s age on October 1st preceding the event Archers

must compete in their own Age Class as follows:

CLASS 1 - 9 to10 years old. (15-yard maximum for 3-D)

CLASS 2 -11 to 12 years old. (25-yard maximum for 3-D)

CLASS 3 -13 to 14 years old. (35-yard maximum for 3-D)

CLASS 4 -15 to 19 years old. (45-yard maximum for 3-D)

For the National Team Qualifying Event and the National Invitational “Participants must have past their 14th birthday by January 1 of the current year and may not have passed their 19th birthday before January 1 of the current year.” (Age 13 may participate for practice.) See “Montana 4-H Archery Qualifier Rules and Procedures”


A Competitive Category is a combination of a Bow Division and an Age Class. For example, Bare Bow (BB), Ages 9 & 10.

Each time an archer shoots a group of arrows, scores, & pulls it is called an End. Several Ends make a Round.


LAYOUT: Indoor Target Archery ranges shall have a Waiting Line at a minimum distance of 3 yards behind a Shooting Line, and a target Line 2 yards from the targets. Lines shall be clearly marked with tape, paint of other means that is not a tripping hazard.

RANGE PROCEDURES: The range shall be under the exclusive control of the Range Master and the Range Master’s appointees. Whistle commands should be used by the Range Master. Whistle commands shall be: 5 or more Blasts = “Emergency! Cease fire and quiver arrows.” 3 Blasts = “Cease fire and Retrieve Arrows.” 2 Blasts = “Shooters to the line.” 1 Blast = “Begin shooting.” Archers should be trained accordingly. Anyone may call a “Cease Fire!” in case of emergency.

In case of mechanical failure, the Archer shall get the attention of the Range Master and obtain permission before repairing equipment. The Range Master may set a time limit for repairs. Dropped arrows that are within reach of the Shooting Line may be picked up and shot only upon specific direction of the Range Master. The Archer may continue the Round and may be allowed to shoot make-up arrows or Ends at the Range Master’s discretion, but the archer’s score must continue from where he/she left off, and the archer may not start over regardless of the reason for the make-up arrows or ends.

No flash photography is allowed during Rounds.

TIMING: Timing will be provided by an Official Timer appointed by the Range Master. The start and end of each time limit will be signaled by a whistle or other audible device. An arrow shot before or after the specified time will be considered as being part of that End and will cause the athlete to lose the highest scoring arrow of that End, which will be scored as a miss. The Range Master or Timer may give a 30 second warning.

TARGETS: Competitors must use targets that have not been previously used, marked, or modified in any way. No aiming points or marks may be placed on the target or range. An archer may request a


new target during the Round if the target has become damaged enough to make scoring difficult. However the target must be the same type as the original. i.e. If you start with a 3-Spot, you must finish with a 3-Spot.

SCORING: Archers and Scorers shall not touch arrows or targets until after arrows are scored and agreed upon. Scores will be called out by the athlete and checked by the scorekeeper. An arrow will be scored according to the position of the shaft in the target face, not the hole. If an arrow touches two colors or a line, score the higher value. A “Robin Hood”, an arrow prevented from hitting the target due to being stuck in any part of a previously shot arrow, shall be given the score of the arrow in which it is stuck. If a target is deformed or partly missing, score will be based on an imaginary circular line in the original position. On a 3-Spot target there can only be one arrow scored per spot. If more than one arrow is in a spot, only the lowest score is counted. The others are scored as a miss-M. The Range Master or appointed Judge shall make the final determination of score if the Archer and Scorer cannot agree on an arrow’s score. In Indoor Target Archery the Range Master will give Archers an opportunity to re-shoot arrows that pass through or bounce out of the target. Arrows that miss the target are not bouncers and may not be re-shot. Score as miss. (Note: use “M” for misses, not “0”.) (See scoring for different archery disciplines below.)

PLACEMENT: Placement is by highest score in each Competitive Category. Tied scores shall be resolved first by the most number of X’s. If still tied, use most 10’s, then most 9’s etc. until tie is resolved. (National Qualifier Rules vary. See “Montana 4-H Archery Qualifier Rules and Procedures”)

COACHING: At tournaments Coaches and parents are not allowed in front of the Waiting Line, on the Shooting Line, or on the Range at any time except by special permission of the Range Master. (For example to help set up targets, help score, or for photographs.) Coaches may assist all archers and adjust sights during warm-up ends only. No further adjustments to any part of the bow or sight are allowed after the first Scoring Round has begun, except as stated in the Unlimited Bow and Olympic Recurve Divisions above. Coaching during a Round will be permitted only for members under the age of 14. All permitted coaching will take place behind the Waiting Line and between Ends and in a manner that does not disturb other archers.


If more specifics are required, the following rules shall apply: NFAA “Traditional Bow” rules for the Primitive Bow (PB) division. NFAA “Competitive Bowhunter” rules for the Bare Bow (BB) division. NFAA “Freestyle Limited Bowhunter” rules for the Limited Bow (LB) division. NFAA “Freestyle Bowhunter” for the Bow Hunter (BH) division. FITA “Compound Division” rules for the Unlimited Bow (UB) division. FITA “Recurve Division” rules for the Olympic Recurve (OR) division. These rules and divisions shall apply to both Target Archery and 3-D Archery events. In case of discrepancy the 4-H rules shall prevail.


Here are some examples of archery events. The outdoor examples are typical of the 4-H National Invitational.


Indoor Target: 40 cm FITA or Vegas 3 Spot (Archer’s choice) at 1 m. above floor.

Distance: 10 meters.

Course of Fire: 10 ends of 3 arrows each.

Time Limit: 2.5 minutes per 3 arrow end.

Scoring: 10x,10 to 1, M from the center outward, or 10x-10-6,M on 3-Spot.

Archers shoot standing, straddling the Shooting Line.





Target: FITA 122cm and 80 cm faces, 5-color face

Distance: Rounds are shot in the following order:

Ages 9-10 = 30m, 25m, 25m, 20m

Ages 11-13 = 50m, 40m, 30m, 20m

Archers shoot standing, straddling the Shooting Line.

Ages 14-19 = 60m, 50m, 40m, 30m

4-H National Invitational Ages 14-19 = “60, 50, 40, and 30 meters in that order” Course of Fire: 18 arrows at each of 4 distances. (72 arrows total.)

3 ends of 6 arrows each from the two longer distances using 122cm targets. 6 ends of 3 arrows each from the two shorter distances using 80cm targets. Time Limit: 4 minutes per 6 arrow end and 2.5 minutes per 3 arrow end.

Scoring: 10x,10 to 1, M from the center outward.



FIELD ROUND (1/2 Field Round)

Target: NFAA targets of sizes selected by the management and appropriate to the course.

Distances: Marked distances within the range of 5 to 60 yards

Course of Fire:14 targets with at least one fan and one walk-up target, 4 arrows per target.

Time Limit: Shooters will move through the course expeditiously and avoid delays

Scoring: 5x, 5, 4, 3, M from the center outward

Archers shoot standing, with toe nearest the target behind the Shooting Line.3-D ROUND



Targets: 3-D targets as selected and placed by the management.

Distances: Unmarked distances from 5 to 50 yards.

Course of Fire: 30 arrows, one arrow per target in order by the management.

Time Limit: Shooters will move through the course expeditiously and avoid delays. Lost arrow search

is limited to 2 minutes.

Scoring: Determined by management. Typically 11, 10, 8, 5.

Archers shoot in any position but some body part must be touching the shooting stake. e.g. foot or



See “Montana 4-H Archery Qualifier Rules and Procedures which are incorporated herein.”

Pre-test Quiz

Printable version of Pre-test Quiz (PDF)

Montana 4-H Shooting Sports

Pre-Training Information and quiz

PURPOSE: To acquaint new Shooting Sports leaders with 4-H, Extension and their Land-Grant University.

This quiz may be completed at home, at your convenience. It must accompany you to your scheduled training workshop. Completion of the quiz is mandatory for participation at the 4-H Shooting Sports Instructor Training.

The information in this pamphlet should be studied and utilized to answer the questions on the quiz. The attached quiz and leader commitment statement is to be presented at the first session of the State Shooting Sports Leader Training Workshop.
What is 4-H?

4-H is the youth education program of the Montana State University Extension Service cooperating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and your local county government. Leadership in 4-H is provided at the national, state and county levels by Extension faculty members with emphasis on involving parents and volunteer leaders. 4-H has a unique link with an extensive knowledge and research base through its cooperative partnership with all land-grant universities, county governments, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Participation in Montana 4-H and its programs is open to all interested youth regardless of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, sex or handicap. However, participating in some parts of the 4-H program may require certain age requirements, specific enrollment deadlines, or project specific deadlines. Such specific requirements are not to keep boys and girls from joining and participating in other parts of the 4-H program at any time during the year.

The goal of Montana 4-H is to educate youth and adults for living in a global and ever-changing world by using the resources of Land-Grant universities and the USDA.

Montana 4-H uses educational, learning-by-doing projects, club meetings, community service projects, events and activities for young people and adults as they work toward attaining these five LIFE SKILLS:

  • Fostering positive self-concept
  • Learning decision-making and responsibility for choices
  • Developing an inquiring mind
  • Relating to self and others
  • Acquiring a concern for communities – local and global.

The emblem of the 4-H program is a green four-leaf clover with a white “H” in each leaf. The official colors of 4-H are green and white.   The four “H’s” stand for Head, Heart, Hands and Health and represent the ways 4-H develops the four life skills.

            Head: Learning to think, make decisions; understand the “whys” gain new and valuable insights and knowledge.

            Heart: Being concerned with the welfare of others, accepting the responsibilities of citizenship in our local and global communities, determining values and attitudes by which to live and learning how to work with others.

            Hands: Learning new skills, improving skills already developed, instilling pride in work, and respect for work accomplished.

            Health: Practicing healthful living, protecting the well-being of self and others, making constructive use of leisure time.  

This four-fold development is vital to every individual. All four of the “H’s” should be an important part of the goals youngsters identify was they participate in 4-H sponsored programs and educational activities.


  1. Youth who meet the minimum age requirements set by the state for full 4-H membership may participate in the 4-H shooting sports program if the County does not have more restrictive age requirements for this project. Any youth who turns 10 during the 4-H year (October 1- September 30) and is under 19 at the beginning of the current 4-H year.
  2. All participants in the 4-H shooting sports program are considered 4-H members and will need to be enrolled at theCounty Extension office. Community club membership is not required for participation in the Shooting Sports Project. All members may be required to meet minimum participation, community service or record book submission requirements as set by their county. The state requires a complete record book, documentation of 3 project goals as well as participation in three 4-H activities to complete the project.
  3. Montana 4-H reserves the right to deny participation of any person in 4-H activities if the person’s conduct poses a potential and substantial threat of injury to, or interference with, persons, property or the orderly operation of the 4-H program and the safety and security of others. Persons denied participation in 4-H activities will be provided notice in writing of the reasons for the decision and may appeal the decision by submitting a written request for reconsideration with the County Extension Agent with in 10 days of the receipt of notice.


  1. Depending on the County, youth in the shooting sports project may be members of either a Community Club or a Single Project Shooting Sports Club. This structure allows the youth to govern themselves with the guidance of the adult leaders. A shooting sports project club should have as a minimum basic organization an annual meeting schedule, a goal statement and youth officers along with a constitution, by-laws and a charter. Shooting sports may also be conducted as a project activity within the community club structure with leaders holding special activity meetings for members enrolled in the project.
  2. A county shooting sports program must be lead by an adult leader who has attended a Montana 4-H Shooting Sports Leader training in the discipline that is being taught or attended a training in a state with a reciprocal agreement with Montana (inquire with the Montana 4-H Program Coordinator for Ag and Natural Resources before attending an out-of-state training). TheCounty Leader may have other local parents and assistants who have not attended the training helping with the program however; the trained leader must always be present to supervise those helpers in the program. The county may not offer disciplines in which a local leader has not received state training.
  3. Funds raised by the Shooting Sports Program – including the solicitation of shooting equipment – must be carefully accounted for and used only in direct support of the 4-H shooting sports program.
  4. The use of the 4-H emblem is governed by congressional action and is subject to approval by the Montana State 4-H Program leader.

Role of Salaried Staff and Volunteers:

  1. The role of the salaried Extension 4-H Staff is to educate youth and adults, and to develop and manage a system through which Extension and non-Extension volunteers provide educational programs. Extension Agents serve as educators, change agents, leaders and program managers for the Shooting sports program and are ultimately accountable for the project activities. All County Extension Agents inMontana are members of the faculty ofMontana State University.
  2. The role of the Volunteer is to assist the salaried staff in any or all aspects of the 4-H program. Volunteers provide expertise and energy to help meet the needs of the 4-H members. Adult volunteers must be 19 years of age. Adult volunteers between the age of 19 and 21 may not serve as chaperons for 4-H activities, events or trips.
  3. All new volunteers must be approved by a 4-H staff member and will complete a 4-H Leader application with theCounty Extension office.
  4. Volunteer liability – 4-H volunteers acting in an official capacity for the MSU Extension Service are in part carrying out the business of the MSU Extension Service. Limited liability protection is provided by the university system while acting within their official capacity as a 4-H leader unless the claim is based upon intentional tort or felonious act.
    1. Staff and Volunteers are expected to act in good faith and without negligence in the performance of their duties as to minimize any chance of creating a University liability.
    2. In order to protect individuals, salaried and volunteer staff are should avoid being alone with a single child. Salaried and volunteer staff are expected to conduct themselves as professionals in all interactions with 4-H members and leaders.
  5. 4-H is the largest youth shooting sports program in the United States with 300,000 members enrolled annually.   In Montana, 4-H Shooting Sports is the 5th largest project. At both the state and national level, 4-H shooting sports has proven to be very safe project. To ensure safe and quality programs that continue to grow, volunteer training is a strong program emphasis.

Supporting Structure

The Montana Shooting Sports program supported by the Montana 4-H Center for Youth Development and is directed with oversight authority provided by the Vice Provost and Director of Extension. The state shooting program is directed by the state Program Coordinator with input from the State Shooting Sports Advisory committee and the State Training Team. County programs are supported by local Advisory boards and the county Leaders Council. The “Chain of Command” begins with the 4-H members in any particular county and moves up to the volunteers, and then the county agent. If issue warrants further discussion, the county agent will contact the Montana 4-H Center for Youth Development and speak with the State 4-H Program Coordinator for Ag and Natural Resources. Further discussion may lead to the Vice Provost and Director of Extension and the MSU Attorney.


4-H Pledge

I Pledge –     my HEAD to clearer thinking

my HEART to greater loyalty

my HANDS to larger service

my HEALTH to better living

for my club, my community, my country and my world.

What is Shooting Sports?

Ronald A Howard Jr. 

Shooting sports is an active program attractive to youth and adult audiences. The curriculum is designed to assist young people in personal development, establish a personal environmental ethic and explore life-long vocational and avocational activities. The program uses experiential learning and positive interactions with youth and adult role models to help young people develop self-concept, self-assurance and a positive self-image.

The content provides a framework of knowledge and skills for lifetime participation in recreation, hobbies and careers related to shooting sports and wildlife. Core concepts stress safety, ethical development, personal responsibility and life-time recreational skills.

The program promotes responsibility, decision making and identifying realistic, personal goals. Participants may elect to compete at a level appropriate for their abilities or pursue other objectives. Participants have shown high achievement in the field, shop or classroom and on the target range, but personal development for young people and leaders is the real objective. The program strives to make “every kid a winner,” and to “make the best better.”

Like other 4-H projects, shooting sports has a subject matter base. It has strong links to natural resources, wildlife, outdoor recreation and safety. The content is drawn from sports medicine, psychology, education, biological and physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, technology, as well as American traditions, folklore and history.

The proportion of volunteers and participants new to 4-H is as high as 80 percent in shooting sports programs. Links with other 4-H programs allow the program to introduce the wide array of activities and learning experiences 4-H has to offer. The program promotes positive interaction between young people and concerned, interested and well-prepared adults with shared interests. Those relationships result in recruitment of both youth and adults not being reached by other programs.

The content continues to grow, and its scope is limited only by the availability of leaders and the imaginations of participants. The program is flexible and adaptable to nearly any local audience – rural or urban. Equipment and facilities are also flexible, and numerous funding alternatives are available. Its major disciplines include archery, hunting and wildlife, muzzleloading, pistol, rifle and shotgun. A foundation of basic programs leads into more advanced activities.

Shooting Sports involves too much for a single leader to deliver successfully. It is designed to be delivered by a committee or team of volunteers with agent advice. Consent and support. It emphasizes the value of a cohesive and dynamic group of volunteers, each with limited responsibility to present a program that is better than any one of them could present alone. Identifying, recruiting, selecting and equipping leadership teams is one of the most significant keys to success. State and regional workshops equip leaders to deliver and promote the program.

If you like kids, have an interest in shooting or related activities and are willing to learn, the 4-H shooting sports program and youth of your community need you. For more information, contact your county Cooperative Extension office, state 4-H shooting sports coordinator, or state 4-H office. We will be happy to help you get a program started.

*       4-H and Youth Development Specialist, Texas Agricultural Extension Service

4-H Shooting Sports Guide                                                                                                                                               Revised 06-02                           1

Objectives of 4-H Shooting Sports Program

Ronald A. Howard Jr.


The 4-H Shooting Sports Program strives to enable young people, their parents and adult volunteers to become responsible, self-directed and productive members of society, Agents, leaders, instructors and coaches must understand the goals and objectives of the program in order to manage or present it properly. These goals and objectives are consistent with the goals and objectives of the 4-H program. The program transfers knowledge, skills and attitudes to develop human capital, using the subject matter and resources of the land-grant universities.

The specific goals and objectives of the 4-H Shooting Sports Program include but are not limited to those listed below.

  1. To encourage participation in natural resources and related natural science programs by exposing participants to the content through shooting, hunting and related activities.
  2. To enhance development of self-concept, character and personal growth through safe, educational and socially acceptable involvement in shooting activity.
  3. To teach safe and responsible use of firearms and archery equipment including sound decision making, self-discipline and concentration.
  4. To promote the highest standards of safety, sportsmanship and ethical behavior.
  5. To expose participants to the broad array of vocational and life-long avocational activities related to shooting sports.
  6. To strengthen families through participation in life-long recreational activities.
  7. To complement and enhance the impact of existing safety, shooting and hunter education programs using experiential educational methods and progressive development of skills and abilities.

Remember the differences in the age, experience, abilities and development of young people when programs are presented. Refer to a publication on ages and stages of development to be sure appropriate methods are used to reach the objectives.

Shooting Sports and Youth Development

Ronald A. Howard Jr.*

The Roots of the 4-H Shooting Sports Program

The creation of 4-H Shooting Sports rests in the shooting and hunter education communities, the arms and ammunition industry and 4-H itself. Each organization entered the cooperative venture of building the program with a different set of objectives. Later those objectives merged into a cohesive program structure.

Shooting and hunter education organizations shared a concern about recruitment and development. Although shooting is almost as attractive as track and field in international sporting events, competitive shooters were relatively rare and aging. Recruitment involved shooting organizations reaching out to people who were already interested in shooting sports. Like many other organizations, including 4-H, the recruitment efforts were directed at the easily reached audience of shooters who had a shooting tradition.

Hunter educators were concerned about teaching essential skills to produce safe and ethical hunters. The need was particularly acute for people coming from non-hunting and non-shooting backgrounds. Attacks on hunting made both recruitment and effective preparation more critical. They also outlined a need to broaden the base of understanding about hunting and other types of consumptive wildlife recreation or enterprise.

Industry had a strong, economic incentive. Sales of shooting equipment, ammunition and accessories were their livelihood. Economic stresses, anti-gun activities and declining participation rates in shooting and hunting were warning signs of economic hardship. Industry also faced a declining pool of skilled professionals in specialized areas of manufacture. Engravers, stock makers and other skilled artists or gunsmiths were in demand but rare and hard to find. Introduction of young people to safe and responsible use of shooting equipment and to careers related to shooting was viewed as a long-range solution.

The 4-H program also faced several problems. Males, both members and volunteers, were under-represented. Nationally, participants were nearly 65 percent female. Teens were grossly under-represented with a sharp decline in participation at about the age of 13. In many states the core of the 4-H program, the clubs, were experiencing a continued, long-term decline in membership. Birthright members made up as much as 95 percent of the membership in clubs. The increasing trend toward urbanization, coupled with the “cows and cooking” or “cows, sows and plows” image of 4-H resulted in barriers to participation that could be overcome only with creative programming.

Many youth shooting programs were available, so the subject matter of 4-H Shooting Sports was not unique. Several of the programs laid claim to a youth development foundation. Most of them used a volunteer corps to present the program to young people. A few of them even tried to link shooting to other areas of concern. The 4-H Shooting Sports Program tried to combine the best of all of these programs while keeping a relationship with the existing natural resources, safety or outdoor recreation programs. The materials and training programs emphasized young people and their life skills as the product of the program while using tested techniques and positive reinforcement to develop fundamentally sound shooters. Strong and continuing recruitment of volunteers, intensive volunteer equipping and management, minimal commitment of professional staff time and attractiveness to males and older teens have been and continue to be key elements in successful 4-H shooting programs.

The cooperation with other organizations and agencies, innovation within 4-H, skill development and recruitment of identified audiences, has been powerful. Where the program goes from here depends upon the orientation and commitment of the leaders and coaches who drive it.

Ideal Youth Programs

Defining any ideal youth program involves risk. Every person interested in young people has a point of view and a set of biases. When a committee defines and structures the program, often too many elements are included because of these opinions. A simple definition may be better.

Ideal youth programs seem to share several elements. Such programs are attractive to kids, parents and other volunteers The leaders are well-prepared, positive and understand the objectives of the program. They guide program direction, involving the participating young people in determining the exact nature and content. All participants strive to expand their interests, skills and competencies. Youth development and the growth of their coping, competency and contributory skills is the foundation of the program. Those skills are integrated into a matrix with fun, pertinent, informative and positive activities valued by the young people. Parents and older youth are actively involved and given increasingly responsible duties. Relationships are more important than skills, achievement or awards; and those who lead and guide the program ensure that the priorities remain in order. Finally, the groups are kept small with a high ratio of leaders or coaches to young people to facilitate building relationships, mentoring and role modeling.

The Significance of State Workshops
For Leaders and County Programs

Ronald A. Howard Jr.*

Shooting sports workshops are offered infrequently, and the scheduling is never convenient for everyone who might like to attend. The time commitment required for a workshop is significant, consuming a long weekend or more. Workshop costs are held to a minimum, but the financial investment is significant. Shooting sports materials are carefully controlled and volunteers deserve an explanation for this control and the significance of the workshops. This system is justified, perhaps even required, to continue delivering a strong, cohesive and effective 4-H program in shooting sports. Without exception, leaders who have invested in a workshop agree with this.

Numerous reasons for exceptions to the workshops have been offered, but none have been convincing. Where exceptions to the workshop-based system have been tired, avoidable difficulties with program content, objectives, orientation, recruitment methods, methods and continuity were encountered. This caused the programs to drift from the core of 4-H program objectives and incidence of program failure. Where a strong workshop-based foundation is built, the program has been a outstanding recruiter and an excellent tool for delivering youth development and conservation messages. In addition it offers opportunities to expose youth to other 4-H programs. To take advantage of those potentials, young people need to interact with well-prepared, highly motivated and interesting leaders. Responses to common questions about the program follow:

Is shooting a traditional 4-H program?

Yes and no. Shooting sports is both traditional and innovative. It is traditional in the sense of including all the core elements of a 4-H program – a youth development base, safety education, skill development, interaction with positive adult role models and career exploration. The roots in natural resources, riflery and archery are also traditional. The hands-on teaching methods are traditional, and the leader development model is a major innovation that is becoming traditional in delivery of other programs. The team-teaching approach, the relatively free format for delivery and the audiences are relatively non-traditional. In many states, the proportion of adult volunteers and youth not previously 4-H members (or birthright 4-H families) prior to enrolling in shooting sports exceeds 80 percent. The program is traditional where it counts. Its non-traditional components may be showing the way for new innovations and impacts in the 4-H program across the nation

How much agent time is required to develop and maintain the program?

The amount of time county staff must devote to the program varies with organizational style, willingness to develop volunteer management systems and personal interests. Original development may require as much as 40 to 80 hours over the course of a year, including attending a workshop. Some agents have spent as little as 15 to 20 hours getting the program started effectively Maintenance time also varies. It may require as little as 8 to 12 hours per year giving advice and consent to a volunteer committee and handling normal communications with leaders, committees, state staff and youth.

Some agents elect to maintain a higher profile and deeper involvement. My advice would be to limit your involvement to the amount needed for visibility, understanding and personal satisfaction.

How much time is expected from a volunteer?

The time commitment for volunteers varies dramatically. Many shooting sports volunteers are deeply committed to the content and process. The biggest challenge with them is managing that willingness to avoid burn-out and high volunteer turn-over. A comprehensive, basic program can easily involve 50 to 80 hours of direct youth contact in instruction alone. Involvement with practice sessions, shoots, fund-raising and planning activities can multiply that time commitment. If a small team of instructors (worst case scenario: team – one) commits that kind of time, they usually burn out within two to five years. Three years is about the average. Use a large team of volunteers to deliver small segments of the total program with small individual time commitments. One program grew in volunteerism from 16 leaders for 32 kids to 56 leaders in a single year. The next year involved 86 leaders. Within three years the leadership had grown to over 100 adults. Some of them gave as little as one hour. Others committed up to 40 or so hours.

Having so large a leader corps ensures a high leader to youth ratio. It also increases the potential for youth-adult mentoring, development of “significant other” relationships and multiple approaches to program elements. It requires constant recruitment of volunteers by volunteers and meaningful involvement of newly recruited leaders. Like the training model, this shared leadership model holds great potential for 4-H use in today’s environment. Very few potential leaders will refuse to invest one or two hours in something they enjoy with a youth audience. Usually the problem is getting leaders to pick limits to their commitment rather than trying to get more time from them

Why can’t I simply use any existing hunter education instructors or instructors certified by other agencies or organizations to conduct a program?

Existing hunter education instructors, NRA certified instructors or coaches, certified archery instructors or similar individuals are excellent resources for starting the program. For them, the prime function of the workshops is orientation to the scope, intent, orientation and methods of working within the 4-H program. Without that background, the programs that emerge are often renamed repetitions of the existing programs available through those other organizations. The distinctive orientation, approach and methods of this program make it uniquely 4-H. Without those elements and guidelines for program management and support, the program risks its integrity and effectiveness, as well as value as a 4-H recruitment tool. Workshop content is designed to help leaders deliver an effective, high-quality and self-sustaining youth development program using shooting as a vehicle. The workshops seek to assure quality control and program consistency.

Testimonials from NRA training counselors, NRA instructors, NAA instructors, hunter educations instructors (and coordinators), police firearms instructors, NBEP instructors and others who are highly qualified and experienced in teaching their disciplines underscore the value of these workshops to persons who are already qualified by another organization. One NRA training counselor and chief firearms instructor for a metropolitan sheriffs department attended four of the programs. He said, “Even very experienced instructors will find this workshop well worth the time. I learned several new techniques in each session.”

Do the 4-H techniques differ significantly from those used in other programs?

The proven techniques we are u sing in the 4-H program are compatible with the currently existing programs offered by other organizations. They differ in being pointedly based upon youth development objectives and in addressing shooting sports broadly rather than as a disconnected set of individual disciplines. Young people and adult leaders are our products. The highly successful techniques we promote yield high success rates with both personal development and shooting skill.

What kinds of content are covered in a shooting sports workshop?

The workshops are a microcosm of the shooting sports program. The core centers on safety and responsibility, teaching skills, coaching principles, 4-H objectives and organization, sources of support and means of linking shooting sports to other 4-H programs. A set of basic disciplines (archery, coordination, hunting and wildlife, muzzleloading, pistol, rifle and shotgun) branches from the core. Additional workshops may be offered in more advanced elements of those disciplines (skeet, trap, sporting clays, light rifle, silhouette and waterfowl identification). Every leader receives the core materials, and each one is equipped in a specialization. Only one may be taken at any given workshop because of the time requirements and content load that must be communicated. The basic elements are essential before a leader may go on to more advance training.

A dynamic team approach to teaching and program management is strongly encouraged. Each instructor receives more training than required for certification by the outside certification organization in their discipline. The objective is to teach them how to teach using 4-H methods in the 4-H way with 4-H objectives. Shooting ability is not necessarily a prerequisite to effective instruction, since completely naïve persons have become effective instructors through the program. Enhanced marksmanship is a frequent by-product of the training, but teaching the instructor how to shoot better is a bonus and a demonstration of the effectiveness of the techniques.

Why is shooting sports a valuable addition to the offerings in my county?

Shooting sports has the highest value to your county program when it is used as a recruitment device for young people and adults not already in the 4-H program. It has appeal to a wide range of youth in all socio-economic levels in both urban and rural settings. It promotes learning fundamental life skills, has direct links to natural resources education and leads to exploration of careers and life-long avocational pursuits. It provides many links to the rest of the 4-H program, including leadership development. In short, it is another tool you can use to increase the impact of 4-H in your community.

Why do we equip leaders through state-level workshops?

Quality control, leader preparation and efficient use of the volunteers and professionals who make up the state training team all contribute to using this approach.

Who does the training?

Instruction is provided by people with national training in their disciplines or by persons groomed to provide equivalent instruction. Outside instructors with a 4-H orientation are also employed when available. Nearly all the instructors are certified by other organizations or agencies, and the instruction provided surpasses the requirements for instructor certification by those organizations and agencies.

What kind of training is included?

A summary of the training content is listed above in the “content” question. The current format for the workshops includes instructional experiences and cross-training in another discipline of choice.

Why send a team of leaders?

A team of leaders provides mutual support, broader insight and stronger program development for the county. As the team gets larger (at least up to 15 to 20 persons), the intensity, depth and breadth of the program tend to increase.

Why can’t a single leader cover this project?

It is too large of a program to take that approach. Training in a discipline requires 16 to 18 hours. Common subject matter requires another 10 to 12 hours. The format of the workshop cannot be extended enough to permit multiple certifications in a single workshop.

In addition to the constraints of the training, two other problems, both potentially more serious, arise. First, the leader may feel over-whelmed by the sheer mass of the program, electing either to give it up or to limit it to his or her own special interest. While having a program delivered by someone with that special interest is ideal, limiting the program to one element severely cripples recruitment and retention potentials. The other serious impact is the burn-out problem outlined above. Asking one leader to cover everything on shooting sports is like asking one leader to cover everything in livestock. They may try. They may even have some success. BUT they will be gone very quickly because of the stress of trying to do more than they can accomplish effectively without support.

If I cannot send a team, what is the best way to get the program started?

Bring someone who is willing to explore the coordinator’s role and assist in recruiting a cadre of key leaders who are willing to take the state training and take that material home. It may require a longer time, but this approach has shown its value many times in the past. Unlike the lone, single-discipline instructor, the coordinator is positioned to organize a team of supportive instructors and to press for high-quality training for them. This is also a means of getting access to the basic materials distributed at the workshop so they can be used as a recruitment tool for leaders.

What kind of experience or background is necessary for leaders?

The prime requisite is a commitment to helping kids develop a willingness to learn. An open and active mind is also essential. Willingness to take the risk of trying new methods or new ideas in order to build successful programs is also helpful. Training, certification or shooting skill can be helpful, but they are not essential. Experience with shooting and shooting instruction using dated materials may pose some barriers to learning sound instructional methods.

Excellent target shooters may or may not be excellent instructors. The key is not shooting ability, but coaching and instructional ability. The objective of the instruction cannot become the trophy or the winner’s circle. It must remain the development of the young person to make “every kid a winner.”

Send us caring, self-disciplined people with a love for and desire to help kids…and we will send back a well-founded and prepared shooting sports instructor.

4-H State Shooting Sports Training


This test must be completed and accompany you to the State Shooting Sports Training workshop. Reference information is included with this exam. Reviewing this information will simplify filling out this test as well as prepare you for success at the training program. Thank you for committing your time and energy to Montana youth through the shooting project.

 Name______________________                         County ____________________

 Date ______________________

  1. County Extension Agents are full fledged members of the faculty at Montana State University.    True                        False
  2. The use of the name and emblem of 4-H are controlled by the USDA by authority given them by the United States Congress.                      True                 False
  3. The Extension Service in each state is associated with the Land-Grant Colleges.    True                 False
  4. Extension Service work is made possible in a county through the cooperation of three levels of government. Circle the three:

City     County     SID’s   State   Post Office  Private     National/Federal       Intercollegiate

  1. Anyone may use the name and emblem of 4-H in any way they choose.     

True         False

  1. 4-H is supported solely by Tax Dollars         

True         False

  1. All 4-H work must be done through organized 4-H Clubs    

True         False

  1. The official colors of 4-H are ___________________ and __________________
  2. A 4-H project leader is the adult or teen leader responsible for a given project area in the 4-H club or county program.         

True         False

  1. Youth are encouraged to say in the student role and should never be involved with teaching other 4-H members.       

True         False

  1. What does each of the H’s on the four leaf clover 4-H emblem stand for?
    1. ___________________
    2. ___________________
    3. ___________________
    4. ___________________
  2. Since 4-H is a program that must be made available to everyone a member cannot be denied participation even if they fail to follow safety procedures at the shooting range.    

True         False

  1. A person must be notified in writing of the reasons they have been denied 4-H participation.       

True         False

  1. Once a leader has attended a state 4-H shooting sports training they can oversee the county shooting program in any 4-H shooting sports discipline.         

True         False

  1. A leader who has been trained by the State Shooting Sports training team can solicit help from other untrained parents as long as they are continuously supervised by the trained leader.          

True         False

  1. Shooting sports volunteers are considered unpaid staff with the benefit of MSU liability protection as long as they are performing their leader duties following the practices and procedures presented at the shooting sports leader training.          

True         False

  1. As long as a leader is working with a child they know well it is alright to work one-on-one without anyone else present.   

True         False

  1. All leaders must be approved by the local Extension agent and fill out a leader application           

True         False

  1. All volunteer shooting sports leaders must be over 21 years of age.

True         False

  1. Accountability for success, failure or accidents ultimately lies with the County Agent so they must have knowledge of the shooting sports activities happening in their county.           

True         False

  1. The Montana State Shooting sports program is lead by a State Coordinator and the program is directed by the State Shooting Sports Advisory Committee.  

True         False

  1. More than one person should be trained as a shooting sports leader in each county as there is too much to cover for one person.         

True         False

  1. The shooting sports project is designed to be delivered by a committee of volunteers with support and advise from the extension agent.       

True         False

  1. The main emphasis of the 4-H shooting sports program is to identify young promising shooters and coach them to be highly competitive.            

True         False

  1. The shooting sports project appeals to and introduces 4-H to many young people who normally would not be interested in the traditional 4-H projects.       

True         False

  1. 4-H shooting sports is the largest youth shooting program in the United States.     

True         False

  1. The best strategy for volunteers to avoid burnout in this program is to recruit enough help so that the work is spread among a number of volunteers.         

True         False

  1. Since we have a good team of hunter education teachers in our community we really do not need to attend a state training workshop as the message is all the same.      

True         False

  1. A county should send a team of leaders to shooting sports training to ensure the highest likelihood of developing a successful program.      

True         False

  1. To be a successful leader in the 4-H Shooting Sports project you need to be an avid shooter/archer and very good at your discipline.

True         False

 Montana 4-H Shooting Sports Code of Ethics

             A complete 4-H shooting Sports program must convey life skills development and be presented in such a way that is safe, technically competent, and helps to instill 4-H values in participants through teaching and example. Certified Shooting Sports instructors and volunteers must be cognizant of their role as a moral and ethical mentor, as well as teacher, to youth and adults in their state and community.

 As a 4-H shooting sports Volunteer Leader/Instructor:

  • I will respect the participants, volunteers and property associated with the 4-H shooting sports program.
  • I will set a good example as a mentor and role model for 4-H shooting sports youth and volunteer leaders.
  • I will conduct myself and my 4-H shooting sports program in a professional and ethical manner.
  • I will strive to be knowledgeable of the life skills embodied in the 4-H shooting sports program and aid positively in the development of youth through adherence to those principles.
  • I will strive to be technically competent in the subject matter I teach and adhere to the State 4-H shooting sports guidelines and curriculum.
  • I will respect the dignity of each participant in the 4-H shooting sports program regardless of gender, origin, ability, achievement or conviction.

 ___________________________________________                       ___________

                                Signature                                                                              Date