4-H Shooting Sports / Wildlife

Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions?  This is the place to find the answers!

What is the Shooting Sports / Wildlife Project?
It is a project for 4-H youth that allows them to learn about wildlife conservation and firearm safety while building self-esteem and confidence through numerous related activities. These activities include wildlife study, conservation projects, target shooting (archery, air rifle, air pistol, .22 rifle, muzzleloading), trap shooting (shotgun), state and national level competitions, and other local and regional events.

Is membership in a local 4-H group required?
For the most part, yes. Shooting Sports is open to all members of 4-H that are in third grade or older. Most members belong to a local 4-H club, but there are some that are 'Independent' members. For more information on becoming a member of 4-H, please contact your local Extension Office. Contact information is available on our Links page.

How much does it cost?
Shooting Sports project dues currently are $30 per year but there is also a $15 dues for membership in 4-H itself. Those who wish to obtain their Minnesota Firearms Safety Certification (which is highly recommended) can do so, but there is an additional fee of $15 for materials and certification expenses that we must turn in to the DNR. Dues help to cover the costs of the shooting range facility, shooting equipment, some ammunition, targets, and wildlife projects. Those who "burn powder" also have to provide their own ammunition once we move outdoors during the summer months. There are other optional expenses, such as entry fees for the State Shoot.

We don't own any guns or archery equipment. Do we need to purchase any in order for our child to participate?
No, gun ownership or bringing your own gun is not an initial requirement. The club does own some air rifles, air pistols, .22 rifles, shotguns, and archery equipment. We highly recommend that those who own or have access to such equipment bring their own as there is a limited number of club owned pieces. Targets, arrows, and ammunition for air rifles are provided by the club, but those who wish to shoot trap, .22, or black powder are required to provide their own ammunition. Shotgun shells typically range in price from four to six dollars per box, depending on the shells you purchase, and .22 rifle cartridges typically cost about ten dollars per 500 shells. Black powder supply costs vary with the type of powder, balls, and patches that you use, but costs are typically in the $.50 per shot range. We do usually have some 12 and 20 gauge shotgun shells and .22 cartridges available for sale at our cost if a child wishes to shoot trap but did not bring any shells. There is also a charge for clay targets for those who shoot trap. At present we typically collect $1.50 for each box of 25 shot shells fired during a session. Most members that shoot trap will typically shoot one or two boxes of shells per evening, meaning that their clay target fees are typically between $1.50 and $3.00 per evening.

What other equipment will my child need to have?
    It is necessary for each member to provide his or her own eye protection for any kind of shooting event, including archery. Ear protection is required for those shooting .22 rifle, black powder, and shotgun, but is not necessary for archery, air rifle, and air pistol. Eye and ear protection is also required for observers and parents that are observing the shooting range.
    We highly recommend that you put together a small duffel bag for your youth's shooting equipment. This bag should contain the following items:

Is my child required to shoot shotgun or muzzleloaders even if he or she does not wish to do so?
No. Members are allowed to choose which shooting disciplines they wish to participate in. Some younger children may tend to shy away from shotgun or black powder due to the noise and anticipated "kick" of these larger guns, but they usually find that it is not as severe as they expect once they try it. Usually they want to come back for more! We typically start the younger kids with air rifles, first shooting BBs, then moving up to pellets. Eventually, they move up to the larger guns after they have had the chance to establish some basic skills and build up their self-confidence.

Are there any age limitations for membership?
Yes, although the limits are set by grade level, not physical age. Members must be in third grade or higher, but please see the note below about the requirement for youth seventh grade and younger to have a parent or responsible adult present during all shooting events. Those who wish to qualify for their Firearm Safety Certificate must be at least eleven years old when they take the training and the exam, but the certificate, if earned, will not be valid until the child's twelfth birthday.

Are the youngsters split up at all by age group, and if so, what other age limitations are there?
The youngsters are split up by school grade for Shooting Sports activities. There are some age limitations within Shooting Sports, and they are listed in the table shown below. A youngster is considered to be in one grade for the entire project year. In other words, if a child begins the project year in January and is in 3rd grade, he or she is considered to be a third grader for the entire project year, even at the State Shoot in September when the child has actually started the fourth grade. 

Age Group Grades
Third Grade 3rd
Junior 4th, 5th, 6th 
Intermediate 7th, 8th, 9th 
Senior 10th, 11th, 12th, 1st year of college


Youth may participate in the State Shoot events listed and indicated with an 'x' in the following table

Event Third Grade Junior Intermediate Senior
Wildlife Calling x x x x
Wildlife Skillathon x x x x
Archery A (Recurve, no sights)   x x x
Archery B (Recurve, with sights)   x x x
Archery C (Compound bows)     x x
BB gun x x x  
Standard Air Rifle   x x x
Three Position Air Rifle   x x x
Air Pistol   x x x
Air Rifle Silhouette Shoot   x x x
.22 Field Grade Rifle (Open sights)     x x
.22 Target Grade Rifle (Peep sights)     x x
.22 Pistol Fun Shoot     x x
Muzzleloading     x x
Intermediate Trap (50 targets)     x  
Senior Trap (100 targets)       x

Juniors are not allowed to participate in any of the powder burning events by mandate from the U of M.  They are not allowed to burn powder on any 4-H range, even in their home county.

My child participates in shotgun and we would like to use reloads to save money. Can he or she use reloads at 4-H?
We are sorry to say, no, not at this time. At one time reloads were permitted, and reloading was even offered as an available discipline within the Shooting Sports project. The use of reloads does need to follow specific guidelines set at the National level, but for a number of reasons Minnesota no longer offers reloading as a discipline. The National rules dictate that we need to have all reloads inspected by a properly certified 4-H coach prior to their use. We do not have any properly certified coaches in this area, thus we cannot properly inspect those loads, and as a result cannot allow their use.

Is my child required to enter a project in the county fair?
No, but it is highly recommended. County fair projects are an excellent way for youth to work on projects that they are interested in, not just on the ones that they are required to do in school. Fair projects are also excellent self-esteem builders. There is nothing like the look on a youngster's face when he or she finds out that they get to take their project to the State Fair!

How often does the group meet?
During the winter months, we meet indoors at the new regional law enforcement training facility located between Jordan and Shakopee, called SCALE, where we study wildlife and set up an indoor air rifle range. When weather is not too cold, we can also shoot .22 rifles outdoors. Members meet each week on Thursday evenings.
    Once we move outdoors (typically late April or early May) members meet once each week on Thursday evenings through the summer. During the outdoor sessions, all shooting disciplines are practiced. These sessions take place rain or shine, but in the event of severe weather an occasional session may need to be cancelled. In the event of rainy weather, we spend the session indoors studying wildlife conservation or shooting air powered firearms. Thus far we've been rather lucky: in the last few years we have only cancelled two evenings of shooting due to severe weather.

Can parents stay and watch while the children are involved in these sessions?
Yes! In fact we strongly encourage parental involvement. Parents that observe or participate with their children send an unspoken but strong message to their children that they are truly interested in what their children are doing and in seeing them succeed. That message goes a long way toward building a strong bond that lasts through the teenage years, right into adulthood. We all know that a strong bond is a big factor in reducing the number of youth that become involved with drugs and alcohol. Additionally, we will occasionally invite the parents to try shooting if they wish. Eye and ear protection are required for parents as well as youth when shooting or observing at the range. 

Please note: Youth younger than seventh grade will need to be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult at all times. We simply do not have enough instructors available for them to "babysit" someone's children in addition to working on wildlife projects or operating a shooting range. We consider this to be a safety issue since an instructor that is preoccupied with behavioral issues is not able to properly keep his or her attention focused on the safe operation of the shooting range. Youth sixth grade and younger that do not have a responsible adult present will not be allowed to shoot. THERE WILL NOT BE ANY EXCEPTIONS TO THIS RULE!  (This rule does not apply for the DNR Firearms Safety Certification classes).

Parents who need or wish to obtain their Firearms Safety Certificates can take that training right along with their youngsters. Please contact an instructor for details if you wish to obtain that training and certificate at the same time as your child. 

Does my child have to attend each and every session?
No. We encourage that the members do attend all of the sessions, but it is not a requirement. We know that there are times when schedule conflicts can occur. The only exception is for those that are going through the Firearms Safety Certification Course. Sessions for that course are mandatory if the child wishes to obtain a Firearms Safety Certificate. We do our best to notify parents well in advance of those sessions. Mandatory sessions are also noted on our Schedule page.

Is paintball equipment or are paintball games ever used?
Absolutely not. 4-H has a strict national policy about paintball, and it is not allowed or sanctioned by any 4-H entity. Our instructors work with youth, teaching them proper muzzle control at all times. Pointing any kind of firearm, including a paintball gun, at any person or human looking target is a total disregard for the most basic of firearm safety rules.

Shooting is enjoyed by persons of all ages. Can the parents shoot also?
We would love to say yes, but due to the number of youth in the program, and limited space on the shooting ranges, parents do not get to shoot as a regular activity. However, we do have some sessions each year where the youth are given the opportunity to teach their parents how to shoot. On these evenings the parents will get to shoot, but will be shooting 4-H equipment and following 4-H rules and procedures.

Are the instructors certified by any controlling authority such as NRA or DNR?
Yes. Shooting Sports instructors must be certified through the 4-H Shooting Sports organization. Instructor Certification for any one shooting discipline requires attendance at a 4-H sponsored two day training session, and the prospective instructor must pass a test at the end of that training session. They are instructed by National Board Certified instructors who endure even more rigorous training, and they are experts in their respective disciplines. In Scott County we are very fortunate to have fifteen adult instructors, four of whom are National Board Certified. All 4-H leaders and instructors must also submit to a very thorough background check.
    Those instructors who also teach the Firearms Safety Certification classes must complete the Minnesota DNR Firearms Safety Instructor course and clear yet another background check in addition to the steps taken by 4-H.

How can I be sure that my child will be safe?
Safety is the number one concern at 4-H Shooting Sports sessions and events. The safety rules followed by the instructors are similar but more strict than those you will find at most trap or target ranges. The presence of multiple instructors for any one shooting discipline also keeps more eyes and ears on the event and helps to keep everyone safe. The kids also develop and are more likely to retain good firearm safety habits when they learn by the good examples set forth by the instructors. From what we have been told, up to this point in time there has not ever been a gun related death or injury on a 4-H shooting range in the United States. We intend to keep that statistic intact!

What are the requirements for a participant to attend the State Shoot in September?
There are several, and they depend on a number of factors, but the basics and other information are listed on our Competitions page.

If you have any other questions, please contact us. Information for doing so can be found on the 'Contact Us' page.