Hunting and Fishing Heritage Expo

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As in past years, two of the nearly 20,000 outdoor lovers attending Hunting and Fishing Heritage Expo will be crowned winners of the Wyoming Youth Hunter Challenge.

But there are a couple new Expo activities, where everyone is a winner: The Shooter's Pentathlon and personal wing-shooting instruction.

Youngsters 10 to 18 years old can earn the pentathlon certificate, by pulling the trigger or string on a pellet gun, .22 rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader and bow and arrow. "The pentathlon was designed to introduce youngsters to the shooting sports in a non-competitive atmosphere," said Helen McCracken, Game and Fish hunter education coordinator.

Participants can complete the pentathlon in a couple hours or over the course of all three days of the Expo, Sept. 6-8. Earning the certificate also enters the young shooter into raffles for hunting gear. The archery and pellet gun ranges will be at the Events Center with the firearms at the Stuckenhoff Shooting Range. All equipment and ammo is provided.

From its beginning in 1998, the Expo has been blessed with demonstrations by some of the continent's most renown scattergunners in the likes of John Satterwhite, the Shotgun Wizard and Wyoming's own Phil Kiner, champion trap shooter. This year, those celebrities, along with the U.S. Shooting Team and notable Laramie shotgunner Roy Kern, will be offering one-on-one shotgun instruction 3 - 5 p.m. Sept. 6-7 and 12 - 3 p.m. Sept. 8.

"Bird hunters can get help with that particular shot they just can't seem to master, from one of the masters of shotgunning," McCracken said.

If you're between 12 and 18 the G&F not only invites you to the challenge, we urge you to come to the match. The competition of .22 rifle and shotgun marksmanship, written and hands-on tests of firearms safety and wildlife identification will be held Sept. 7 at the Hunting and Fishing Heritage Expo in Casper.

Like all other Expo activities, the challenge is free. Firearms and ammo are provided. The competition, for two groups 12 to 14 and 15 to 18, is patterned after a similar test developed by the National Rifle Association.

First place receives tickets to the Expo banquet where the winner will be personally recognized. The winner also receives a subscription to Wyoming Wildlife magazine and News. All contestants receive a cap and other challenge souvenirs and will be recognized in this publication.

"What a great event to test your skill on your favorite hobby," said 17-year-old Joe Varcalli of Casper, who won the upper division in 2000.

Now there's two reasons why the G&F is hoping to get a lot of young hunters to enroll in the challenge: 1) In the three years of the challenge all 60 or so youngsters involved said the experience was great, and we want more kids to have the experience. 2) The Expo wants to show the world how important hunting is in Wyoming and that kid's are concerned about promoting the ethical future of hunting. There are groups who are dedicated to eliminating hunting. If they see dozens of youngsters in a state as small population-wise as Wyoming taking part in a hunting challenge, it may send them away with their tail between their legs.

"I encourage all young hunters across the state to mark Sept. 7 on their calendar and come to Casper and take part in the challenge," McCracken said. "The challenge gives kids a chance to display not just their hunting skill, but also their hunter safety and responsibility. It shows kids really care about hunting and its future."

Interested youngsters can call the G&F at (800) 842-1934 or (307) 777-4538 or e.mail jeff.obrecht@wgf.state.wy.us for an application or more information.