West Virginia Outdoor Youth Challenge Rules Changed

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Substantial changes that will allow more participation will be made this year to the format of the very popular Outdoor Youth Challenge, part of West Virginia's Celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Days, scheduled for September 27 and 28 at Stonewall Resort State Park in Lewis County.

"This celebration is one of the best outdoor recreation events held in West Virginia, with hands-on learning and instructional opportunities for youth and the entire family in celebrating West Virginia's wildlife and outdoor heritage," according to Director Frank Jezioro of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.

In the past, the Outdoor Youth Challenge was a scored competition of events dealing with wildlife, fishing, marksmanship (shooting) and other activities related to outdoor recreation. There were two age classes (ages 11-14 and ages 15-18) and a grand prize was awarded to the overall winner of the competition in each age class.

Changes in the Outdoor Youth Challenge have been initiated as a means of significantly increasing youth participation by removing the competition factor (scoring), unless a youth requests to be scored. Ultimately, it is hoped that many more youths will try the events, just for fun and to have the exposure and experience of trying something new – without the pressure of being tested. This year, any youth between 6 and 18 years of age may participate in the Outdoor Youth Challenge events. However, those youths 11-18 years of age who would like to compete will still be able to do so with five scored competitive events which include casting for accuracy, archery and .22 rifle, muzzleloader and shotgun (skeet) shooting.

All youths who wish to participate must complete a free, on-site registration where they will be given a color coded registration card for Outdoor Youth Challenge events. The Outdoor Youth Challenge will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday at West Virginia's Celebration of National Hunting & Fishing Days. There will be approximately 20 events and each youth must complete at least 10 events to be eligible for prize drawings. Upon completion of an event, the youth's registration card will be validated by the official overseeing that event.

Two types of registration will be offered for the Outdoor Youth Challenge. The first will be for those youths 6 to 18 years of age who would like to participate in the Youth Challenge events just for fun and the experience, but do not wish to compete. The second type of registration will be for youths 11-14 and 15-18 years of age who wish to compete in the scored events. The numerical score for the five scored competitive events will be recorded on the youth's registration card. These youths, in addition to completing the scored events, must also complete at least five of the un-scored Youth Challenge events.

All Outdoor Youth Challenge participants will have a chance to win a grand prize and other secondary prizes each day. The grand prizes are two lifetime hunting and fishing licenses, donated by the Chestnut Ridge Chapter and Pricketts Fort Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, one given away each day. Among the secondary prizes, there will be two youth compound bows (donated by the West Virginia Bowhunters Association) and two muzzleloaders, one of each given away each day. For those who wish to compete, a Junior Conservation Camp Scholarship (junior group ages 11-14) and a State Conservation Camp Scholarship (senior group ages 15-18) will be awarded each day. These Conservation Camp Scholarships are sponsored by Mountain Air Services, an aviation service company owned and operated by Mike McWhorter at the Upshur County Regional Airport in Buckhannon, West Virginia.

"The Outdoor Youth Challenge is probably the most important single event at West Virginia’s Celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Days," Jezioro said. "It encourages our state's youngsters to learn new skills and to gain important knowledge and experience about wildlife, hunting, fishing, firearms safety and outdoor recreation. For some youngsters, this may be the only opportunity they will have to be exposed to these fun and exciting outdoor activities."