Recent events have caused many Americans to look with negativity towards guns. While all of us are disheartened that misguided individuals have sought to harm others, I thought I would inform all of the Sun Advocate readers of some positive aspects of gun ownership and safety. Last weekend my family assisted with the 2013 State YHEC (Youth Hunter Education Challenge). This event, co-sponsored by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and the National Rifle Association, brought about 115 young men and women along with their families to Carbon County. The focus of the event is to encourage youth to become safe and competent sportsmen / sportswomen, hunters, and outdoorsmen through friendly competition. This statewide event also helps to select the youth who will represent Utah at the national YHEC competition later in the summer.
This event brought in youth from the entire state to compete in hunter education skills which teach the youth how to be safe in an outdoor environment. Since all of my children are grown, we were volunteering rather than helping them compete. As a result, I was able to observe the youth as they all tried to do their best. While the uninformed may view this event simply as a marksmanship challenge, the event was much more. There were written tests on hunter ethics, wildlife and animal tracks identification. There were also tests on map, compass and orienteering events along with firearms safety challenges. The main focus was not about the hunter's harvest, but the skills and knowledge needed for our youth to be respectful, ethical, and safe hunters and sportsmen / sportswomen. I was extremely impressed with the youth's respect for and abilities to safely handle and shoot a variety of firearms and archery equipment.
This event also helped to showcase Carbon County for people from Logan to St. George. I would like to commend our local businesses. Several of the contestant's parents commented on how the workers at our hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations made them feel welcome. That kind of advertisement cannot be bought, but is earned through our local merchants' customer service attitudes. I feel confident to say that the families who came to our county for this event will not hesitate to come again.
Behind the scene there was a lot of work which went into putting on an event of this magnitude. I wish to thank our County Commissioners, Travel Bureau, County Recreation Department and staff, Gun Range Director and staff, and the Event Center Director and staff for their efforts to make this a memorable event for this group of young people and their families. We are fortunate to have a world class gun range and event center which attracts events such as this. With the dwindling revenues from coal and gas production, I see these attractions as helping to keep our local merchants in business. I doubt that these venues will ever generate huge profits, but the monies they will bring to our community through the retail sales of goods and services by our local businesses may help defer some of the losses they are sustaining from the mineral and gas production decline.
Last of all I would like to thank the YHEC event chairpersons, JJ and Tammy Price. They and their staff worked tirelessly to bring this event to our community and while our businesses may have profited, their focus was on our youth. I am grateful for their efforts and for the efforts of the local volunteers who donated their time, money and labors for these young people. This event couldn't have happened without the combined efforts of our state and local government as well as a dedicated group of volunteers who care about our children and their future.
While recent events tend to give a dark view of guns and gun ownership in our country, this event has given me a brighter outlook for our youth and their ability to be responsible hunters, sportsmen, and future gun owners. Kudos to all those who were involved with this event and to all those who help our youth to become responsible citizens.