The slogan of 4-H is “learn by doing” – In many respects the “learn by doing” works well for some things, especially skills related, but on certain topics this approach has caused confusion for first time 4-H participants (and their parents) as they try to figure out what they need to do to do their 4-H activity correctly. This very brief guide is meant to fill in some of the gaps to make it easier to understand 4-H.
Before we dive into the recipe for a successful 4-H year we need to get some things straight in the lingo/terminology department.
Project – You’ll find the term project used repetitively in an ambiguous and confusing manner. Sometimes people in 4H use the term project to describe the entire 4H activity for the year, but in shooting sports it may also refer to the actual “project” they create for the fair. This confusion of terminology is due to differences between livestock clubs vs. clubs that do skills related work like sewing, photography, and yes… shootings sports.
So here’s an example… If you were in the poultry club and someone asked what your project was, the answer would be raising a chicken. The chicken (poultry) is the project for the 4-H year as well as what you intend to take to the fair.
When we talk about shooting sports, the 4-H “project” is shooting sports, but the “project” you take to fair might be a display board or a gun case. If that doesn’t make sense, see a 4-H leader and they will be happy to explain it.
Discipline – Within 4-H shooting sports there are a number of different disciplines. Those are Air Rifle, Air Pistol, Archery, Outdoor Skills, Shotgun, Muzzleloader, 22 Rifle, 22 Pistol. The disciplines are not entirely relevant until you get to the point of submitting your fair project, at this point you need to choose a discipline for the project to be categorized into. For example if you built an arrow then it should probably be under the “archery” discipline, if it’s a display board about bullet sizes it might be under the discipline “22 rifle” and so on. In terms of participation in 4H a member may participate in any activity they want any night, in fact they are encouraged to try all disciplines.
Recipe for a Successful 4-H Year
- Attend 60% of the club meetings. The club meetings are the nights we shoot inside, as well as the nights at the gun range and the business meeting nights. Basically you just need to attend 60% of them.
- At some of the 60% meetings you attended presumably you either shot air rifle, archery, shotgun, air pistol, muzzleloader, 22 pistol or 22 rifle. Whichever discipline you participated in you need to KEEP YOUR SCORE SHEETS. You need the score sheets later to help you put together your record book.
- Take some photos and have some photos of you taken. You’ll need them for you 4-H record book.
- In the spring it’s time to start thinking about what you want to make for the county fair. A great place to start can be a display board – they are simple and inexpensive to create and can be on any topic related to 4-H shooting sports. This is also a good time to take the score sheets you collected and begin writing them down on the provided form for your record book. The record book will be turned in with your fair project. If you do this early in the year it’s a lot better then trying to figure it out at the last minute.
- Complete a community service project – this can be anything, but the key is 4-H participants need to participate in a project to better their community. As a club we usually schedule a day to help cleanup the Gypsum Gun Club (that’s the wonderful gun range in Gypsum that allows our club exclusive access to shoot on thursday evenings – yes they close the entire range for us so we say thank you by cleaning the place up once a year).
- Provide a demonstration (usually on demonstration night) – this is to help the kids develop public speaking skills – it can be anything from how to use a yo-yo to how to kick a soccer ball or how to care for your recurve bow.
- About a month before the fair you will receive a postcard or email from the county 4-H office asking what your 4-H project is. You need to return this so they can schedule your interview (that’s the date/time and place you’ll turn in your fair project and notebook).
- Lastly, put together your fair project and complete your record book, and then turn them in at the date/time you’ve been scheduled for. When you turn in the project it’s called an interview because the judge (who awards ribbons etc.) will ask you about your 4-H experience. For the interview we recommend treating it like an important meeting – dress up, comb your hair, brush you teeth, etc. If you have a cool project you’re nearly to the finish line, the last part is to deliver it and make a good impression with the judge. You might win an award and have your project sent to State. How cool would that be?