A Win-win in the Great Outdoors
By Kyle Schwabenbauer, Clarion River Chapter
Whenever you put kids and RMEF volunteers together for a day in the outdoors, it’s always a win-win. This proved true once again this summer when Pennsylvania’s Clarion River Chapter pitched in at the Clarion County Sportsmen for Youth’s (CCSY) 18th annual “Youth Field Day” on July 24.
The event is a daylong outing designed to introduce young people, ages 8-14, to shooting sports and a variety of other outdoor activities. This year, RMEF volunteers helped out at several of the 16 individual event stations, which included archery, crossbow, shotgun, .22 rifle and muzzleloader target shooting, as well as trout fishing, boating safety, trapping, wild game tasting, turkey calling, a fun-run obstacle course, tree-stand safety, taxidermy and a drug awareness station. Event stations were non-competitive and stressed safety, individual instruction and appreciation for the outdoors. With help from a RMEF state grant, all activities, along with a t-shirt, hat, lunch and door prizes, were provided at no cost to participants or their families.
From its humble beginnings in 1993, this event now hosts more than 400 young people annually and is the largest event of its kind in Pennsylvania. To date, the CCSY has introduced more than 6,190 youngsters to the world of hunting, fishing and the outdoors. This huge success has been the result of cooperation and support from a variety of local sportsman’s clubs, businesses and national corporations and organizations, including RMEF, Benelli USA, Savage Arms, Federal Ammunition, Summit Treestands, Hoyt, Horton Crossbows, Plano and Quaker Boy Game Calls. The CCSY has no paid employees and operates solely thanks to volunteers.
One of the highlights of this year’s event was a shooting exhibition by Benelli USA staff shooter Tim Bradley. Bradley is a professional shooter, known for his extraordinary skills with a shotgun. His shooting feats involve a variety of trick shots, including shooting up to nine hand-thrown clay targets at a time. Bradley lived up to his reputation and delivered a stellar performance that resulted in him being mobbed by youngsters seeking his autograph. To his credit, he stayed on-hand to sign every t-shirt and hat that was passed his direction.
A big part of the day’s events was the prize ceremony. This year, the supporting sponsors stepped up in a big way. and more than 100 shotguns were given away to attendees. If that wasn’t enough, additional prizes included 12 compound bows, several Horton crossbows, a Summit treestand, two mountain bikes and much more. Two lucky kids also won a guided youth pheasant hunt with the Wired Outdoors television show. Their hunt will be featured in an episode airing this fall on the Sportsmen Channel. Each child who didn’t win a major prize received a Plano tackle kit and a soft gun case.
CCSY would like to thank the Elk Foundation for its generous support over the years. It is organizations like the RMEF—and its dedicated volunteers—that have allowed so many young people to experience shooting sports and other outdoor activities for the first time. This commitment is critical to promoting and ensuring that our outdoor heritage is preserved for generations to come.