woman shooting shotgun in sporting event

Welcome to Illinois 4-H Shooting Sports! Illinois offers shooting disciplines of archery, rifle (air and small-bore), shotgun, pistol, and outdoor hunting skills. Each local program is guided by a Certified 4-H Shooting Sports Coordinator. The Illinois 4-H Shooting Sports program is part of the National 4-H Shooting Sports Program which sets the standards and guides the curriculum.  The focus of all 4-H programs is the development of youth as individuals and as responsible, productive citizens. The Illinois 4-H Shooting Sports program stands out as an example. Youth learn marksmanship, the safe and responsible use of firearms, the principles of shooting and much more. The activities of the program and support of caring adult leaders provide young people with opportunities to develop life skills, self-worth and conservation ethics.

Shooting Sports

How do I participate in Illinois 4-H Shooting Sports?

Shooting Sports projects must be taken under the direct supervision of a certified 4-H shooting sports instructor. Youth must belong to either a Shooting Sports SPIN club or a 4-H Community Club that has trained/certified instructors that provide the direct instruction to those 4-H members wishing to take Shooting Sports Projects.  We currently offer the shooting sports program in almost all of our county programs. Check with your local University of Illinois Extension office to find a club near you. The club meets at least six times during the 4-H year, but many meet several more times. Because safety is important, the 4-H Shooting Sports project is only available to members enrolled in an organized 4-H Shooting Sports SPIN Club or Community 4-H Club that has certified instructors that provide direct instruction for the specific disciplines that they have been trained trained.  Shooting Sports projects cannot be taken as an individual project.

What do 4-H members do at club meetings?

All 4-H clubs put the development of the young person first, so 4-H shooting sports clubs are designed to make every member feel welcomed and safe at the meetings. Parents are always welcome to attend and be involved. We encourage members to take leadership roles in their club and mentor younger youth. 4-H members are inspired to give back to their communities by discovering needs in their neighborhoods and helping those in need. The majority of a shooting sports club meeting is spent learning the shooting sports discipline they are enrolled.

  • Practice safety techniques and response to range commands.
  • Learn basic shooting fundamentals.
  • Clean and maintain firearms and equipment.
  • Learn about eye and ear protection.
  • Learn the ethics about responsible gun usage.
  • Take field trips.
  • Develop shooting skills.
  • Explore wildlife conservation.
  • Enter competitions

boy drawing bow

What areas of Shooting Sports can I learn?

There are five different 4-H Shooting Sports projects ... or what we call disciplines.

  • Archery is open to youth 8 to 18 years of age. Youth may use both recurve or compound bows.
  • Air rifle is open to youth 8 to 18 years of age; Smallbore rifle is open to youth 10 to 18 years of age.
  • Shotgun is open to youth 10 to 18 years of age
  • Air pistol is open to youth 10 to 18 years of age; .22 caliber pistol is open to youth 12 to 18 years of age.
  • Outdoor and hunting skills is open to youth 8 to 18 years of age.

You can choose one or more of the disciplines to study, as long as there is a certified volunteer in your county to serve as an instructor in that area.

When will the club meet?

Clubs may meet whenever it is convenient for everyone and wherever there is a safe shooting range available. Often meetings are held at established ranges, at sportsmen's clubs, or at adapted outdoor ranges set up by the club. Meetings may consist of an hour of shooting and a short program. Some clubs meet throughout the year, while others combine several experiences in a one- to two-month period. Our overall emphasis is on safety and ethics.

Is there a cost to joining a 4-H Shooting Sports Club?

Yes, all 4-H members pay an annual $20 program fee. In addition, your club may hold fundraisers in order to provide resources your club may need, such as equipment, ammunition, facility costs, etc.

How do you start a 4-H Shooting Sports Club?

If there is not currently a Shooting Sports program in your county and you would like to start one, find a team of adults who are also interested and attend the next statewide training that is available. Then find youth in the county that are interested in joining the club, and enroll with the county Extension office. Start meeting with the club, and enjoy learning together! It is important to contact your county Extension office prior to attending a training.

Can parents be involved?

Yes! 4-H is a family program. Parents often come to the meetings and act as range safety officers or assistant instructors. One or more may serve as club leaders. Assistant Instructors must be approved by the county's Certified Instructors.

Do I need to bring my own equipment?

Many counties have equipment that is provided for the club members. This way anyone can participate. It also lets members find out what they prefer to work with and what fits them the best. However, most clubs allow members to bring their own equipment with the approval of the Certified Instructor. Check with your local club for more details on their equipment policies.

If members bring their own equipment, does it need to be certified by a gunsmith before they can use it?

If you have certified instructors in that discipline, they should have the expertise to decide if the firearm is safe, unsafe, or needs to be checked by a gunsmith. Most clubs usually do not require a check by a gunsmith but require that any firearm or bow that isn't the club's property be inspected and approved by the certified instructor.

Who leads the club?

Adult leaders who have completed a state training for the program usually serve as leaders for the club. These leaders are interested in working with young people on shooting skills, as well as life skills. Certified leaders may also train assistant volunteer instructors to help with their club on the county level. All county-level practices must be performed with at least one certified instructor present in each discipline area that is being taught.

How can I become a certified instructor?

To become a certified instructor you must attend a state certification workshop. You must be 21 and be accepted as a 4-H volunteer leader which includes an application process and approval from screening processes. You must have in interest to work both with adults and youth, have an interest in shooting sports, and have some knowledge of shooting techniques.

Where can I find more information?

4-H Shooting Sports Coordinator
Curt Sinclair, 4-H Memorial Camp, 499 Old Timber Road, Monticello, IL  61856
217-762-2741 or