Under the guidance of a certified instructor, youth will learn the responsible handling of shotguns to shoot trap, skeet, and sporting clays. Youth will gain knowledge and build life skills such as responsibility, decision making, discipline, goal setting, teamwork and safety. For ages 10-18. 

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Exploring 4-H

Exploring 4-H Shooting Sports - Shotgun Spark Activity: A Point in the Right Direction 

A shotgun is pointed; a rifle is aimed. Pointing is a less precise term than aiming. Let’s demonstrate. Most shotgun shells contain many small, round pieces of lead or steel balls. These balls come in different sizes but the premise is the same: it is easier to hit a target by shooting many projectiles instead of just one! 

You’ll need a helper to throw a Frisbee, paper plate, or some other disc through the air. This will serve as your target. You will try to hit this disc using two different forms of ammo. First try throwing 10-12 pieces of something small like pea gravel or jelly beans at the target. This represents a shotgun load being fired. After experimenting with targeting using this load, try throwing one single projectile, such as a golf ball or rock, at the disc target. This single projectile represents a bullet, which is most often shot by a precisely aimed rifle. Repeat this game as many times as you’d like but take note on if it is easier to hit the disc flying through the air with your shotgun load or your bullet? 

4-H Project Levels and Goals
  • Learn first shot fundamentals 
  • Learn dominant eye
  • Learn range commands 
  • Demonstrate muzzle control and management of different actions 
  • Know steps to firing a shotgun 
  • Practice dry firing 
  • Manage recoil
  • Demonstrate proper stance and balance
  • Demonstrate live firing
  • Know how to select proper ammunition for different purposes
  • Begin becoming more consistent in hitting targets and set a goal Know how to safely store and transport a shotgun
  • Know proper range setup and target scoring
  • Improve form including stance, grip, trigger control, and proper breathing techniques
  • Explain sight pictures, lead and follow-through
  • Be able to identify errors in form and position and coach improvements
Put Your Project Into Action

 Show Your Skills

  • Poster of the parts of a shotgun
  • Poster or scrapbook of pictures of your shooting sports events related to shotgun
  • Interview a family member or a skilled person about their experiences with a shotgun

Service and Leadership

  • Volunteer for local wildlife, sportsman’s or firearm safety organizations
  • Participate in fundraising activities to help promote conservation and wildlife
  • Give a talk or demonstration on a shooting sports project
  • Serve as a role model to younger members about the importance of safety around firearms when participating in instructional classes and shoots (Note: only certified instructors are allowed to teach lessons)


  • Make and sell wooden gun cases
  • Gunsmith or range manager

Technology Connection

Connecting with a Mentor

  • Ask your family members about who may be skilled at handling shotguns so that you may be connected with someone that your family trusts
  • Connect with a local sportsman’s club or trap range
  • Check with local law enforcement or an Illinois Department of Natural Resources volunteer hunter safety instructor


  • Illinois 4-H Shooting Sports events
  • National 4-H Shooting Sports events

Project Manuals & Exhibit Requirements

  • 4-H Shooting Sports Shotgun

Purchase manuals on the Shop Illinois 4-H Store

View exhibit requirements and scoresheets on the Illinois State Fair page.

woman shooting shotgun in sporting event
  • Law Enforcement
  • Armed Forces/Military Conservation Officer
  • Forest Rangers
  • Security Guard
  • Forensic Science Technician
  • Sales of Firearms
Start a Conversation
  • Did you know that the term “gauge” refers to how many lead balls it would take to make one pound when they were the exact size diameter of the barrel?
  • What do you think actually happens inside the barrel of a shotgun when it is shot?
  • How does the shotgun push little pellets so fast and with such force?

University of Illinois Extension staff and volunteers that contributed to this resource include Curt Sinclair 

4-H Spark Sheets are a collaborative effort of 4-H staff, volunteers, alumni and teens from across Illinois. A big thanks to the many contributors and reviewers!