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What is 4-H?

4-H Emblem

In 4-H, we believe in the power of young people. We see that every child has valuable strengths and real influence to improve the world around us. We are America’s largest youth development organization—empowering nearly six million young people across the U.S. with the skills to lead for a lifetime. ~ National 4-H

4-H is Community

4-H is delivered by Cooperative Extension—a community of more than 100 public universities across the nation that provides experiences where young people learn by doing. Kids complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture and citizenship, in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles. Kids experience 4-H in every county and parish in the country—through in-school and after-school programs, school and community clubs and 4-H camps.

4-H’s reach and depth is unmatched. 4 H reaches kids in every corner of America … with 500,000 volunteers and 3,500 4-H professionals providing caring and supportive mentoring to all 6 million 4-H’ers, helping them grow into true leaders today and in life. ~ National 4-H

For general information about 4-H, please visit the National 4-H Website.

4-H in New York State

4-H is a community of young people across America who are learning leadership,
citizenship, and life skills as they work in partnership with caring adults.

What does that mean? In 4-H we are committed to helping young people develop skills that will help them succeed. We want to empower all youth to reach their full potential. ~ New York State 4-H

For more information on 4-H in New York State and Cornell Cooperative Extension, please visit the New York State 4-H Website.

The New York State 4-H Shooting Sports Program
Focus on Positive Youth Development

4-H Shooting Sports is a comprehensive non-formal education, recreation, and competitive program focused on Positive Youth Development. 4-H Shooting Sports programing utilizes the safe and responsible use of firearms to address youth social issues related to STEM, health living, and civic engagement. In doing so, the 4-H shooting sports program provides opportunities for youth to gain valuable skills, practice leadership, and build relationships with non-parent adults. These three critical factors are the building blocks that enable youth to achieve mastery, feel a sense of belonging, explore independence, and act generously. When youth are engaged as resources worthy and capable of development, rather than objects to be fixed, they become competent, confident, connected, caring, character driven, and contributing members of society.

Positive Youth Development Programs Have Three Major Components:

  1. Positive and sustained relationships between youth and adults.
  2. Activities that build important life skills.
  3. Creating opportunities for youth to apply what they are learning to improve their communities, both as participants and as leaders.

The Fundamental Principles of Positive Youth Development Are:

  1. Competence - Positive view of one’s actions in specific areas, including social and academic skills.
  2. Confidence - An internal sense of overall positive self-worth and self-efficacy.
  3. Connection - Positive bonds with people and institutions that are reflected in exchanges between the individual and their peers, family, school, and community and in which both parties contribute to the relationship.
  4. Character- Respect for societal and cultural norms, possession of standards for correct behaviors, a sense of right and wrong (morality), and integrity.
  5. Caring - A sense of sympathy and empathy for others.
  6. Contribution - Contributions to self, family, community, and to the institutions of a civil society.

Objectives of the National and New York State
4-H Shooting Sports Programs

  1. To encourage participation in natural resources and natural resource science programs.
  2. To enhance the development of self-concept, character and personal growth.
  3. To teach safe and responsible use of firearms and archery equipment.
  4. To promote the highest standards of safety, sportsmanship, and ethical behavior.
  5. To expose participants to a broad array of vocational and life-long vocational activities related to shooting sports.
  6. To strengthen families through participation in life-long recreational opportunities.
  7. To complement and enhance the impact of existing safety, shooting and hunter education programs using experiential educational methods and progressive development of life skills and abilities.

New York State 4-H Shooting Sports Curriculum

New York State 4-H Shooting Sports takes our responsibilities to youth, their families and the communities in which we all live very seriously. We are committed to offering the safest and best programming possible. All curriculum disciplines for archery and firearms are taught and supervised by New York State 4-H Certified Shooting Sports Instructors or Nationally Certified 4-H Shooting Sports Instructors. All 4-H Shooting Sports Instructors must also adhere to the National 4-H Shooting Sports Code of Ethics.

4-H Shooting Sports is based on the National 4-H Shooting Sports mandated curriculum and training regimen and offered in the following disciplines:

  • Air Pistol/Pistol
  • Archery
  • Hunting/Outdoor Skills
  • Muzzleloader
  • Rifle
  • Shotgun

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) components are incorporated into all 4-H Shooting Sports curriculum disciplines.

National and New York State 4-H Shooting Sports
Program Core Concepts

  • Safety
  • Ethical Development
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Family Involvement
  • Lifetime Recreational Skills
  • Life Skills Development

4-H Natural Resources Projects

The New York State 4-H Shooting Sports Program is a broad based, multi-faceted program that encompasses and brings together many aspects of 4-H Youth Natural Resources programming. Involvement in 4-H Shooting Sports fosters responsibility and helps youth acquire and enhance knowledge, skills and abilities not just in Shooting Sports disciplines but in other project areas as well. Our Program can include many more opportunities for youth to be outdoors and engage in their environment:

  • Agriculture/Range Science
  • Bird Watching
  • Canoeing
  • Citizen Science
  • Citizenship
  • Civic Ecology
  • Clay Targets
  • Conservation
  • First Aid
  • Forestry
  • Habitat Enhancement
  • Home Firearm Safety
  • Living History
  • Outdoor Cooking
  • Map & Compass
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)
  • Survival Skills
  • White Water Rafting
  • Wild Edibles
  • Wild Game Cooking
  • Wildlife
                …And Much More!


To learn more about New York State 4-H Shooting Sports and New York State 4-H Natural Resources programming, please contact:

William M. Schwerd
Director, New York State 4-H Shooting Sports
50 West High Street
Ballston Spa, NY 12020
518-885-8995 Ext. 225


John F. Bowe
Assistant Director, New York State 4-H Shooting Sports
377 Schroon River Road
Warrensburg, NY 12885



New York State 4-H Shooting Sports is part of the National 4-H Shooting Sports Program and conducts programming through local county associations which are subordinate governmental agencies with an educational mission that operates under a form of organization and administration approved by Cornell University as agent for the State of New York. It is tax-exempt under section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Each association is part of the national Cooperative Extension System, an educational partnership between County, State, and Federal governments. As New York’s land grant university, Cornell administers the system in this state. Each Cornell Cooperative Extension association is an independent employer that is governed by an elected Board of Directors with general oversight from Cornell. All associations work to meet the needs of the counties in which they are located as well as state and national goals.  Local 4-H Shooting Sports programs exist in many counties and are available to all people, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, age, national origin, or physical disabilities.


The 4-H Name and Emblem are a Federal Mark and are protected under 18 USC 707 and subject to regulations that prohibit the 4-H Name and Emblem to be used in any way that implies endorsement or exclusivity of any firm, product or service.  The inclusion of entities, websites or other sources cited on the New York State 4-H Shooting Sports website, or New York State 4-H Shooting Sports affiliated online or media outlets, is representative of a cooperative partnership with 4-H and does not imply endorsement or exclusivity.