West Virginia’s natural resources officials want to get more people involved in hunting, fishing and the shooting sports.
The Division of Natural Resources’ R3 plan is designed to do just that. The program’s goal, as the name implies, is to recruit, retain and reactivate people into outdoor recreation.
Three teenagers from the southeastern part of the state have launched their own version of R3, one focused specifically on young people.
They call their organization the West Virginia Hunting and Shooting Sports Program. It’s mainly a Facebook page right now, but the founders plan to conduct a day camp that will introduce youngsters to shooting, hunting, trapping and fishing.
“We got the idea last November,” said Makayla Scott, the group’s spokeswoman. “We realized that the state’s hunter-education program helps to introduce young people to hunting, but it doesn’t really help to retain them.
“We thought that if we introduced them to a wider variety of activities, they’d be more likely to find something they like enough to stick with it.”
Scott, 17, got into shotgun sports at age 12, and has since become a sort of Pied Piper for them. After she shot on a team that set a world record for the most clay targets broken in a 12-hour span, she helped organize the Mountaineer Clay Crushers, a Greenbrier County-based team that competes in the national Scholastic Clay Target Program.
Two of her teammates, Ella Goodwin and Shane Arthur, form the balance of the West Virginia Hunting and Shooting Sports committee. Together, they’re making plans for their day camp, which they hope to hold in August.
“Right now, we plan to include a turkey-calling class, a sporting-clays class, a fishing class, a basic trapping class, things like that,” Scott said.
She found a sympathetic ear in Steve McDaniel, director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, who invited her to present her ideas at a recent meeting of the state Natural Resources Commission.
“The DNR plans to steer young people who participate in hunter-education classes toward our program,” Scott said.
In the meantime, Scott and her committee plan to go through the process of chartering and finalizing their organization, establishing their brand, and securing the funding they’ll need to conduct their first camp.
“We want to promote local brands, so we’re looking for local sponsors,” Scott said. “And we’d like to get the DNR to help us organize things. These things take time, and they take money.”
She said people who are interested in her fledgling organization should visit the West Virginia Hunting and Shooting Sports page on Facebook.