The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will host the 41st annual Youth Hunter Education Skills Tournament state championship on April 28 at the John F. Lentz Hunter Education Complex in Ellerbe in Richmond County.

The Commission conducted nine district competitions in March (which serve as qualifiers for the state competition) with more than 4,500 middle and high school students participating. Sixty-two teams will move on to compete at the state level in rifle, shotgun and archery marksmanship, compass orienteering and a hunter responsibility exam.

Competition is conducted on senior (high school) and junior (middle and elementary schools) divisional levels, with overall team and individual awards based on aggregate scores in all events. This year saw 330 teams participating from 209 public and private schools, homeschool associations and 4-H clubs.

“All year long, these kids have been honing their skills and promoting hunting heritage while keeping safety at the forefront,” said Josh Jernigan, the Commission’s shooting sports coordinator. “Win or lose, they have a lot to be proud of.”

The championship represents an opportunity for competitors who advanced from district events to showcase shooting and outdoor skills as well as knowledge learned through the Commission’s Hunter Education Program.

While the competition is for students 18 years and younger, the Commission offers free hunter education courses and advanced hunter education on a regular schedule for all ages. For more information, go to www.ncwildlife.org/huntered or call 919-707-0031.