The Yadkin Patriots from Forbush Middle School in Yadkin County took top honors in the nation as junior champions at the 29th annual International Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC), a week-long shooting and outdoors skills competition held in late July in Mansfield, Pa.

Sponsored by the National Rifle Association, the YEHC pitted teams from across the country competing in marksmanship with .22-caliber rifles and blackpowder rifles at knock-down targets, shotgun on a sporting clays course, and archery at 3-D game targets. Non-shooting events included orienteering, wildlife identification, hunter responsibility and ethics exam and a hunter safety trail test.

Nearly 300 competitors, coaches and parents from across the country attended this year’s event.

In North Carolina, teams and individuals qualified for YHEC through the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s district and state Youth Hunter Education Tournaments. Teams were organized on senior (high school) and junior (middle and elementary schools) divisional levels.

The Yadkin Patriots won the junior division national championship with a team roster consisting of coaches Carson Hobson and Brian Lineberry and students Colton Bullin, Brady Carter, Jacob Matthews, Austin Stanley and Matthew Lineberry.

“Carson Hobson is a longtime hunter-education instructor and volunteer with youth activities, so it is especially gratifying to see his team win,” said Tim Lemon, a hunter-education specialist with the Commission from Wilkes County. “This achievement is a tribute to his leadership and commitment, as well as the commitment and performance of the team.”

Matthew Lineberry finished second in the aggregate competition among junior-division competitors, and teammate Matthews finished sixth. The Yadkin Patriots finished first as a team in orienteering, the hunter responsibility exam and the hunter identification exam, second in archery and fifth in blackpowder, shotgun and .22 rifle.

Other notable finishers from North Carolina in this pre-collegiate shooting sports championship include:

· Hunter Efird of Albemarle, placed second in the senior individual overall category.

· The Red Wampus Cats of Forbush High School took third place in the senior team division with a roster consisting of Coach Chris Poplin and competitors Jordan Dinkins, Colton Horn, Dylan Horn, Dylan Poplin and Jordan Yale.