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  IDNR Wingshooting Clinics   

youth getting instruction on aiming a shotgun

 The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) working with a variety of partners, sponsors wingshooting clinics at sites geographically distributed throughout Illinois. Two types of clinics are offered. Youth/Women's clinics are designed to teach participants basic firearm and hunter safety, wingshooting fundamentals, as well as practical wingshooting. Hunters clinics are designed to enhance the wingshooting skills of hunters and impart sound wingshooting practice techniques. The clinics are conducted on weekends during the spring through early fall of each year.

A schedule of the clinics sponsored by the IDNR can be found at Wingshooting Clinic Schedule. For further general information about wingshooting clinics, or for information about becoming a clinic sponsor please contact Dave Cassens at (217) 785-7742, Terry L. Musser at (217) 782-6752, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., or Joe Robinson at (217) 785-8060, 8:00 a.m.. - 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. For specific information about a scheduled wingshooting clinic or to register for a clinic, call the number on the schedule next to the clinic of interest.


Hunter getting instruction on aiming a shotgunHistory

The first clinic was held in June 1999 at the Des Plaines Conservation Area in Will County near Joliet, IL. Thirty-eight wingshooting students were trained in the fundamentals of shotgun shooting. Clinic participants and sponsors were enthusiastic about the philosophy and format of the clinics. The success of that first pilot clinic provided the stimulus to expand the wingshooting clinics to other IDNR and several privately owned sites throughout the State. 

The Will and Grundy County Chapters of Pheasants Forever (PF) cosponsored the first clinic with the IDNR. The Will and Grundy County PF Chapters provided monetary assistance as well as the assistance of several members to man the clay target traps.

Information: Youth/Women's Wingshooting Clinics

Instructor watching woman shootEach clinic is comprised of a morning classroom session taught by either an IDNR Certified Volunteer Hunter Education Instructor or an IDNR or National Sporting Clays Association (NSCA) Certified Wingshooting Instructor. Students learn firearm nomenclature, firearm safety, and some principles of hunter safety during the morning session.

The afternoon session is taught at a shooting field or range by IDNR and NSCA Certified Wingshooting Instructors. Typically each wingshooting instructor works with a group of four shooting students during the afternoon session. Most students are either beginners or have novice level shotgun shooting ability when enrolling in the clinic. The objective is to teach students the fundamentals of hitting a moving target with a shotgun with reasonable reliability.  An equally important objective is to work with each student to ensure the fundamentals of safe shotgun handling are learned and practiced in the field.

The youth/women's clinics are taught using twenty-eight gauge semi-automatic shotguns. On sites where non-toxic shot is required twenty gauge semi-automatic shotguns are used. For the beginning and novice wingshooting student unaccustomed to recoil and lifting the weight of a shotgun, these small gauge, gas operated shotguns are considered ideal for teaching. Their low recoil and reasonable weight make them quite manageable for new students.

Standard Youth/Women's Wingshooting Clinics are held on Saturdays and Sundays. A typical Saturday clinic session accommodates twenty-four shooting students comprised of boys and girls ages 10-15. A Sunday clinic session also accommodates twenty-four shooting students, but the students are typically comprised of girls ages 10 and up and women of any age. Boys and girls must be at least 4 feet 6 inches tall and weigh 75 pounds or more to participate. However, clinics of this type usually can be quite flexible when accommodating shooting students. Its not uncommon to have one or more groups of women on Saturdays and a couple of groups of boys on Sunday.

As the IDNR Wingshooting Program has advanced, some wingshooting clinics have changed to a one day format and a new type of clinic was developed. While the standard two day clinic format predominates, the flexibility afforded by changing to a one day clinic format and developing an additional type of clinic has allowed the IDNR Wingshooting Program to reach more shooting students.

Youth/women's wingshooting clinics held in the one day format are conducted just on Saturdays. These one day clinics accommodate as many as forty shooting students comprised of boys, girls and women. One day clinics continue to have a morning classroom session and an afternoon field shooting session with a group of four shooting students with a wingshooting instructor.

Another type of clinic pairs a wingshooting clinic with a pheasant hunt to provide young hunters and women new to hunting an opportunity to develop and practice their shotgun shooting skills and then participate in a pheasant hunt. Participants are required to have passed an Illinois Hunter Education Course and have a valid hunting or sportsmen's license. These wingshooting clinics/pheasant hunts have a morning session with short safety session followed by shooting session in the field with a wingshooting instructor. The pheasant hunt is held during the afternoon.

Youth/Women's Wingshooting Clinics are available to students either for free or for a small registration fee. Most of the funding for the clinics is provided by the IDNR, the Illinois Conservation Foundation, and clinic sponsors.

Participants do not need to have passed a Hunter Education Class. Note: Wingshooting Clinics do not satisfy the Illinois Hunter Education Requirement.

Information: Hunters Wingshooting Clinics

Instructor holding a clay targetHunters wingshooting clinics were added to the Department of Natural Resources wingshooting program in 2001. Designed to enhance the wingshooting skills of hunters, these clinics are open to sportsmen and women ages 16 years and up. IDNR and NSCA Certified Wingshooting Instructors from the IDNR's Wingshooting Program, each working with a squad of four hunters with similar skills, refines and enhances the wingshooting technique used by each participant. Hunters with wingshooting skill levels from beginner to advanced are encouraged to attend.

Participants shoot a variety of clay target presentations on a sporting clays course designed and setup or specifically modified for the clinic. Target presentations resemble actual field hunting situations. Participants will encounter presentations that mimic the flight characteristics of pheasants, quail, rabbits, doves, ducks and other game species. Sound wingshooting practice techniques are also taught at hunters clinics.

Hunters clinics are held on weekends with two 4-hour sessions available to participants each day. Each daily session, morning or afternoon, typically has twenty to twenty-eight participants depending on the number of instructors. Normally, each wingshooting instructor works with four participants each session. A $30 fee is assessed each participant to cover the cost of clay targets and on course refreshments.


Sponsors

Funding for the twenty-eight and twenty gauge shotguns used in the youth/women's clinics has been provided by a variety of sponsors. Sponsors include the Illinois Conservation Foundation, the Illinois Hunting and Outdoor Sports Association, the National Rifle Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever, and Quail Unlimited.

As the IDNR Wingshooting Program has expanded, funding for additional equipment has come from a variety of sources. Substantial support for equipment such as clay target traps (i.e., clay target throwers) and trailers used to transport equipment has been provided from various units within the IDNR. Substantial support has come from Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration funding that is designated for hunter safety and hunter training programs.

Funding for shotshells, clay targets, and lunch for youth/women's clinic participants is provided through the generosity of the local chapters of one or more of the organizations listed below and from individual and business sponsors from the vicinity of the wingshooting clinics. Members from local chapters of these organizations have helped with the clinics by manning the clay target throwers and by preparing lunch for participants. Wingshooting clinics for women and young wingshooters would not be possible without the significant monetary and volunteer support from these businesses and sportsmen's organizations, their chapters, and their members.

Illinois Conservation Foundation (ICF) The role of the Illinois Conservation Foundation and its partners is to preserve and enhance the State's natural resources by supporting and fostering ecological, educational, and recreational programs for the benefit of all people now and for generations to come. The ICF sponsors golf and fishing outings and celebrity hunts from which funding is derived for educational shooting programs.

Illinois Hunting and Outdoor Sports Association (IHOSA) works for the interests of the game bird husbandry, hunting preserve, and outfitting industries. The IHOSA has a forty plus year history of working for conservation, hunting, and shooting in Illinois.

National Rifle Association Foundation (NRA Foundation) Established in 1990, the NRA Foundation, Inc. is a tax-exempt organization that raises tax-deductible contributions in support of a wide range of firearm-related public interest activities of the National Rifle Association of America and other organizations that defend and foster the rights of all law-abiding Americans. These activities are designed to promote firearms and hunting safety, to enhance marksmanship skills of those participating in the shooting sports, and to educate the general public about firearms in their historic, technological and artistic context. Funds granted by the NRA Foundation benefit a variety of constituencies throughout the United States including children, youth, women, individuals with physical disabilities, gun collectors, law enforcement officers, and hunters.

National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) is a national organization that encourages habitat development for wild turkeys and other woodland species. The NWTF assists young sportspersons through its "Jakes" events and sportswomen through its Women in the Outdoors Program.

Pheasants Forever (PF) is a national organization that promotes habitat development for ring-necked pheasants and other upland wildlife. PF also supports efforts to improve the knowledge, ethics, and skills of sportsmen and women.

Quail Unlimited (QU) is a national organization emphasizing habitat development for bobwhite quail and upland wildlife with a strong interest in educating young sportsmen and women.

Whitetails Unlimited (WTU) is a national organization which provides funding support for educational programs, habitat conservation, and the preservation of the hunting tradition for the direct benefit of white-tailed deer and other wildlife.

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