Jeffrey Hill, a graduate of Hubbard High School and now a student at the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, believes being a member of the 4-H Shooting Sports Pioneers was a big help in teaching leadership skills that prepared him for his Air Force career.
''It helped a lot,'' Jeffrey Hill said. ''For me it was more being around younger guys and I was able to teach the younger kids. It gave me a lot of confidence in my leadership abilities.''
Jeffrey Hill's father, Jeff Hill, agreed that teaching leadership skills is one of the important aspects of the club, which holds its meetings and classes at the Fish and Game Club of Vienna.
''There is no competing,'' Jeff Hill said, ''just getting together to teach proper use of firearms and archery.''
The club, which is part of the Trumbull County 4-H program out of The Ohio State University Extension, meets the first and third Friday of the month from January through May. Members also participate in competitions during the Trumbull County Fair. Club participants, consisting of youths ages 9 through 18, go through three disciplines involving shooting, Jeff Hill said. Those include the fundamentals of rifle, pistol and shotgun use. Archery also is a part of the program.
In addition to having two children in the program, Jeff Hill is an advisor for the group and is an instructor in the rifle shooting discipline.
The meeting is conducted by the youths, who elect their own officers, Jeff Hill said. Adults are on hand during the meetings to help out when needed. Prior to the meeting, the archery class is held and directly after the meeting, the members break into groups where they shoot .22-caliber rifles, pistols and go outdoors to shoot at skeet targets with shotguns, weather permitting.
An average of 60 children participate in the program, Jeff Hill said. All advisors and instructors are certified and have gone through background checks, Hill said.
A 2011 graduate, Jeffrey Hill, participated in all three shooting disciplines as well as archery.
''Getting to shoot every week gives you experience,'' Jeffrey Hill said.
Being a member of the club helped teach him things the average person who goes out target shooting may not learn, he said.
''The more fine tuned stuff, like breath control,'' Jeffrey Hill said. ''You go further in depth by being a member of the club.''
In addition to his son, Jeffrey, Jeff Hill's daughter, Kailyn, 17, also is a member of the club. Kailyn has been a member since she was 9, Jeff Hill said, and she prefers shooting rifle, but also likes shooting pistol, he said.
The Vienna Fish and Game Club has an indoor range for rifles and pistols, Jeff Hill said. Club members go through a safety course before using the ranges and are taught various shooting positions and techniques, he said.
In addition to learning gun safety, shooting and archery, club members also participate in community service projects including collecting items and sending packages to troops overseas and putting flags on graves prior to Memorial Day at the cemeteries in Vienna.
Even if he didn't have children in the program, Jeff Hill said he would still to instruct children in the 4-H shooting program.
''It's just seeing the reactions of those who have never shot a gun before or the excitement in their eyes when they get their first bullseye,'' Jeff Hill said.
The Shooting Pioneers, along with the Vienna Fish and Game club will host the Shooting Sports Fest from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 29 at the club on Youngstown Kingsville Road. The Sports Fest is open to all youth 9 to 18 and will include instruction in the safe handling of firearms and archery equipment with hands on experience. Pre-registration is required by Sept. 21.