The University of Massachusetts Pulls Support for 4H-Based Shooting Sports Program

Elementary school-aged Project Appleseed students learn gun safety, marksmanship, and civics. Image via Zombie Shooters.

The 4-H youth shooting sports program exists in every state but two, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Mandy Deveno, was going to change that – or so she thought. Mandy, a firearms instructor and 4-H volunteer decided to contact her local 4-H group and investigate their interest in starting a youth shooting sports program.


Her idea was well-received. She was scheduled to receive grant funding to cover all of the costs. However, once the host of the proposed program (the University of Massachusetts) was provided with the proposal, they declined to participate. According to UMass, they wanted to explore other avenues for a youth hunting program. This is an unfortunate situation, because the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, had agreed to financial support for the program once it was implemented.

Ed Blaguszewski, a spokesman for UMass Amherst, told MassLive:

Rather than focus limited resources on shooting sports only, the University is actively exploring development of a more broadly based program that includes instruction in hunting, fishing and conservation as part of our youth development activities. The hunting aspect of the program would include the basics of gun safety and the shooting sports.

According to the MassLive article, Deveno asked why they were being passed over, and she received a response from the Dean of the College of Natural Sciences at UMass Amherst. The response explained that the University was seeking out a broader program; although, some members of the community think otherwise.


“It’s absolute social bias against gun owners,” Jim Wallace, Executive Director of Gun Owner’s Action League told MassLive. “You’re being handed a successful program that’s been vetted nationwide, and then handed the funding for the program. What’s the problem?”

Both Wallace and Deveno talked to Fox News to address the following:

Wallace told them the program would not have cost the University a dime and would have served more than 1,000 young people.

The shooting sports program was started by firearms teacher Mandy Deveno, and she planned to follow national 4-H procedures as well as the state’s gun rules.

She added that the children would have not only learned the ins and outs of competitive shooting, they would have learned about citizenship, leadership, record keeping and public speaking, the paper reported.

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