4-H shooters aim to qualify for state fair

When Nick Lee fired his .22-caliber rifle at the Cedar Mountain Shooting Range on July 21, it was the last round he fired in the 4-H regular season, and it was also his last chance to qualify to shoot at the state fair.

"Nick qualified for the state fair in three events, the senior hunting rifle section, muzzleloader and shotgun," said Jody Lee, Nick's father and Moffat County 4-H shooting coach. "He'll probably compete in everything except for the shotgun, since he'd be the only one on the team."

Although the shotgun team may be thin on numbers, it is anything but for the rifle-team qualifiers from the July 21 competition.

Fourteen Moffat County 4-H team members qualified in four different rifle shooting divisions for the Aug. 19 Colorado State Fair in Pueblo.

Twenty-eight members of Moffat County 4-H participated in the last competition.

To qualify for the state fair, a 4-H participant must finish in the top six places in the shooting competition.

The top four finishers will compose the state fair team, while the fifth- and sixth-place finishers will serve as alternates.

Hunting and target shooting were the two classes that shooters attempted to qualify in.

"The hunting class is basically unmodified, out-of-the-box guns, while the target class is the guns which are specialized for target shooting, and are a little more complex style of shooting," Lee said.

Participants competed in two different sections in the two classes junior and senior sections. The junior section is for children 8- to 14-years-old, while the senior section is for youths 14- to 18-years-old.

There are not many differences in how the two age groups shoot, except for the senior target shooter's class. Participants in the senior target class take 10 different shots from three positions, while all other classes and age groups take five shots from four positions.

The July 21 shoot was not only a qualifying competition for the state fair, but also served as the completion of the Participant Shooting Program, which began in March.

"The program is an introduction for all shooters to firearms safety and the basics of shooting," Lee said. "We get all ability levels into the program from ranch kids who have been shooting all their lives, to kids whose parents use 4-H to teach the basics."

The program started with close to two months of safety and basic shooting classes.

In May, the youth shooters hit the Cedar Mountain Shooting Range every Monday and Wednesday for target practice.

"It's a good program to become involved in," Nick Lee said. "It's just a fun program, and gives those involved in 4-H a chance to participate in something besides just livestock events."

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