The Moffat County 4-H shooting team took home seven first-place finishes at the 2008 State Fair finals. Members of the team, front row from left: coach Jody Lee and coach Steve Sloan. Back row from left: Natasha Sloan, Austin Lee, Dakota Lee, Bob Aaberg, Wesley Chapman, Mark Tuck, Miranda Blomquist, Parker Hagins, Curtis Tuck and coach Red Lee. Not pictured: Justin Willems, Brady Springer, Kearn Gerber and Colten Yoast.

Robin Sloan/Courtesy

The Moffat County 4-H shooting team took home seven first-place finishes at the 2008 State Fair finals. Members of the team, front row from left: coach Jody Lee and coach Steve Sloan. Back row from left: Natasha Sloan, Austin Lee, Dakota Lee, Bob Aaberg, Wesley Chapman, Mark Tuck, Miranda Blomquist, Parker Hagins, Curtis Tuck and coach Red Lee. Not pictured: Justin Willems, Brady Springer, Kearn Gerber and Colten Yoast.

4-H shooting team gets 7 state titles

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Sharp shooters

Moffat County .22 Sharp Shooters State 4-H senior team:

Mark Tuck

Justin Willems

Austin Lee

Miranda Blomquist

2008 State Fair finals results:

• Senior hunt - first place

• Senior 4-P sporter team - second place

• Senior team 3-position - first place

• Senior scope team - first place

Moffat County .22 Sharp Shooters State 4-H junior team:

Parker Hagins (hunt, sporter, 3-position)

Natasha Sloan

Curtis Tuck

Wesley Chapman

Brady Springer (scope)

2008 State Fair finals results:

• Junior hunt - first place

• Junior 4-P sporter team - first place

• Junior team 3-position - first place

• Junior scope team - first place

What began in a classroom - with endless hours of safety classes - in April, culminated a month ago in seven state championship titles.

The Moffat County Sharp Shooters 4-H team, a group of athletes unrecognizable to the casual sporting fan, did something no other Moffat County sports team did this year.

The small team from Moffat County captured enough hardware to fill a gym bag, but it didn't come easy.

The Sharp Shooters competed in the season-ending Colorado State Fair finals Sept 4 in Pueblo, eager to compete on the sport's biggest stage.

But, because of Mother Nature's refusal to follow suit, the season finale was postponed.

"We had just started the competition, and it started raining like crazy," Sharp Shooters coach Jody Lee said. "We traveled all that way and it got canceled."

So, the team traveled home, no round recorded, wondering what would come next.

"We had to have another county representative come and witness us shoot targets at home," Lee said. "So we invited all the teams from Northwest Colorado and held our own Northwest Regional."

The team from Garfield County accepted, and the rained-out state finals were a thing of the past. The new finals were now a home event.

Moffat County fielded the smallest team in the state this year, but they came away with the biggest awards haul.

The four-member senior team of Mark Tuck, Justin Willems, Austin Lee and Miranda Blomquist won three of the four senior shooting events.

In the lone event the team didn't win - 4-P sporter team shooting - they finished second.

The junior team followed suit, eventually outdoing the seniors.

Junior team members Parker Hagins, Natasha Sloan, Curtis Tuck, Wesley Chapman and Brady Springer, swept all four events.

"These kids put a lot of hours out there on the range," Lee said. "We practice two times a week, two hours each time. They put the time in, and now they are being rewarded."

Lee said he thinks the shooting sports events are the largest growing events within 4-H competition, and he's proud his team is the top dog of the new 4-H era.

"It's awesome how well these kids did this year," Lee said. "With the way shooting is growing, it's great to see our kids, from this little area of Colorado, are proving they are the best."

What's left for the team now, is patience.

Competitors for the national shoot - which takes place in June - is still up in the air.

"We won't find out until November," Lee said. "Until then, we just have to be patient and wait and see."

He didn't have to wait that long.

Thursday evening, Lee received a phone call letting him know his daughter - Austin Lee - qualified as an alternate.

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