4H Shooting team dominates state competition
National qualifiers from Moffat County 4-H Shooting Sports
Natasha Sloan – .22 rifle
Dakota Lee – air pistol
Dylan Villa – air pistol, .22 rifle
Last year when the Moffat County 4-H Shooting Sports Team won its third straight state title in the .22 rifle competition, it was a first in Colorado history.
Last weekend Moffat County youth shooters added to that legacy by making it four in a row.
At the 2012 Colorado 4-H Shooting Sports Contest Aug. 19 in Peublo, the senior team (ages 15-18) from Moffat County won all four classes in the .22 caliber rifle, continuing a run of dominance that stretches back to 2009.
“Having a good team once or twice, you’ll see that once in awhile,” coach Jody Lee said. “Our junior team won the last three years and now our senior team has won four years in a row. We’re the only ones who have ever been able to accomplish that.”
Leading the way for the Shooting Sports team, which competed in .22, air pistol and air rifle, were Natasha Sloan, 17, Dylan Villa, 16, and Dakota Lee, 16.
Sloan, who competed in the national shooting event last year, placed second overall this year in Colorado for .22 shooters, and was best in the scope class.
Villa qualified for the Colorado national team (placing in the top four) in both .22 rifle and air pistol. He was the top qualifier from Colorado in air pistol.
“I was pretty excited (about nationals),” Villa said. “I’m looking forward to the tougher competition and meeting new people.”
Dakota made the national team in air pistol and was a part of the state champion team in .22 rifle as well.
The sustained success has made the team from Moffat County somewhat infamous across the state.
“We’re the talk up at state,” Sloan said. “You always hear stuff like ‘Look out for Moffat County,’ or, ‘Moffat County, they can really shoot.’”
A reason for Moffat County’s dominance is the team’s dedication to the sport across the board.
“The support from the parents and dedication of the kids is what makes our kids special,” Jody said. “They put a lot of peer pressure on each other, not to perform, but just to have fun and help each other out. The thing about this program is we don’t emphasize places. We don’t talk about who’s taking first or second.
“We ask them to act the way they’re supposed to act on the line and let the scores fall wherever they may.”
Each shooter is only allowed to attend nationals one time in each discipline, so Jody said many who make it don’t return the next year because they have accomplished their goal. That has not been the case for Moffat County, another reason for its run of success.
Sloan, who shot at nationals in 2010, has stuck around because she loves her teammates.
“We’re all like a big family,” she said. “I’ve known everyone here forever and when kids come in they fit right in.”
Dakota, who will be making her first trip to nationals, says the team is simply a fun group to be around.
“It’s the unity. It’s about the kids,” Dakota said. “It’s not about how well you shoot or things like that. It comes to competing against yourself and doing better than you did before.
“We lift each other up. That’s probably the coolest part.”