Craig When it comes to shooting sports in Colorado, Moffat County continues to prove it’s not to be messed with.
The 4-H archery team competed at the Colorado State Shoot last weekend, and 19 Robin Hoods in the making showed off the fruits of their hard work. The Moffat County group entered three teams into the competition, winning once and taking home two second-place finishes.
The junior team in the compound (bow) limited division was crowned grand champion. The team of Ben Pugh, Nick Pugh, Sam Walls and Mackenzie Marshall shot well enough to be named the best team at state, with Nick Pugh taking first overall, Ben third and Marshall eighth individually.
They all knew they had shot well, but with so many other competitors at the event, it never was clear until the official scores came out.
“There were a lot of people there, so you couldn’t tell,” Marshall said. “I shot well compared to how I normally shoot. (The score at state) was about 10 points higher than before.”
But upon finding out they had won, it was a surreal experience.
“It was kind of disbelief at first,” said Walls. “It took a while to realize we really won.”
The elder Pugh was short on words about his individual championship but still is excited after the experience.
“It was awesome,” he said about learning he had won.
In the senior division for archers ages 14 to 18, Moffat County’s compound unlimited team of Tiffany Schulze, Travis Walsh, Weston Brady and Jordan Kainz earned reserve champion, or runner-up, honors. It was a spot better than their third-place finish a year ago, and Walsh was grand reserve champion individually, showing significant improvement in his third year with the team.
“I’m super excited,” Walsh said about his finish. “I knew I had done pretty good, but I didn’t know how good 'cause there were a lot of good shooters there. When I found out, it was complete excitement.”
As a senior archer, Walsh’s finish also earned him the right to attend the national archery shoot next year, a goal he set for himself after not coming close in previous years.
“I knew I wanted to go all year, but I knew I would have to put in the work to get there and practice,” he said. “When I saw the scores, I realized hard work pays off.”
Moffat County’s junior team in the compound unlimited division also took reserve champion. Jaci McDiffett, Brittany Schulze, Casey Copeland and Jacob Briggs also finished higher than they did a year ago, with McDiffett and Schulze placing seventh and ninth, respectively.
All members of the team were thrilled with their finishes and the way their teammates came out ahead, as well. Among the 514 archers at the state shoot, 19 from Moffat County left their mark.
“I think we have the most spirit of any team,” Marshall said. “When they were handing out ribbons, we were cheering and going crazy for everyone. Other teams just kind of clapped.”
That spirit is a major part of the team’s identity, as it's met and practiced at least twice each week since March, resulting in its success this month.
“We’re like a big family,” Brittany Schulze said. “Everybody is almost best friends.”
The team gave lots of credit to its coaches, Shawn and Sarah Polly, for getting it to the level of skill it now has, but Shawn reflected the credit right back.
“These kids have worked their butts off this year, so it’s all about them,” he said.
The 4-H archery season for Moffat County is over in 2013, but with indoor archery lanes now available in Craig, the work will continue, and they hope to repeat or even improve next summer.
“I can’t wait for next year,” said Tracer Hickman.
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@CraigDailyPress.com