Moffat County 4-H aims high, shoots straight at state
When there’s greatness to be had, Moffat County kids are always willing to give it a shot.
Moffat County 4-H shooting sports teams saw a successful run at state competitions in late August and early September, with a handful of senior shooters looking to move on to the national level next summer.
Archery competed in Pueblo last month, and the Sliver Slingers’ junior and senior groups each took top team honors in the compound unlimited competition.
The group of Cutter Polly, Tatam Hickman, Brittany Schulze, Nick Pugh, Jaci McDiffett and Winter Rogers won the senior division, while Faith Berkey, Kelsey McDiffett, Brook Wheeler, Blake Duncan and Garett Stockman took the juniors.
Cutter Polly and Berkey each earned third individually, a ranking that would automatically qualify the senior for the national round were he not age-ineligible.
However, coach Sarah Polly said the team’s hard work can still carry on from here with another senior who placed eighth.
“Tatam Hickman has been invited as an alternate for nationals, but final placings for national team have not been determined,” she said.
Other archery highlights included junior Alexander Nichols taking third in the junior compound limited and Kimber Wheeler winning outright in the junior recurve limited.
Not to be outdone, the junior rifle team swept the small bore event, placing first as a group in the 3P international, 4P sporter, hunt and scope categories. Joey Gates individually won all but hunt, joined by Forrest Siminoe, Elias Browning, Logan Blackwell, Blake Hill, Chloe Villard and Abbie Blackwell.
Angela Hill won in the senior 3P event and led her group in hunt and scope, though Gabrielle Ellis led in third in the 4P, which, in second place, was the highest group result for the team that included Hill, Ellis, Kelton Villard and Donovan Converse.
Hill and Converse also shot in the senior air rifle competition, with Hill winning the Olympic offhand category. On the junior side, Gates, Siminoe, Abigail Martinez, Mackenzie Schneider-Ott, Arianna Anderson, Ryan Durham won the air rifle 4P, led by Gates in first.
While Hill is likely to return to the national competition next summer, and Kelton Villard also qualified in .22 pistol, coach Jody Lee expects the juniors’ showing to be an indicator of even more good things to come.
“Our juniors did exceptionally well, Joey was no doubt the top shooter in the state for them,” said Lee. “Seems like every year, there’s always a lot of things you see that makes you proud, and with the families we have such a good support system to help the teams out. It’s always such a group effort.”
4-H coaches also noted they’d like to thank Friends of the NRA as a sponsor.
Labor Day was a day of work for the Moffat County shotgun teams, which took to Colorado Springs for their state event. A third-place finish went to the junior team in the trap category, led by Logan Blackwell in second, followed by Will McStay, Torin Gray, Wyatt Dade, Elias Browning and Cody Dade.
The trap round was also the best for Carlin King, who tied for fourth among seniors and was ultimately fifth after a shoot-off among eight competitors, as well as fifth overall. Though the top four shooters move on to nationals, two of the leaders had already represented their county in the contest, putting King in third and on track to the next level.
Coach Adrian Gray noted that he wanted to thank departing coach Wade Gerber for his years of service.
Gerber said he had decided to step aside since he no longer has children in the program, though helping young shooters master marksmanship has made quite an impression on him.
“Now’s a good time to turn it over, but watching kids grow and learn and being better each year, they challenge themselves and the whole time I’ve been with them, they’ve just been a great group of kids,” he said.