Moffat County 4-H shooting team seeks another trip to nationals after state completion event
A little rain didn’t stop Moffat County’s 4-H shooting teams from competing for a place at state in the past week.
“That little shower was just part of the day,” said Coach Jody Lee.
More than a dozen children ages 8 to 18 competed at Bears Ears Sportsman Club in Craig for a chance to move on to the state level in August in Pueblo.
Parents, grandparents and siblings looked on under the shelter of pop-up awnings while the junior and senior 4-H members competed Saturday, July 20.
Theresa Young’s granddaughter, Jamie Perez Young, 9, was one of the youngest competing.
“This is her first time to do it and she’s catching on pretty well,” Young said. “She really likes it. If you’re going to live up here in the mountains, it’s a good skill to know. I’d even like to be able to shoot.”
Lee, who has been a part of 4-H for over two decades, said 4-H does more than teach children how to accurately shoot a target.
“4-H is an awesome program because of the way it’s structured,” he said. “The most important thing is safety. The self confidence of the children, the shooters and the kids, it builds self esteem.”
It instills in children a set of skills that will come in handy off the shooting range, he said.
“Besides just the shooting, you have to do a demonstration, you have to interview at the county fair,” he said. “So we teach them how to present themselves, stand up, have good manners, good ethics and speak well.”
After the competition, the 4-H team had a potluck lunch while the coaches scored the events.
The top six scores in Juniors and Seniors in all four divisions — scope, open sight, four-position target and three-position target — will have a chance to compete against other Coloradans at the state competition.
Pistol competitors followed Sunday, while air rifle and air pistol completion events took place Wednesday beneath the grandstands at Moffat County Fairgrounds.
Among those will be moving to state are Angela Hill, Gabrielle Ellis, Joey Gates, Chloe Villard, Forrest Siminoe, Isaiah Miles, Mackenzie Schneider-Ott, Rylee Villard, Tayla Siminoe, Jayden Hill, Makylee Ott, Zayne St. Martin, Austin Jazwick, Hannah Miles, Devren Styles, Gabriel Miles, Levi Greenhow, Lane White, Joash Miles, and Blake Hill.
The state event will be one of many older shooters have attended, and some have gone much further than that.
Moffat County shooters set a new standard earlier this summer when Angela Hill, Gabrielle Ellis and Joey Gates were at the 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships in Grand Island, Nebraska.
The three of them, combined with Routt County’s Taylor Kirby, made up an all-girl team that won the CMP event.
The civilian marksmanship program is a format Gates said she and her teammates were not used to, though they were thrilled to excel in the discipline.
“Going into a competition and shooting against people who have been doing that their entire lives and shooting careers, getting first place is a huge accomplishment. It’s the first time a Colorado team has won,” she said.
Gates — who also placed second individually in CMP while Hill was fourth — said the style went in a rapid-fire format and also required them to from a much greater distance with bigger targets.
“We’re used to taking our time, and in this, you just have to go for it,” she said.
Having a group made entirely of Northwest Colorado shooters made it all the more special, Gates said, adding that Kirby’s severe injury in a car accident last year and subsequent recovery in time for the big event was another element that only made things more impressive.
“For her to be able to go to nationals is just amazing,” Gates said.
Gates said she and her teammates will be shooting multiple events at state, and now that she knows what to expect, she’s already looking forward to more big things with the aid of capable teammates and the guidance from seasoned shooters she’s come to expect at the local level.
“Coming in I was really nervous, but my coach went there before, and he was so supportive,” she said. “I’m really excited to see what the future holds, and I hope I can go back to nationals in air rifle.”