Moffat County shooters place at National 4-H Invitational |

Moffat County shooters place at National 4-H Invitational

Joshua Gordon

Colorado 4-H shooting team members stand with their coach Monday at Bear Ears Shooting Club in Craig. The four-person team, including Curtis Tuck, not pictured, competed in the National 4-H Invitational from June 19 to 24 in San Antonio. The team finished sixth in the smallbore rifle competition. Pictured above, from left, are Natasha Sloan, Austin Lee, Miranda Blomquist and coach Jody Lee.

A three-day event with two brand new challenges and one goal in mind.

The Colorado 4-H team competed in the National 4-H Invitational on June 19 to 24 in San Antonio, Texas.

While it was a weeklong event, the team only competed on three days in the smallbore rifle competition using .22-caliber rifles.

The Colorado team was unique, however, in that it was comprised entirely of Moffat County 4-H members — the first time in 4-H history the team has been made up of members from the same club.

Miranda Blomquist, Austin Lee and Natasha Sloan, of Craig, and Curtis Tuck of Massadona all qualified for the team at the state competition last August.

"It was the first time the state has been represented by one club," Jody Lee, the Moffat County 4-H Shooting Sports coach, said. "We received a lot of support from the community this year. Normally we may have one or two shooters going who have to pay their own way, but we had four this year and the community stepped up to help us cover expenses."

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The smallbore rifle competition was comprised of three events — three-position international, silhouette and CMP, or civilian marksmanship program.

Of the three, Jody said the team had only competed in three-position prior to the national event.

"Each state has it's own separate competitions, and we didn't do CMP or silhouette," he said. "They were completely new to us, so we had to prepare more on those two than three-position."

On the first day of competition, the shooters got to partake in their familiar event, three-position international.

Tuck' seventh-place finish led the team to a fifth place overall finish in the event out of 17 teams.

Austin, 17, said nerves came into play during the first day.

"It was pretty scary because everyone there was the top of what they did," she said. "There was fear I wouldn't do good, but I knew I fought to be there so I had to do my best."

Blomquist, 18, said the competition level was a step up even from the state event.

"We had to qualify at state and there were some good shooters there," she said. "At nationals, I don't think there was anyone who wasn't good. It made us step up in a good way."

The second day brought the first unfamiliarity in silhouette, where each competitor had to shoot at 10 targets at four different ranges.

While none of the four shooters placed in the top 10, the team put together a solid combined scored to take sixth place.

CMP came on the third day and saw Blomquist take seventh individually and the team take eighth place.

Blomquist said to prepare for CMP and silhouette, the team didn't focus on three-position as much leading up to the event.

The other states, Austin said, still had an advantage, however.

"We knew going in that others had shot the two events all year," she said. "We had been practicing for a month while they had been doing it since they were 8 years old."

With the combined scores from the three events, the team finished sixth out of 18 teams in the smallbore rifle competition.

This was the last year for Blomquist and Austin on the Moffat County 4-H shooting team, as both graduated from Moffat County High School in May.

"It was a little nostalgic knowing it was my last time," Austin said of the national event. "It felt great to make the national event in my last shot and I had good time and didn't mess anything up."

Sloan, 16, will return next year, but per national rules, she cannot qualify for the national competition in smallbore rifle again.

No matter, she said, as she has others goals in mind.

"I was junior state champion in 2009 so I am now going to try for senior state champion," Sloan said. "Plus, there are other categories I can aim for. I still have goals I want to accomplish."

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