The 2017 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships were held June 25 - June 30 in Grand Island, Nebraska at the Heartland Public Shooting Park. 4-H youth from across the country competed in compound archery, recurve archery, air rifle, air pistol, .22 rifle, .22 pistol, shotgun, muzzle loading, and hunting skills.
The Montana 4-H delegation consisted of 24 competitors and 10 coaches in the shooting disciplines of air rifle, air pistol, small bore (.22 cal) rifle, small bore (.22 cal) pistol, recurve archery, compound archery, shotgun, and muzzle loading.
Members competed at the national level in teams, which are made up of the top four individuals from state qualifying tournaments in each discipline. Competitors must be 14-19 years old and may not compete in the same discipline twice. The three-day national competition at the end of June included over 700 participants representing 37 states.
The Montana 4-H Shooting Sports Project is the second largest project in Montana 4-H with more than 3,000 members. The goal of the 4-H project is to teach safe handling of firearms and bow equipment while instilling life skills of responsibility, critical thinking, sportsmanship, team building and ethical behavior.
4-H uses shooting sports to teach youth development. These programs are valuable for helping young people develop self-confidence, personal discipline, responsibility, teamwork, self-esteem and sportsmanship. The discipline and self-control required for responsible firearms use carries over into many other aspects of life. 4-H programs provide a positive experience for youth and promote the safe and ethical use of firearms.
Hunting and Shooting are rich American traditions. 4-H shooting sports programs help continue this tradition.
Small Bore Pistol: (22LR)
Montana took 14th overall.
Berit was the 2nd highest shooter on the state team, and shot her personal best during the slow fire relay. Her greatest challenge was shooting silhouette targets at 100yds with a 90 degree 15mph crosswind gusting to 25 mph with a 22cal pistol.
Berit shared one of her biggest highlights of the week: “It was so cool to step up to the firing line on the first day of competition and realize that I was on the line with the best teams that 37 states had to offer. We all were competing against each other, but we were all there to have fun and learn from each other too. It was all those little moments: talking with the team from Missouri, meeting a coach from Minnesota, hearing the kids on the New Mexico team tell a joke. Just learning and having a good time, it was all so much fun.”
Air Pistol (17cal)
Montana took 7th overall and placed 5th in silhouette air pistol. Levi was the 2nd highest shooter on the state team, and shot his personal best silhouette score.
Levi had an entertaining memory from the trip: “All of us on the air pistol team had to modify our pistols after shooting the silhouette match and remove the scopes. We didn’t want to spread out and try to do it on our own, so we met up in the hotel lobby and laid out our pistols, gear, and tools. It was normal to us, but people kept coming in and out of the lobby and looking at us strangely, which we thought was hilarious.”