Two Iroquois County youths compete in 4-H state shooting sport competition
More than 3,600 4-H members participate in one of the five 4-H shooting sports disciplines. Each fall, the oldest of those members compete in four state contests to determine the state winners and delegates to the National 4-H Shooting Sports Competition to be in June 2020.
Iroquois County had entrants in the events: Alexis Gerdes and Carson McGill, both with the Ashkum Go-Getters 4-H Club.
The 2019 State 4-H Archery Shoot competitors started the day in the wooded area around the Pekin Archers complex where they shot both three-dimensional targets and flat field targets. In the afternoon, participants aim for round targets from distances of 50, 40, and 30 yards. At this point of the competition, participants start to feel fatigue from repetitive shooting. By the end of the day, each competitor will make 105 shots.
Top ten finishers in the compound division included McGill, Iroquois County, third. Gerdes placed 12th.
The state contest was Sept. 21 at the Pekin Archers facility near Pekin.
Seventy-eight members from 23 counties competed in state 4-H shotgun shoot contest held Sept. 14 at Bunker Hill Shooting Park near Bunker Hill.
Twenty-nine 4-H members competed for top honors at the State 4-H Rifle Shoot Oct. 12-13 at Central Illinois Precision Shooters in Bloomington.
The shooting sports project teaches the responsible and safe handling of firearms. Members must be involved in a club led by a certified volunteer who has completed the National 4-H Shooting Sports training.
“4-H Shooting Sports Clubs are founded on the principles of positive youth development,” said Lisa Diaz, University of Illinois assistant dean and Illinois Extension 4-H director. “We want our members to feel welcomed in our program, to grow in leadership and independence, and be inspired to be generous in service to others as they master the skills of shooting sports.”
“The project teaches responsibility, patience, and precision which will transfer to other aspects of life,” said Robin Mizell, Extension 4-H program coordinator. Mizell said he sees older members take time during events to mentor and encourage younger members.
“That’s what 4-H is all about.” Mizell said. “Whether it’s shooting sports or public speaking or cooking or showing livestock, inspiring others to work hard to achieve their own personal best is a core 4-H value.”
Top finishers in the contest have the option to advance to national competition, said Curt Sinclair, Extension 4-H shooting sports specialist. The Illinois 4-H Foundation provides financial support for the national teams.
To become involved in the 4-H shooting sports program in Iroquois County, one may find the local Extension office at 4-H.illinois.edu.