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 held in June 2020.

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.”

Sometimes the real wins have nothing to do with how many bullseyes you hit; it’s what changes inside of you because you tried.

This fall the Mason County 4-H Shooting Sports members participated at three separate State 4-H shooting sports competitions. Youth were able to make friends, have fun, and learn from others interested in the sport. They had success in their individual disciplines and showed overall improvement with their shooting skills.

Shotgun- On September 14, 2019, a total of seventy-eight 4-H shooting sports members from across the state came together to battle for individual and top team scores in the state shotgun competition. Owen Dye (88 points), Jessilyn White (87 points), Mason Purtle (39 Points), and Nic Jones (84 points) represented Mason County at the 4-H State Shotgun Competition at Brittany Shooting Park in Bunker Hill, IL.  The competition was tough and youth faced high winds during the competition. The top scorer for the day, hitting 97 of 100 clays, was from LaSalle County.  Kyle Spangler of Fulton County landed a position in the Top Ten with 92 points and in seventh place overall. The Mason County 4-H Shotgun team members were instructed and coached by Matt Fliege, Jennifer Dye, and Joshua Powell.

Archery-The 4-H State Archery Competition took place on September 21, 2019 at Pekin Archers, Inc. in Pekin IL.  Four Mason County youth competed in damp, rainy conditions. The 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. 

Brothers, Ben and Isaac Snider, and Alexandria Riviere represented Mason County in the Recurve Archery competition.  The 2019 State 4-H Archery Shoot picked up right where the 2018 contest left off, with Mason County brothers Ben and Isaac Snider battling shot for shot against one another while taking a commanding lead early in the contest in the recurve archery division. Ben would end the day capturing his second consecutive recurve championship. Isaac claimed second place, finishing 276 points ahead of the third-place finisher. Isaac hit 11 bullseyes to Ben’s eight. This was Alexandria’s first attempt at a State Archery competition. She placed in the Top Ten capturing sixth place.  The three overall scores were combined to earn Mason County the Illinois 4-H Top Recurve Archery Team Award.

Madison Hofreiter, Mason County’s only compound archery competitor, ranked 13 overall in the middle of the pack of 26 youth. Madison improved her score and rank from the 2018 competition. The Peoria county compound archery team claimed the Illinois 4-H Top Compound Archery Team Award.

The Mason County 4-H Archery team members were instructed and coached by Jennifer Dye and Ted Snider with assistant Stevan Hofreiter.

It doesn’t end there for the Snider brothers, and their father, Ted.   Ted has been a Mason County 4-H Shooting Sports archery instructor since 2016. This is the third trip to the 4-H state archery competition for the family.  The boys’ rank of first and second place at the 2018 state recurve archery competition qualified them for the 2019 National Shooting Sports Competition, however, they made a decision to not attend. They set goals and planned to practice for another year with high hopes of coming back stronger at the 2019 state competition and qualifying for the highly competitive national competition once again.

The boys accomplished their goals and have officially accepted their invitation to the 4-H National Shooting Sports Competition.

Their father, Ted Snider, was offered and has officially accepted the honorable position to be the Illinois 4-H Recurve Archery Coach.  Along with his sons Ben, and Isaac, Ted will be coaching two youth from McHenry County to the National 4-H Shooting Sports Competition.

Rifle & Pistol- October 12 & 13, 2019, brought the final 4-H State Shooting Sports competition.  Mason Gaines of Havana, was the only Mason County competitor at the state rifle competition held at the indoor shooting range at Central Illinois Precision Shooters range in Bloomington, IL. Mason competed along with 29 other 4-H members in the rifle competition. The smallbore .22 caliber division of the contest tests the participants’ ability to shoot from three positions, lying prone, kneeling or sitting, and standing. In addition, participants shoot from different distances, either 25 or 50 feet. For some rounds, the youth must take all five shots within a 25-second time limit; other rounds allow up to 15 minutes to complete the set of shots. The Mason County 4-H Rifle/Pistol team is instructed and coached by James Stark, Mandy Stark, Mike Berg, Clarissa Golden-Campbell, Todd Wilcoxen, Mitch Dye, and Patty Howard.

The Mason County 4-H Shooting Sports Club is led by coordinators, Randy Stockham and Jennifer Dye. They can be contacted about making monetary and supply donations to the club, as well as membership and adult shooting sports instructor volunteerism.

 

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4-Hers standing in front of large sign for Brittany Shooting Park
Left to right: Mason Purtle, Jessilyn White, Owen Dye, and Nick Jones. Mason County 4-H Shooting Sports Club competitors at the State 4-H Shotgun Competition held at Brittany Shooting Park in Bunker Hill, IL.

 

 

About 4-H: Illinois 4-H empowers and prepares Illinois youth for success. University of Illinois Extension provides 4-H programs in every county in Illinois, impacting the lives of 200,000 youth each year through sustained learning clubs, groups and short-term programming.

Source: Curt Sinclair, U of I Extension Shooting Sports Specialist

Source: Judy Mae Bingman, Media & Communication Manager, 217-300-211

For more information about 4-H in Mason County, contact Joli Pierson, Mason County 4-H Program Coordinator via email: jkpierso@illinois.edu , phone: (309) 543-3308, University of Illinois Extension Fulton-Mason-Tazewell-Peoria Unit, 127 S. High St. Havana, IL  62644.