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.

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.

“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 if they have not already attended the national shoot for that discipline, 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 your county, one may find the local Extension office.

State 4-H Shotgun Shoot

Cole Haynes missed only three shots all day to claim the 2019 State 4-H Shotgun Shoot championship, hitting 97 out of 100 targets. The 16-year-old LaSalle County 4-H member jumped to the top from an eighth place finish in 2018 by hitting three more targets than last year.

Second place finisher Dakota Larimore-Lamb of Piatt County improved from his fifth place finish last year. Additional top 10 finishers include Kaden Mott, Rock Island County, third; Logan Hawkins, Grundy County, fourth; Blake Bryant, Rock Island County, fifth; J.B. Bremer, Madison County, sixth; Kyle Spangler, Fulton County, seventh; Derek Sample, Franklin County, eighth; Brayden Will, Effingham County, ninth; and Jerimiah Depew, Shelby County, tenth.

For the second year, Megan Bierman of Effingham County finished 11th. Both years, Megan tied with the competitor and just missed the top ten list after a shoot-off. The top team was from Franklin County. Members include Cameron Kirkpatrick, Zachary Skurat, Derek Sample, and Kolton Inglett.

Seventy-eight members from 23 counties competed in state contest held Sept. 14 at Bunker Hill Shooting Park near Bunker Hill.

State 4-H Archery Shoot

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.

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.

In the compound bow division, Stark County 4-H member Levi Nusz tallied 43 bullseyes and accumulated 847 points out of a possible 885. Levi improved on his second-place finish in 2018.

Top ten finishers in the compound division include Carter Carpenter, Marion County, second; Carson McGill, Iroquois County, third; Brianna Hayes, Peoria County, fourth; Kutter Thompson, Adams County, fifth; Jacob Nusz, Stark County, sixth; Jamin Whipple, Jefferson County, seventh; Isaac Adams, Woodford County, eighth; Celtan McGinnis, Peoria County, ninth; and Alexa Salverson, Peoria County, tenth.

McHenry County 4-H fielded five recurve competitors, with these top finishers: Michael Perkins, third; Corrine Elswick, fourth; Norah Mungle, fifth; Brittney Rhyner, seventh; and Rebecca Perkins, eighth. Alexandria Riviere of Mason County finished sixth and Michelle Wang of Jackson County finished ninth.

Mason County claimed the recurve team award, and Peoria County earned the compound bow team division. The state contest was held Sept. 21 at the Pekin Archers facility near Pekin.

State 4-H Rifle Shoot

Twenty-nine 4-H members competed for top honors at the State 4-H Rifle Shoot held Oct. 12-13 at Central Illinois Precision Shooters in Bloomington.

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.

Hunter Swanson improved over his second-place finish in 2018 to win the state 4-H smallbore rifle shoot with 1,124 total points. The DeKalb County 4-H member edged out the second place finisher by only 23 points during the timed shooting portion of the contest. 

Collin Haney of Woodford County took second place, improving our his fourth place finish last year. Other top finishers include Grace Shepard, Kankakee County, third; Shandre Willoughby, McLean County, fourth; Morgan Drozs, DeWitt County, fifth; Winnie Quiram, McLean County, sixth; Marissa Hughes, McLean County, seventh; Liadan Gray, Winnebago County, eighth; Andrew Wochner, Winebago County, ninth; and Victoria Snook, LaSalle County, tenth.

Nine of the ten top participants in the air rifle division were first-time competitors. Madison County 4-H member Gloria Bremer claimed the championship, followed by Paul Knipmeyer of McLean County in second and Braden May of Johnson County, third.

McHenry County fielded five competitors: Hannah Hedman, fourth; Rebecca Perkins, sixth; Michael Perkins, eighth; Louis Szymanski IV, ninth; and Jackson Swanson, tenth. Additional top ten finishers include J.B. Bremer of Madison County, who improved from tenth in 2018 to fifth in 2019, and Christopher Wood of Kane County in seventh.

State 4-H Air Pistol Shoot

McLean County 4-H member Justin Pierard edged about Collin Haney from Woodford County to win the Illinois 4-H State Air Pistol Contest held Oct. 13 at Central Illinois Precision Shooters in Bloomington. Other top finishers include Brandon Wood, McLean County, third; Morgan Drozs, DeWitt County, fourth; Alexander Ford, Kankakee County, fifth; and Dante Plue, Knox County, sixth.