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4-H members head to state shooting sports contest

Members of Farmington’s The Wild Bunch 4-H Club will tote their guns and archery equipment to Columbia next month to test their marksmanship in the state’s 4-H shooting sports contest.

Julie Scroggins will compete in the .22 rifle division. Dennis Herbst, Luke Baird and Sam Miller will enter the shotgun, and Luke, Jenny Baird, Sam Miller and Dennis will compete in archery Sept. 17 at the Cedar Creek Rod and Gun Club in Columbia.

The club recently participated in the St. Francois County Fair Shooting Competition. Members must complete their shooting sports projects for the year, including 10 hours of instruction in their field and completion of a hunter education course from the Missouri Department of Conservation or a 4-H hunter safety course in order to compete at the state level, said Susan Baird, 4-H shooting sports coordinator for St. Francois County. They also must compete in at least one shooting contest that follows state rules.

Two years ago, there were no 4-H certified shooting sports instructors in the county, which meant that no 4-H member could work on a shooting sports project, Baird said.

“My kids wanted to get into (shooting sports), so my husband and I became certified,” she added. “I am certified in archery and Bruce is certified in rifle and shotgun.”

Baird leads the county’s archery group, and her husband, Bruce, leads the rifle section.

Bruce Baird and Bill Neibecker lead the shotgun group.

To become certified, instructors must attend 21 hours of training to learn about topics such as child development, gun safety, and shooting sports teaching techniques for children. Instructors also have to must pass written tests and complete a practicum to qualify for certification.

The Wild Bunch club is open to all youth ages 8-18. Currently, 4-H members may only choose archery, shotgun or rifle projects, because the county has no one certified in the remaining shooting sports areas: Air pistol, air rifle, muzzle loading, hunter skills and small-bore pistol.

“There is a kind of stigma that 4-H is only for kids with livestock,” Baird said. “A lot of kids aren’t even aware we have shooting sports projects.”

Interested youths may join the club at its first meeting of the 4-H year, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 8, in the lower level of the Farmington Public Library. At the meeting, the club will elect officers, discuss programs and fund raisers and address the upcoming year’s shooting meetings.

Members of the club may compete at the local, state or national level. Only the national level requires “try-outs.”

On the state and local levels, judging follows Danish rules, which means members compete against themselves, not against others. Their projects are judged on quality and are assigned points. Depending on the number of points, each contestant receives a blue, red or white ribbon.

Susan Baird said that the county needs volunteers, and that anyone who is interested in becoming a leader or learning more about The Wild Bunch may call her at 756-2375 or 4-H Youth Specialist Lynna Lawson, at the University of Missouri Extension Office, 756-4539.

The Wild Bunch results for the 2005 St. Francois County Fair 4-H Shooting Sports Competition follows.

In the Archery Division, winners were: Compound with Release – (seniors class) 1st place Sam Miller and (junior) 1st place Luke Baird, 2nd place Katie Zangraft, 3rd place Dennis Herbst, and 4th place Austin Miner; Compound without Release – (juniors) 1st place Katie Zangraft and 2nd place Dennis Herbst; Re-curve Traditional – (senior) 1st Place Sam Miller and 2nd place Jenny Baird and (junior) 1st Place Luke Baird.

Winner in the pellet rifle (peep sights) youth division was 1st Place Nathan Belken.

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