4-H promotes trap shooting
When people think of 4-H Club, they probably think of activities like hog raising and chicken exhibiting. What might not come to mind so readily, however, is trap shooting.
The Freedom Hills 4-H Gun Club is open to all youth ages 9-18 in Colbert and Franklin counties. The club began in September 2015 with monthly meetings held at Cedar Hill Trap Range in Russellville under the leadership of Wade Willingham, a certified 4-H shotgun coach and owner of Cedar Hill Trap Range; Leslie Moore Goins, 4-H Foundation Regional Extension Agent for Colbert and Franklin Counties; and Bruce Daily, certified 4-H shotgun coach.
“Every month starting in September, the club met on a Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., where youth living in both Colbert and Franklin counties were given the opportunity to experience and further their skills in trap shooting, firearm handling and safety under the advisement of professional and certified adult instructors,” Goins said. “Out of approximately 30 youth who attended the club meetings, five youth were given the opportunity to represent Franklin and Colbert County 4-H at the 2016 State 4-H Shotgun Championship in Childersburg April 8 and 9.”
The five youth comprising the Freedom Hills 4-H Gun Club team for this year’s state meet were Kolton Robinson (Colbert County), Peyton Flannigan (Colbert County), Cameron Burks (Franklin County), Blake Daily (Franklin County) and Jackson Mitchell (Franklin County). The five-member team started meeting multiple times a month starting in February of this year to get better prepared for the upcoming competition.
They met at Double Head Resort to practice sporting clays, Muscle Shoals Skeet and Trap Range in Florence to practice skeet shooting and multiple meetings at Cedar Hill Trap Range to practice trap shooting. These boys, Goins said, represented Franklin County and Colbert County 4-H programs with “exceptional discipline and leadership.” The team placed third overall in trap shooting, exceeding all expectations of a young “green” team, and more importantly, carried themselves as “true leaders and gentlemen on the range.”
“It has been a great honor serving as their 4-H agent and getting to work with Wade Willingham, who is an exceptional coach and mentor to our youth,” Goins said. “Next year both counties aim to take more youth to the state competition to represent Colbert and Franklin counties.
“By providing our youth with opportunities to explore new interests and sporting activities through fun and exciting research-based programs that are not traditionally offered by other youth development programs, 4-H can provide our community’s youth with vital life skills involving leadership, discipline, responsibility and many others,” Goins added. “These vital life skills are ever more important in giving our youth tools they need to become leaders in today’s society. Colbert and Franklin County 4-H looks to broaden its shooting sports programs in the upcoming years to include archery and hunting skills.
Alabama 4-H’s shooting sports programs fall into Project S.A.F.E. (Shooting Awareness, Fun and Education) – an “active program, attractive to youth and adult audiences,” according to program literature. “The program is curriculum-based and designed to assist young people in personal development, establish a personal environmental ethic and explore lifelong vocational and avocational activities. The program uses experiential learning and positive interactions with youth and adult role models to help young people develop self-concept, self-assurance and a positive self-image.”
Goins said. Project S.A.F.E. promotes responsibility, decision-making and identifying realistic, personal goals. Participants may elect to compete at a level appropriate for their abilities or pursue other objectives.
Project S.A.F.E. objectives are:
- · To enhance youth development of self-concept, character and personal growth through safe, educational and socially acceptable involvement in shooting activities.
- · To involve youth in a life skills program that teaches safe and responsible use of firearms including sound decision-making, self-discipline and concentration.
- · To promote the highest standards of safety, sportsmanship and ethical behavior.
- · To expose participants to the broad array of vocational and life-long avocation activities related to shooting sports.
- · To strengthen families through participation in life-long recreational activities.
- · To complement and enhance the impact of existing safety, shooting and hunter education programs using experiential (hands on) educational methods and progressive development of skills and abilities.