Oregon 4-H’ers finish in top 20 at national shooting sports championships

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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. – For the first time in two years, Oregon State University Extension 4-H’ers competed in the 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships.

They were met on the first day of competition with blustery winds, thunderstorms and lightning.

“There is nothing quite as amazing as a lightning and thunderstorm in the heartland. One moment the sky is clear, then you look up again and see a big wall of angry,” said David White, who recently retired as state 4-H specialist for outdoor and recreation and coordinator of the 4-H Shooting Sports program in Oregon. White was also completing his second term on the National 4-H Shooting Sports Committee.

The focus of all 4-H programs is the development of youth as individuals and as responsible and productive citizens. In the Oregon 4-H Shooting Sports Program, youth explore interests and passions, develop positive relationships with caring adults, learn to safely and responsibly use firearms and archery equipment, and more.

Oregon 4-H sent a delegation of 12 competitors and four coaches to Nebraska, which hosted the championships in June at the Heartland Public Shooting Park, about a two-hour drive from Omaha.

The Oregon team competed in compound archery, hunting and outdoor skills, shotgun, and small-bore rifle. In the overall team standings, Oregon finished 16th in compound archery, 16th in small-bore rifle and 18th in shotgun.

The Oregon compound archery team of Reece King (50th), Garrett Marshall (60th), Seth Sheely (66th), and Rhyan Turner (69th) all finished in the top 70. They were coached by Mark King. On the second day, archers in the field round had competitors using umbrellas to block the wind from the shooting line.

As in archery, wind was also a challenge for the small-bore rifle and shotgun teams over the first two days.

“Coach James Fritz kept them focused on the silhouettes that seem so far down range the metal targets looked like dots on the horizon,” White said. “I had a chance to walk the sport clays course, and clays were coming from all directions and were immediately tossed around by the wind.”

In the final small bore rifle individual results. Rachel Biscoe finished 43rd, Roman Fritz finished 44th and Jacoy Don came in 56th.

In the final shotgun individual results, Seth Colton finished 61st, Logan Lee finished 69th, James Lange was 73rd and Carson King was 87th. They were coached by Kevin Tollefson.

Kellen Gronquist, the only Oregon competitor in the hunting skills competition, finished 23rd. He was 44th after the first and second days in which he competed in general hunting skills, map reading/compass, and shotgun, then shot up in the standings on the final day with his combined hunting decision-making and smallbore hunting scores. He was coached by Kelly Gronquist.

“It’s tough when you are the lone representative in a discipline,” White said. “Yet, Kellen quietly persevered as most hunters do in the pursuit of game.”

Each of the competitors qualified for the national championships through their scores at the 2019 Oregon 4-H Shooting Sports State Contest, in which hundreds of youths compete each year. After the 2021 national championships were over, White said he had a chance to reflect on the event with Jon Gandy, Jefferson County 4-H coordinator, who attended the championships as the OSU Extension 4-H state representative.

“We recognized each competitor arrived as an individual,” White said. “They reached the national championships based on solo efforts. They left Grand Island with a unique, common bond shared only by their predecessors. For some, this was their last 4-H experience before going on with their adult lives.

“We might see some of this team return to Grand Island in 2022. Needless to say, Jon and I remain proud to be associated with such fine representatives of the Oregon 4-H Shooting Sports Program,” he said.

White is the author of the OSU Extension publication, “4-H Shooting Sports Advancement Guide,” and several 4-H Shooting Sports articles and national publications.

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