Illinois 4-H shooting sports is still in its infancy when compared to states such as Texas and Missouri which have decades of history in the 4-H program. Illinois entered the shooting sports arena in 2009 and sent its first team to national competition in 2015.
Being new didn’t stop the Illinois 4-H shotgun team from winning fourth place in the overall team competition at the National 4-H Shooting Sports Championships held June 24-29 in Grand Island, Neb. The key to their success was consistently placing in the top ten in each element of the contest, said Illinois 4-H Shooting Sports Educator Curt Sinclair. The team won fourth in sporting clays, fourth in trap shooting, and sixth in skeet shooting out of 30 shotgun teams in the contest.
Team members also earned high individual scores, including Thomas Keeshan of Rock Island County, eighth overall; Jacob Dies of Rock Island County, 15th; Drew Baxter of Rock Island County, 16th; and Cole Gordon of Marion County, 38th. Bill Peterson of Rock Island County coached the team.
Twelve other Illinois 4-H members also competed in various shooting disciplines. In air rifle, team members include Shandre Willoughby of McLean County, Hunter Swanson of DeKalb County, Joe Couri of DuPage County, and Marlee Anderson of McHenry County. Kurt Willoughby coached the team. The small bore rifle team members include Jasmine Dotson of McLean County, Sarah Fandel of Woodford County, Gavyn Love of Woodford County, and Marygrace Couri of DuPage County. Dave Randolph coached the team.
Four Illinois members competed in archery. Dominick Trujillo of Macon County and Gavin Coombe of Edgar County competed in the compound bow division. Jeffrey Che of Jackson County and Jamie Anderson of McHenry County competed in the recurve bow division.
The Illinois 4-H Foundation supports the Illinois 4-H shooting sports team competing in national competition.
“4-H shooting sports clubs are founded on the principles of positive youth development,” said Sinclair, “and that means our emphasis is on the youth, first, to ensure they feel welcome in our program. Through shooting sports, we create opportunities for them to grow in leadership, be generous in service, and master skills in the 4-H shooting project.”