4-H shooting program encourages development among youth

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Pearl River County’s 4-H Club provides young people with the opportunity to participate in a number of activities one of which is a sports shooting program.

The program is offered by Mississippi State University through the Extension Service.

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In the 4-H Shooting Sports program, youth engage in various firearm safety training and shooting sports activities to help in their development, Pearl River County Extension Agent Alex Shook said.

The Shooting Sports program is available for children aged 8 to 18 and covers a variety of disciplines including archery, shotgun, air rifle, air pistol, .22 rifle, .22 pistol and muzzleloader, Shook said.

For 10 consecutive years, youth from Pearl River County have represented the state at the 4-H Shooting Sports competition, he said.

“That’s a big deal. A lot of counties do not have kids that shoot well enough to make it to the state team,” he said.

Shook said the goal of the program is to introduce the participants to operate firearms in a safe, controlled, fun and competitive environment.

The program has received support from local and national organizations to carry out its operations.

Grants received from the Friends of the National Rifle Association helped purchase equipment required to conduct the program, Shook said. The Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department provides access to a shooting range so the children can practice, he said.

The program takes place from January to July each year, Shook said. In order to compete in the district 4-H competition, participants are required to complete eight hours of supervised training under 4-H certified instructors and shoot a qualifying score at the multi county shoot held in the spring. Qualifying 14-18 year old competitors are then eligible for the nationals, he said.

This year about 400 youth from 21 counties across the state participated in the shooting program of which 136 were from Pearl River County, Shook said. Of those participants, 34 qualified and participated in the district shoot and seven competed at the state level.