Matthew McClellan: 4-H shooting sports need volunteers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 13, 2016

With cooler weather upon us and the fair behind us, many of us start to think about all of those fall activities that we so enjoy — football, hunting, holidays.

Did you know that Rowan 4-H has programs that also tie into those things, except football? Rowan County 4-H has an active shooting sports program with youth taking part in rifle, shotgun and pistol disciplines. We hope to expand soon and include archery, as well.

4-H shooting sports is a relatively new program to North Carolina, but is the fastest growing project area we have. 4-H shooting sports can trace its roots back to the 1970s in Texas and has expanded since then to become a national program that even has a national tournament each year in Grand Isle, Neb. Rowan County 4-H was represented this past summer at the national tournament in rifle discipline by Makayla Ryder.

In North Carolina, each county’s 4-H program oversees its own shooting sports program. Youth are instructed by 4-H certified shooting coaches and practices are set up by the clubs. Counties have the opportunities to compete in county, regional and state tournaments each fall. Participants who qualify at the state tournament are able to try out for the North Carolina National 4-H team.

Our program in Rowan County meets on the third Saturday each month at the Rowan County Wildlife Association Range in Salisbury. Our participants practice the disciplines as they will see them at the regional and state tournaments: Shotgun participants shoot trap; rifle and pistol shooters practice at the distances and with the same target arrangements that they will see in competition.

As with all of our 4-H programs, skills like gun safety and marksmanship are directly taught, but decision-making skills, teamwork, sportsmanship and problem-solving skills are the real lessons being taught on the range.

For youth to take part in the Rowan County 4-H Shooting Sports program, they must be at least 9 years old and fill out an enrollment and health form and a code of conduct. The club has some equipment, so you don’t necessarily need your own equipment to start out in the shooting sports program. If you have youth interested in participating in the 4-H shooting sports program, call the 4-H office and discuss how to get involved.

We are also looking for adult leaders in our shooting sports program. You don’t have to be a world class shooter or even a good shooter to volunteer and be a coach. Proof of that is that I am a certified shotgun coach and I’m not winning any competitions any time soon.

To be a volunteer coach, you do have to attend a shooting sports training. The next training is at the end of October at Millstone 4-H center, and you have to fill out the North Carolina 4-H volunteer application and pass a background check to be able to work with the youth.

We are currently in need of archery instructors in particular, but all disciplines could use help. If you would like to volunteer with the 4-H shooting sports program, give me a call at the 4-H office and I can get you registered for the training.

If you have any questions about the 4-H shooting sports program or want to get your youth or yourself involved with us, you can reach me at the Rowan County 4-H office by phone 704-216-8970 or by email