The first ever Western Heritage shooting sports competition was held in conjunction with the annual 4-H County Fair Shoot at the Eckert range in July.
The 4-H Shooting Sports Council initiated the new event this year.
Four contestants and four adult volunteer range safety officers donned attire of America's Old West era and participated in a re-enactment of the nation's heritage.
The youth shooters were Mycala Read, Austin Germann, Conner George and Ryan Gibson.
The 4-H'ers represented some character from the Old West in which they had an individual or particular interest for the event. There is an academic learning aspect to the activity as they did research on their character and the period of the Old West in which they lived. The 4-H'ers gave oral presentations on what they had learned about their character to other 4-H'ers and parents following the shooting. The western heritage part of the event lent an air of added interest and enjoyment. But the program's focus on rules and rigorous safety procedures never slackened for one moment.
The shooting competition portion of the event involved loading firearms and shooting at stationary targets in a timed contest of skill.
Shooters working under close individual supervision loaded two .22-caliber revolvers with a total of 10 rounds. They loaded a .22-caliber rifle with the same number of rounds. Then they loaded two rounds into a double barrel shotgun.
One at a time, the contestants fired their rounds at stationary targets, some representing small game animals, that had been placed on the ground on one of the ranges.
Each competitive year culminates in a championship event where 4-H members shoot for the fastest time, take a history exam, and have their clothing knowledge assessed. It's not always the fastest shooter who wins.
The national 4-H organization reports that the discipline of western action shooting is one of the fastest growing sports activities in the world. 4-H explains the details of its new program on its website.
Western Heritage Project combines a comprehensive study of the Old West with the fastest growing shooting sports discipline in the world -- western action shooting. The purpose of this project is to provide an avenue for 4-H members and adult leaders to experience the lifestyles and cultures of the Old West from the period of around 1860-1900 through a living history approach to learning while instilling the concepts of gun safety and personal responsibility. Members dress in Old West clothing, shoot replica firearms of the frontier period, and expand their knowledge of U.S. history.
The project connects today's youth with the values and traditions of our past, while they preserve and gain an appreciation for the Old West.