Louisiana 4-H Shooting Sports team took home the top prize at the 2019 National Shooting Sports Championships in Grand Island, Nebraska, held June 23-28.
The event attracted 600 youth from 36 states. The 4-H’ers, ages 14- to 18-years old, competed in 27 events in nine discipline team and individual areas including: compound archery, recurve archery, air rifle, air pistol, .22 rifle, .22 pistol, shotgun, muzzleloading and hunting skills.
Louisiana teams placed first in the overall categories for air pistol, air rifle, archery recurve and smallbore rifle.
Team members included:
Air Pistol Team: Hunter Simons, Winn Parish; Nickolas Guarneri, and Sam Perise, Tangipahoa Parish; and Austin Stevenson, Winn Parish.
Air Rifle Team: Austin Martin, St. James Parish; Yumi Domangue and Calvin Domangue, St. James Parish; and Samuel Parker, Franklin Parish.
Archery Recurve Team: A.J. Ward, Lincoln Parish; Cade Jenkins and Clara Anderson Grant Parish; Grace Oliver, Jackson Parish.
Smallbore Rifle Team: Erin Wilkinson, LaSalle Parish; Anna Clair Nadler, Ouachita Parish; Coralie Deloach, Avoyelles Parish; Noah Edmonds, Natchitoches Parish.
Top individuals were: air pistol slowfire, Hunter Simons, Winn Parish; air rifle silhouettes, Austin Martin, St. James Parish; archery recurve field, FIFTA, 3D and overall, A. J. Ward, Lincoln Parish; shotgun overall, Kal Wilson, Terrebonne Parish; and smallbore rifle silhouettes and overall, Erin Wilkinson, LaSalle Parish.
David Boldt, LSU AgCenter 4-H shooting sports coach, said his team trained for months to prepare for the fierce contest.
“It’s a mental grind because the event is four days long,” Boldt said. “It takes a lot of discipline and determination to compete and be successful at this level. Our competitors put in a lot of effort before they even got to Nebraska.”
The team brought 36 4-H’ers and nine volunteers to the event hosted by Nebraska 4-H and the University of Nebraska. Boldt said 4-H volunteers dedicated their time and knowledge in order to ensure the students were surrounded by positive energy and were shooting with a steady support system.
“Volunteers donate a lot of time to connect with the students,” Boldt said. “There are people who may have given up an entire work week and others who don’t even have children participating but truly value kids learning how to handle firearms in a safe environment.”
The assistant coaches receive training in order to be responsible for the kids and provide them with proper techniques and skills.
Boldt said the victory was bittersweet because many of the students are seniors and won’t return to compete next years. “Everything clicked this year,” he said.
The shooting sports program has grown in popularity among Louisiana 4-H’ers, and Boldt said safety is the No. 1 priority of the program.
About 2,500 people attended the event.