A group of youngsters recently added to Texas County’s run of producing top-notch competitive shooters.
In .22 rifle standard competition at the Missouri 4-H Shooting Sports State Shoot Sept. 19-20 at the Prairie Grove Shotgun Club in Columbia, Texas County’s intermediate division team (ages 11-13) of Kaitlyn Davis (a 14-year-old home-schooler from Eunice who was 13 at the time), Kyle Mills (13, of Houston) and Case Jones (12, of Houston) took third place, behind winner Gasconade County and runner-up Cole County.
Meanwhile, several of the Texas County squad’s .22 shooters placed high in the individual standings. In the senior division (ages 14-18), Willow Springs resident Jacob Collins, 19, placed third in a field of 39 shooters, while Davis finished fifth in a field of 88 intermediate shooters. In the junior division (ages 8-10), 10-year-old Ty Smith, of Hartville, took second in a field of 56 and Cabool resident Cadence Wade, 9, finished fifth.
Smith also won the state championship in aperture air rifle.
Collins also took fifth individually in senior .22 rifle aperture competition. Jarrett Ely, Travis Hutson, Cooper Mills and Tristan Weaver also shot for Texas County.
Senior and intermediate shooters fire from standing, kneeling and prone (lying down) positions, while juniors only shoot prone.
Coaching the team were veteran shooting instructor Charles Dyer, along with John Williams and Dwaine Gabriel.
Dyer began competitive shooting as an Army soldier in the mid 1970s, and improved to the point where he became a coach for top-notch Army teams at several installations.
“The main thing I tell these kids is to avoid bad habits and I incorrect skills,” he said. “Shooting is about 90-percent mental, and you have to be able to focus. You can’t let your emotions get away from you – a bad shot can’t be brought back.”
Texas County 4-H teams have for several years made a habit of posting good results at state shoots, which sometimes comes down to repetition.
“Unlike a lot of clubs, we practice once a week from the beginning of the season until state,” Dyer said. “The minimum requirement is 10, and a lot of clubs don’t do any more than that. We’re considerably above that number.”
SHOTGUN TEAM SHINES AT STATE
The Texas County 4-H Shooting Sports shotgun team took fourth place in the trap-shooting state shoot, Aug. 22 at Linn Creek.
Team members included Hutson, Quinton Coble, Charles Ford, Dalton Grider and James Scott.
In the individual standings, Brooks took first in Intermediate Double Shotgun, while Hutson finished sixth in Senior Double Trap and Senior Single Trap.
Also representing Texas County at the shotgun competition were Pierce Ford, Zachary Russell and Cooper Mills.
Hutson is trying out for a state team that will compete in Nebraska.
Texas County’s shotgun squad is coached by Bob Jones and Dick York.
Contact regional youth development specialist Janice Emery at the University of Missouri Extension office in Houston at 417-967-4545.