HOMEDALE, Idaho - Members from two Grant County 4-H shotgun clubs, along with several parents, traveled across the state line earlier this month to pit their skills against the tough targets of a renowned Northwest sporting clays course.
And by the time the dust of the shattered clays had settled, youthful grins abounded (the kids were smiling, too) and the staff of the Idaho shooting range had gained respect for the quality of young people in Grant County's 4-H shooting program.
Once the shotgun enthusiasts from Canyon Creek Shooters (led by County Court Judge Dennis Reynolds) and Prairie City Shotguns (led by Mark Bagett) arrived Feb. 5 at the Homedale-based Hyer and Sons Sporting Clays facility and had donned their eye and ear protection, they began tackling tough target presentations like true pairs of loopers, chandelles, fast crossers and high incomers.
One that gained particular favor was a blinding fast rabbit target (a clay thrown on its edge, rolling along the ground) launched sharply downhill that often would hit a twig or pebble and unexpectedly bound 15 feet into the air.
After shooting more than 100 varying target presentations at 10 stations within the 15-acre course (much like golf), the group was treated to lunch back at the clubhouse.
"That's when our youngsters were paid one of the nicest compliments they could have gotten," said Prairie City Shotguns coach Mark Bagett. "Both the range owner Dolly Hyer and range master Don Mavey told me that ours was one of the most conscientious and pleasant groups of young people they had ever been around.
"That tells me that our 4-H shooting program is working; in our clubs, we do teach sound fundamentals and technique, but these are secondary to safety, respect and sportsmanship."
Since 1999, the number of Grant County 4-H shooters has grown to more than 40 participants in the shotgun discipline alone.
Local shooters in Idaho were Mark Bagett, Levi Voigt, Logan Bagett, Kenny Clingman, Dennis Reynolds, Ed Petersen, Ken Olson, Shannon Voigt, Laurien Mavey, Mike Mavey, Jake Reynolds, Collin Petersen and Mark Olson.