mary kathryn carpenter | The Natchez Democrat Emily Hootsell practices her archery at the Adams County Extension Service Friday afternoon. Hootsell qualified for the state 4-H shooting sports contest. At top, Hunter Taylor shoots a 5-meter air rifle at a target at the extension service Friday afternoon. Hunter placed first in his age group for the district five-meter air rifle competition in his age group.
mary kathryn carpenter | The Natchez Democrat
Emily Hootsell practices her archery at the Adams County Extension Service Friday afternoon. Hootsell qualified for the state 4-H shooting sports contest. At top, Hunter Taylor shoots a 5-meter air rifle at a target at the extension service Friday afternoon. Hunter placed first in his age group for the district five-meter air rifle competition in his age group.

Adams County 4-H shooting club sends two members to state event

Published 12:02am Sunday, June 1, 2014

NATCHEZ — Members of the Adams County 4-H youth shooting sports club are aiming for the national tournament as they prepare to hit the bullseye at the state contest in July.

But shooters like Emily Hootsell and Natalie Russell have some obstacles to overcome before the big tournament.

The 4-H Club had already gotten off to a late start with only having three months of training before the district contest in Pearl April 26.

In that time period, each shooter had to gain eight hours of training and instruction in each respective discipline, or weapon category.

So for some shooters who wanted to compete in the .22 air rifle, compound archery and air pistol contest, they had to gain 24 hours of lessons overall.

“When we first start practice, we do all the different disciplines and then they pick which discipline they like and decide which one they want to focus on going into district,” Adams County 4-H club coordinator Regina Hootsell said. “You can choose up to three, but most kids chose one or two because of how much training it will take.”

What that meant was spending extra time outside of the Saturdays they practiced to qualify to shoot their weapons.

Despite learning a lot in a short amount of time, Emily and Russell found out they still have a lot of learning to do.

Though several other shooters did well in the district tournament, only those ages 14 and up qualify for state.

Emily will head to state after placing third in the standard compound archery contest. Russell qualified for the 10-meter air pistol contest.

For Emily, the difference going into district was the distance of the targets from 9 meters to 18 meters, but that would be far from her only concern going into state.

“I’m excited and nervous because at state there is a field round with targets ranging from 5 yards to 80 yards (instead of the one distance),” Emily said. “There will be all kind of animal shooting targets like deer and cows that we get to shoot.

“I got a new sight on my bow and it has more pins set for the different distances, so I will have to practice with targets at different distances at home.”

Russell’s concern is one small rule that changes everything — having to hold the pistol with one hand instead of two.

“For the pistol, I have a choice to shoot two handed or one handed,” Russell said. “But now in state, you can only shoot one handed, and that’s a really big adjustment for me. Shooting one-handed changes everything. I have to readjust my sighting, my posture and form just to be able to do that.”

Along with making some major adjustments, Russell is aware that practice make perfect, and she had to be close to perfect to qualify for nationals.

“It’s going to take tremendous practice, but I have the mindset that if I’m going to make it to nationals, I have to shoot well,” Russell said. “I can’t miss the target once. It’s going to take a lot of hard work.”

Other 4-H club members who did well in district were: Cody Reid who placed third in the .22 rifle, Griffin Hootsell placed first in the 5-meter air rifle, Fletcher Mims was fifth in the standard compound archery, Hunter Taylor was first in the 5-meter air rifle and the 10-meter air rifle. Hannah Russell was fourth in the standard compound rifle and first in the 5-meter air rifle Kathyrn Freeman was first in the 10-meter air pistol and the 10-meter air rifle, and Allison Freeman placed first in the 10-meter air rifle and second in the 10-meter air pistol.