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Honesty, character, patience and focus are all things taught by Oldham County 4-H Shooting Sports.
A program established in 1988, 4-H Shooting Sports lets children from the age of 9 to 18 learn to shoot, aim and care for a number of different firearms. Entirely taught by volunteers in the Oldham County area, kids have the opportunity to take their popular Kentucky interest and learn how to use it properly.
Back in 1988, Oldham County 4-H shooting sports had humble beginnings starting with two to three dozen kids and their families. The 4-H members wanted to teach youth about gun safety and how to correctly handle many different firearms.
“Shooting is very important in Kentucky and it was a matter of time before someone taught kids how to do it the right way,” said coordinator and rifle coach Ken O’Barr.
The Oldham County branch now has more than 2,000 active members and are not only teaching but winning at district and state competitions.
There are three different age divisions for kids to compete in: 9-11, 12-14 and 15-18 and a range of categories to compete in includeing: shotgun (12- and 20-gauge) rifle (.22 caliber bolt action, air, and BB) pistol (air and .22 caliber) archery (compound bare and recurve, bow hunter and target) and muzzleloader (pistol and rifle)
“It’s competitive but fun, the coaches and volunteers encourage the kids to compete but their main focus is for the kids to do their best,” said parent and volunteer Paul Harjes.
Dalton, Harjes’ daughter, competes for Oldham County 4-H shooting sports and is currently in her third year with the program.
“I have fun and make a lot of friends through shooting sports,” Dalton said. “Many kids at my school are surprised that I do it and think it’s pretty cool.”
The children meet once a week from April to September to learn about gun safety, leadership and responsibility in a informal environment. They are taught by six trained coaches, while parent volunteers are also welcome to help. There is an annual $10 equipment fee.
The 4-H shooting sports programs have successfully taught thousands of kids in Kentucky the correct way of maintaining and shooting firearms for 24 years. The popular sport in Kentucky can now be started at a young age, providing safe quality fun for many years to come.
Story by Billy Rutledge
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