4-H club hits bull's-eye in teaching shooting, archery safety

Westminster-based club takes aim at teaching shotting skills

  • Nine-year old Gavin Rouse of Taneytown already has a keen eye for trap shooting as he fires on another clay bird at the Mayberry Game Protection Association range during a Oct. 2 fundraiser for the Hot Shots 4-H club. Standing by with some pointers is Hot Shots leader Ed Stevens. Shooters from around the region gathered at Mayberry to shoot and raise funds for the 4-H club members to go to competitions.
Nine-year old Gavin Rouse of Taneytown already has a keen eye… (Photo by Phil Grout )
October 17, 2011|By Katie V. Jones

In her first year as a member of the Hot Shots 4-H club, Ilana Rouse, 8, has shot a shot gun, an air rifle, and a .22-caliber rifle.

But she hasn't fired a muzzle loader, at least not yet. The reason is simple.

"I think it is very loud," Ilana said.

With more than 60 members — and a waiting list — the Carroll County 4-H Hot Shots chapter offers its youth members all the traditional projects associated with 4-H, from livestock to gardening to baking.

But it also has a special focus: shooting. The 4-H chapter teaches about archery and firearms safety, as well hunter responsibility, wildlife identification and orienteering.

Technically, "4-H clubs can't have waiting lists," said Ed Stevens, organization leader of the club.

But the Hot Shots needed an exception to that rule because, to put it simply, "I don't have enough range space for 90 kids," he said.

The club owns several weapons, including 10 muzzle loaders, eight .22 rifles, four 12-gauge shotguns and seven 20-gauge youth rifles.

When practicing at the range, members are allowed to bring their own weapons, but the club doles out the ammunition.

"(Members) don't need a license, as long as they're on the range under my direction," said Stevens, who had to become certified by the state to become an instructor.

Grants from the National Rifle Association helped with the purchase of most of the firearms.

To provide the ammunition, the club has dues and hosts fundraisers throughout the year.

In addition to a basket bingo, the club hosts two sporting clay shoots — one in the spring, one in the fall — at the Mayberry Game Protection Association.

This year's fall shoot took place on the first Sunday in October, a cold, wet day.

"We can't control the weather," said Rick Hess, a member of the Board of Directors for the Mayberry association. "People hunt in all weather. We decided if the weather is bad, we're going to have it anyhow."

Despite the weather, 47 shooters paid $25 to participate, raising $958 for the club.

"It went very well," Hess said of the event. "We had seven or eight members help. The 4-H club provided most of the help. They do a very good job of following up and helping."

Some of the funds raised are also used to help send members to various state and national events. Members of the club attended the 4H State Archery Competition in Dorchester County last week and some will also take part in the 4-H state shotgun competition Oct. 29, in Greenbelt.

Travis Gesell, 17, traveled to a national archery event in Texas this past summer, where he captured third place in the nation in the senior division.

"Practice, practice, practice," Gesell said of the key to his success. "Keep to it and practice."

Though his own children will soon age out of 4-H — members must between the ages of 8 and 18 — Stevens has no plan to leave his post as leader of the Hot Shots.

"I have no intention of getting out of this," Stevens said. "I really like working with the kids. The (4-H) program is absolutely wonderful. It's great for kids. They're learning skills they can use later in life."

Hess, whose granddaughter is Ilana, sees the Hot Shots 4-H club as an important resource for teaching firearms and archery safety.

"This is a wonderful group as far as teaching safety in shooting," Hess said. "They do a good job. Everyone gets a lot of help, like a team effort."

For more information about the 4-H Hot Shots, go to http://www.4hhotshots.org.

NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the president of the Mayberry Game Protection Association. The president is Tim Headley.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.