4-H competitors face the wind during the shooting competition
Temperatures quickly climbed into the 90s early Saturday.
But that wasn’t the challenge facing the competitors in the Cole Count 4-H Shooting Match.
It was the wind.
The wind was blowing steadily at around 17 mph and occasionally gusty.
Patricia and Keith Nilges closely watched their 15-year-old daughter, Ava, shoot, aim and throw arrows at targets.
Ava said she wasn’t shooting very well that morning. She was modest, said Patricia Nilges. The crosswind at the distance where Ava and other competitors shot was disruptive.
Organizers hold the annual competition at the United Sportsmen’s Club, 4000 Osman Lane, where several areas are set up for shooting, and large field berms separate them for safety.
At another shooting range, where some younger competitors were shooting arrows, the berms block the wind, she pointed out.
Patricia Nilges said Ava is highly ranked.
“She’s been on the 4-H team for three years,” she said.
Cole County Extension summer intern Eleanor Bax of Jefferson City said the game featured youngsters competing in archery, air rifles, air pistols, shotguns small caliber, small caliber pistols, shotguns and muzzleloaders.
Students from across Cole County joined the contest, which is considered a “pre-fair” event, for the Cole County Fair. Competitors receive ribbons and awards and are recognized as fair winners.
Students also came from other counties, such as Miller and Pulaski. Students often come from multiple counties because they need to qualify for state fair tournaments by competing in county tournaments, Bax said.
Classes are divided by age groups, she says. Junior competitors are children between the ages of 8 and 10, intermediate competitors are between 11 and 13 years old, and senior competitors are between 14 and 18 years old.
Bax said she was a regular competitor during matches, but aged several years ago.
She shot a .22 caliber (small bore) rifle for a few years. She switched to the air gun. When she was old enough, she switched to the .22 caliber (small bore) pistol for about three years before she grew old and left for college.
During matches, students typically complete two practice rounds and then begin shooting “scored rounds” at targets. For example, air pistol competitors would shoot five times at each of eight targets. Or the archers would compete in 12 rounds scored, each with five arrows.
Nine-year-old Waylon Rollins said he started archery this year and felt he was pretty good at it. His mother, Kylie Rollins, said archery was still new to Waylon – that he was usually involved in team sports, such as baseball.
“It’s a little different,” she said. “He’s pretty good at baseball.”
She said – archery being new to Waylon – he is careful not to compare his performances in each of the sports.
Jeff Holtmeyer, of Saint Anthony, had two sons who competed in small-bore rifle — Riley, 11, and Grant, 14.
“They did… decent,” Holtmeyer said. “I’ve seen them do better, but I’ve seen them do worse.”
Grant has been involved in filming for about four years, and Riley for about three years.
“I think it’s fun. I like doing it,” Riley said. “I’m pretty good lying down. This year, since I just started kneeling and standing…I’m not that good at it.”
Grant explained that competitors 10 and under shoot from a prone position.
“When you hit 11, you have to do it on your stomach, kneeling, and standing up,” he said. “We fire 13 rounds per target.”
Riley said he shot pretty well from a kneeling position on Saturday.
“But,” he continued, “today just wasn’t my day to stand or lie.”