The 2020 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships won’t be held as expected this month due to COVID-19, but that doesn’t diminish the accomplishments of four shooters from South Carolina who earned the opportunity to be there.
Tatelyn Benton, Gabe Boggs and Garrett Hammond of Rocky Knollers 4-H Shotgun Team and Will Hood of Richland Creek Top Guns were selected based on shooting ability, leadership qualities and embodiment of the spirit of 4-H to represent their home state at the event, which was slated for June 21-26 in Grand Island, Neb.
“While all four of these young people have been members of 4-H Shooting Sports for multiple years, because new shooters are chosen to represent the state each year, none of them have had the opportunity to compete in this event,” said Clemson Extension 4-H Natural Resource specialist and S.C. 4-H Shooting Sports coordinator Richard Willey. “Unfortunately, the National 4-H Championships had to be cancelled due to COVID. However, we are still very proud of these four youth and their achievements in 4-H Shooting Sports. Congratulations to them for their hard work.”
Benton, a senior from Edgefield, started shooting in 2016 and has been part of 4-H Shooting Sports for three years. In previous state events, Benton shot 95 in skeet, 87 in sporting clays and 90 in trap. Her dedication to the program allowed her to receive multiple awards through the years including multiple high overall awards, 2020 S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) female trap champion, 2020 SCDNR female skeet 2nd runner up, 2019 Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) female cumulative state champion runner-up and 2019 South Carolina Youth Shooting Foundation (SCYSF) HeyBo female All-State team representative.
“Shooting sports has allowed her to come out of her comfort zone and has created an extended family and support system,” Willey said. “For Tatelyn, winning isn’t everything. She is more concerned with having fun, being happy and helping out her teammates. Her hard work and discipline allowed her to quickly rise as one of the top female shooters in the state.”
Boggs, a senior from Central, has been a part of 4-H and Shooting Sports for five years. He scored 97 in skeet, 85 in trap and 84 in sporting clays at state events. Shooting with 4-H, Gabe has received two high overall awards, has been the winner or runner up in all state events the last four years and garnered numerous awards through National Sporting Clays Association (NSCA). He was the president of his 4-H club for two years, and his shooting helped him receive a sponsorship with Promatic.
“In addition to the enjoyment of shooting, Gabe sees shooting sports as a way for youth to escape the negative experiences they may face,” Willey said. “His commitment and willingness to learn has helped him become a successful shooter.”
Hammond, a senior from Edgefield, has been a member of 4-H for seven years and part of the Shooting Sports Program for six years. Being an avid hunter and outdoorsman, shooting sports provided him an avenue to competitively follow that passion. His highest state event scores include 91 in skeet, 83 in sporting clays and 89 in trap. Throughout his years in shooting sports, Hammond has helped his team receive numerous awards and has also received a number of individual awards to include winning high overall shooter four times.
“In addition to shooting sports, Garrett has also been part of the Pullet Chain Project, where he received a blue ribbon for all of his pullets. 4-H has provided a lasting impact on his life, and he sees shooting sports as a way for youth to participate in sports when they may not be able to otherwise,” Willey said.
Hood, a senior from Johnston, has been a member of the 4-H Shooting Sports Program for the past six years. Within state events, he has shot 93 in skeet, 88 in sporting clays and 89 in trap. Hood’s passion and hard work have allowed him to win numerous high overall awards, 2019 Southeast Regionals C Class 2nd Place 5 Stand, 2019 Southeast Regionals C Class 1st Place Main event, 2019 SCYSF HeyBo All State award and 2019/20 4-H Super Sporting highest overall. In addition to 4-H, Hood is also a member of FFA.
“Will has found that the shooting sports program has allowed him to learn the importance of teamwork, determination, responsibility and self-discipline,” Willey said. “He has worked just as hard helping teach his younger teammates as he has with improving his own shooting.”
Each year, 4-H teaches shooting sports to about 500,000 boys and girls through local Shooting Sports clubs, which are open to all youth ages 8 to 18 and aim to teach firearm safety, help them improve their marksmanship and to enjoy outdoor activities. The program encompasses the initiative goals of volunteer leadership, capacity-building for youth and families, and environmental stewardship with commitments from the land-grant universities such as Clemson.
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