Georgia Magazine - April 2017 - 25
Sydney Cook, a .22-caliber Rimfire Sporter
competitor from Bartow County, shoots at
the 2016 nationals in Nebraska.
Bobby Stinchcomb, head coach for the
Paulding County 4-H shotgun team, advises
Megan Harper as she shoots sporting clays.
Island, Neb., in 2014 and won first
place, setting a national record. He
was the first to shoot a 600, a perfect score.
After high school, Payne wants
to attend Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Ala., and join the
shooting team. "And then, go to the
Olympics," he adds.
Three teams from Bartow County
have been to the nationals in Nebraska, so Payne is not the only talented shooter in Bartow County 4-H.
One of Payne's teammates,
15-year-old Emily Lovett, of Cartersville, is a good shot, too. She and
Payne both attended the Rimfire
Sporter nationals in 2015. She has
competed in BB and Sporter Air Rifle
as well, but she likes the Precision
Air Rifle the best. (Precision Air Rifle
uses a different kind of rifle than
Sporter Air Rifle.)
"Shooting takes a lot of focus,"
she says. "You need to learn to block
things out when you are shooting.
You have to stay focused, because
you don't want to mess up."
In January, Lovett, who has
been shooting for five years, shot
her best score in Precision Air Rifle
for three positions (prone/lying on
your belly, standing and kneeling)
at a competition in Griffin. She also
wants to shoot on a team in college
and hopes to attend the University of
Mississippi in Oxford, Miss.
The third team member at the
practice is Sydney Cook, 15, of Fair-
mount. Cook went to the nationals
in 2016 for .22 but is focusing on
perfecting her air rifle skills now.
She has learned that successful
shooting takes a lot of practice.
"You have to know to keep
working at it, and eventually you'll
get those results," she says.
On a cloudy Sunday afternoon
in late January, a couple dozen
4-H shotgunners from Douglas and
Paulding counties met at a trap and
skeet range near Douglasville to
Bobby Stinchcomb, the veteran
head coach for the Paulding County
4-H shotgun team, explains the different shotgun games or disciplines.
All involve clay targets in motion.
Skeet is played on a half-moon field,
he says, with clays launched from
inside shed-sized buildings, one on
each side of the field. The shooter
must shoot from eight locations
across the field.
In 16-yard trap, the target is
launched from a low concrete block
building, or bunker, in the middle
of the field. The launching machine
oscillates from left to right across
the field. Competitors shoot from
five different positions behind the
bunker and can see the target only
after it emerges from the bunker.
Sporting clays is the most difficult contest, as the targets can be
launched from any angle into the
air or even along the ground as a
bouncing or rolling target.
More online at www.georgiamagazine.org
It takes practice and skill to
become a good shot and a lot of
work to become a champion.
Austin Taylor, of Lithia Springs,
is a three-time state winner in 4-H
shotgun competitions. Before he
graduated from high school, Taylor, who shot with Douglas County
4-H, achieved the highest combined
scores for skeet and trap shooting in
2011, 2012 and 2014 and came
in second in 2013. He recently became certified as a shooting coach.
Taylor says teamwork is an important component of Project S.A.F.E.
In shooting competitions, he says,
"it's about what we can do together."
Another Paulding County shotgun coach at the practice is Terry
Harper, of Dallas, whose 16-year-old
daughter, Megan, has competed at
the Rock Eagle 4-H Center near
Eatonton and in Savannah.
"[Project S.A.F.E.] gets them up
off the couch and outside," he says.
"About half of them here, before they
did this, didn't know anything about
guns or how they work. Most of
these [kids] out here now are really
Denny Kuhr, a 20-year veteran
shotgun coach from Peachtree City
and one of three statewide S.A.F.E.
instructors, trains other 4-H shooting
"When we put on our coach's
certification [training], we let them
know, in the beginning, that our
primary goal is youth development,"
he says. "A big part of that is developing skills that [the youths] will use
throughout their lifetime. They learn
how to handle disappointment, how
to handle achievement, teamwork,
responsibility. Things like that are
crucial in life. We do that through
our shooting sports program.
"Learning to shoot safely is a
must, but that's just a small part
Jim Jess is an associate editor at
For more information on Georgia 4-H's
Project S.A.F.E. program, call (706) 542-4444
or visit georgia4h.org/safe.