Vivian Marcellus prepares to load her gun as her turn comes up for trap shooting recently at 4-H shooting sports shotgun trap practice, as Dylan Arnold, Blake Chaloupek, Hunter Werkmeister and Jacob Ricks are all on the line taking their turns. The team is hosting a benefit trap shoot July 13, to raise funds for all shooting sports offered in the 4-H shooting sports programs. L&T photos/Larry Phillips
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
Children and adults will have the opportunity to take aim at targets and win some prizes.
The Seward County 4-H shooting sports club, the Seward County Sharp Shooters, will host its second annual fundraising benefit trap shoot July 13 at the Liberal Gun Club on east Tucker Road. Registration and practice will start at 9 a.m., and the shooting competition will begin at 10:30 a.m.
“It’s a benefit to raise money for Seward County 4-H shooting sports,” said coordinator Larry Phillips. “We have BB gun teams. We have archery teams. We have shotgun trap teams. All of them are under the umbrella of the team name, the Seward County Sharpshooters.”
Phillips said the money raised from the benefit helps the club purchase equipment, ammunition, targets, floor mats for BB gun shooting and other things needed for shooting sports.
“All efforts are made to keep this program free for the children,” he said. “Some kids bring their own BB gun or their own bow or their own shotgun. That’s fine. Some bring their own ammunition, but we want to make sure this is open to the public, and it’s free to the kids.”
Phillips said the local shooting sports program has really taken off.
“I became the Seward County shooting sports coordinator in November 2012,” he said. “We had six boys signed up for BB gun, and there was a handful of kids who did a little bit of archery with Tracy Gutierrez, who is our certified archery instructor.”
Recently, the program saw its 50th child enroll, and Phillips said the Liberal community has been very supportive of shooting sports.
“We’re not only maintaining a tradition of shooting, but they learn safety is the number one priority,” he said.
Shooting sports do more for young people than just teaching them how to hit targets, Phillips said.
“This builds life skills for these children,” he said. “Their self-esteem builds. They see they can do it. If they follow the instructors and learn their form and learn certain things about shooting and concentration and practice and dedication, they get better each week, each month, each year.”
Phillips described one of the program’s participants who, when they initially tried trap shooting, could not hit targets. He said the child began to have doubts about their ability, but after some encouragement, and a little practice, they now can hit targets on a regular basis.
“I call it the ‘I-can-do-it’ mentality,” he said. “It will help these children with a lot of things in life. If you stay with it, you do what’s right, you can do it.”
Phillips said this is what the instructors, who, along with he and Gutierrez, and include shotgun trap instructor Greg Standard and BB gun instructor Jim Stoddard, find gratifying about the 4-H program.
“All of us are in it to see how these children develop and maintain a tradition that’s as old as our country – shooting sports,” Phillips said. “Shooting does not have to be demeaned as some kind of evil sport. You can go to the Olympics in shotgun trap, skeet and different shooting sports.”
Everyone is invited to take part in the July 13 shoot.
“It’s $30 per person regardless of age,” Phillips said. “There will be cash prizes for the first three adults in both men and women’s categories. That’s 17 and older. Of course, 10 to 16 is the youth, and the youth will earn plaques for first, second and third in both boys and girls.”
Phillips said the upcoming shoot has a uniqueness to it from other such events.
“We’ve designed it where they get three different problems,” he said. “We shoot the first 25 shells at trap at 16 yards. We take them over, and we give them 25 shots at skeet. We come back to the trap area and shoot 25 more shells, but we make them shoot from a further distance than 16 yards. The combined score out of that 75, the highest score wins.”
Phillips said the shoot is a good opportunity for everyone to come out and support a good program.
“All the money goes to the kids,” he said. “Everybody that’s involved in this, they’re volunteers. We don’t take a dime in any way shape or form. People’s dollar donated is a dollar for the kids, for their equipment, their ammunition, which allows kids of all means an opportunity to learn how to shoot safely and get involved in shooting sports, and it doesn’t cost them. There’s very few things you can get in life nowadays that’s free where you really learn life lessons. Come out and join fun on July 13, and shoot some trap with us.”
For more information or for non-shooters who would like to participate, call Phillips at 655-9227.