Shooting club attracts 54 kids in Garfield 4-H |

Shooting club attracts 54 kids in Garfield 4-H

SILT ” Jessica Erpestad shoots like a girl ” and that’s just fine with her.

Thursday night at the Silt Fire Station, Erpestad, 15, wore a bright red shirt with “Jessie” embroidered on the front in small letters, and “I shoot like a girl” on the back in big, bold cursive type. She was attending the Rifle Future Sportsmen’s Club meeting, along with more than 50 kids, parents and 4-H leaders.

“When I started with the club five years ago, my sister Sara and I were the only girls,” Erpestad said. “We were kicking all the boys’ butts, so we figured we needed a shirt.”

Now, there are a lot more girls in the program,” according to Sara Erpestad, 17 ” girls like Nichelle Jaeger, 14, of Silt.

“I joined three years ago,” Nichelle said. “Before that, I’d never shot a gun.”

Even the club’s president is a girl ” Savana Hatch, 16, of New Castle ” and an accomplished shooter at that. Hatch qualified for state competition last year, and came in sixth out of 40 shooters, only two of whom were women.

The club as a whole is a mighty accomplished group. The Garfield County team took top honors at state in 2003 with a first place win.

Safety first

The shooting club is one of 22 4-H clubs in Garfield County that range in disciplines from raising livestock to studying ecology.

“The shooting club is the fastest growing section in 4-H,” said Dustin Burner, 15, of Rifle.

Savana’s mom, leader Ros Hatch, confirmed that.

“We’ve have approximately 54 boys and girls participating in shooting sports of all kinds,” she said.

The club practices shotgun, .22 rifle, archery, air rifle and air pistol in weekly sessions throughout the spring and summer, finishing with competition at the end of the season.

Hatch said above all else, the club’s first and most important priority is safety.

“We learn safety first and then learn accuracy,” she said.

Dustin said the whole program is about safety.

“There’s only been one accident in 4-H shooting,” Dustin said. “And that was in Texas. A kid shot himself in the foot. It was a fluke.”

Zack Fox, 14, who lives above Silt, said nationwide, clubs are required to give safety training, including hunter safety classes for all shooters.

“We have safety rules and regs that we have to use,” Zack said. “And if there’s the slightest disturbance or any kind of reckless behavior, those people are kicked off the club immediately for that day. We all know how to properly use firearms.”

“Our leaders are really good about teaching us safety skills,” Nichelle added.

Getting a grant

The shooting club got a financial boost at Thursday’s meeting when Carbondale resident Richard Teague presented a check for $450 to the group on behalf of the National Rifle Association Foundation.

Hatch said the money will be used to purchase firearms and targets for the club.

Besides grants, the club raises money with a BB-gun shooting booth and food booth at the Garfield County Fair each year. Club members also serve lunch at local shooting matches and sell beverages at events.

The money the club earns goes towards postage, emergency equipment, targets, T-shirts, plaques and a banquet at the end of the year that recognizes all club members.

Cody Nurr, 12, of Rifle, comes from a hunting family. He said the club has helped him be a better shooter.

“I’ve been a member for four years,” he said. “I’m pretty good. I got a fifth place last year.”

Nichelle Jaeger said she doesn’t really care about how good of a shot she is.

“I like the club because I’ve met a whole bunch of people,” she said.

Monte Montgomery of Rifle attended the meeting with his daughter, 11-year-old Collette.

“I want to learn how to shoot a .22 so when I get older I’ll know how,” she said.

Travis Ketelsleger, 10, is in his second year of the shooting club.

“I started because my sister was in 4-H horses,” he said. “I decided on shooting because I like to get out in the fresh air.”

This year, the club is planning to hold a raffle, and members are looking for sponsors who would like to donate money or prizes.

For information on the shooting club or donating to the raffle, contact Ros Hatch at 984-2016. For information about Garfield County’s other

4-H projects, call 625-3969.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

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