Pierce county youth compete in national 4-H Shooting Sports
Each year teens and young adults come together from all over the country to represent their states in the 4-H National Shooting Sports Championship.
This year's Wisconsin competitors included quite a few from Pierce County. The entire Wisconsin Hunting Skills team, for example, is made up of Pierce County youth.
For example, River Falls resident April Daniel's three children, Allex, Aaron, and Meggan, each earned their place on one of the state teams representing Wisconsin at the national championship.
April said there are nine disciplines: air rifle, air pistol. .22 rifle, small bore (.22) pistol, shotgun, compound archery, recurve archery, muzzleloading, and hunting skills.
Hunting skills is a combination category that includes shotgun, archery, small bore (.22) rifle, and written tests on hunting skills and knowledge.
April said she's proud of her children and their performance in this year's competition, held June 25-30.
"They worked hard," she said.
Allex, 19, was on the small bore (.22) pistol team. He said he started competing when he was around 13.
"A lot of my friends that were older than me had started doing it before I had," Allex said. "And I had kinda wanted to get into it."
He said he didn't do very well at his first qualifying competition. But he's worked hard and gotten a lot better since then.
He said he spent 1.5 to 1.75 hours each day practicing before nationals. Once he found out what team he was on, he practiced two hours a day.
This was Allex's final year in 4-H. As he's aging out of the program, he hopes to be certified as a coach and help others going through the 4-H shooting sports program.
Aaron Daniels, 17, competed on the Wisconsin hunting skills team, which was comprised entirely of Pierce County youth.
"I love hunting, so it's a way for me to be able to test my skills to see what I know and how well I can do with that stuff," Aaron said. "It was just super fun."
Outside of competition, Aaron hunts deer with rifle and bow. He also occasionally hunts rabbit, squirrel and sometimes coyote.
Aaron said he's grown up learning to shoot everything. He's a member of the River Falls High School trap shooting team. He's also picked up archery in the past couple of years. He said he shoots .22 "all the time."
"It's always just a blast to shoot," he said.
Aaron normally practices daily for two weeks before nationals, and also tries to practice one to three times a week during the "off season."
Competitors were scored individually and as teams on each day of the competition, and then given an overall score at the end.
Aaron—who is homeschooled and will graduate in 2018—took second place on the third day. Overall, he placed 25th.
Meggan Daniels, 14, has been shooting since she was 6 years old.
She was on the Wisconsin air pistol team this year—her first time competing in the national contest.
A homeschooled high school freshman, Meggan said she'd like to try competing in air rifle or .22 rifle next year.
Kevin Larson, a state representative and coach from Pierce County, said this year's competition went excellently.
"We had just an incredible competition again this year," he said. "The whole state team was, except for a few exceptions, was kind of a younger team overall, but they really continued to show their maturity in competing in shooting sports, so that was remarkable."
The Pierce County youth did a good job, Larson said.
"I do have to kind of look at it as a whole state," he said. "But when your home team did as well as they did, you're definitely very, very proud."
He said he saw some of these kids start learning to shoot as younger children, and now seeing them compete at nationals "brings a lump to the throat."
Pierce County competitors
Meggan Daniels: Competing in the national championship for the first time
Brady Cebulla: Competing in the national championship for the first time
Jed Larson: Competing in the national championship for the second time
Hannah Brubaker: Competing in the national championship for the second time
Grace Larson: Competing in the national championship for the fourth time
Tyler Hines: Competing in the national championship for the third time. Fourth place, individual, day two of competition.
Tianna Cebulla: Competing in the national championship for the fourth time. Sixth place individually, day two of competition.
Aaron Daniels: Competing in the national championship for the second time. Second place individually, day three of the competition.
Zach Hines: Competing in the national championship for the fifth time
Small bore (.22) pistol
Allex Daniels: Competing in the national championship for the third time
Kevin Larson, State representative
Paul Daniels, air pistol
Kathy Brubaker, archery-compound
Jason Cebulla, hunting skills