How much do you know about competitive shooting?
Probably not as much as the kids coached by Ron Paterson.
Competitive shooting has always been a part of Paterson’s life. He was part of the 4-H national team for competitive shooting when he was a kid, and now both of his kids are following in his footsteps. His daughter, Lydia Paterson, will be going to the 2016 Olympics in Rio to compete in pistol shooting.
Paterson has a lot more to be proud of. His BB gun shooting team and his 4-H national team have excelled in competition. The teams’ successes start with safety training at a young age.
When it comes to competitive shooting, kids start off shooting with a BB gun. Twelve-year-old Garett Dall has been working on his marksmanship since he was 8 years old and has won second place at the Daisy National BB Gun competition. But, Dall had to go through four weeks of safety training before he could really use a gun.
“Well the basics of this program is to teach gun safety that is what 4-H created this program for. Gun safety and basic marksman skill.” Paterson said.
Safety is the first aspect of competitive shooting that kids learn. If a kid makes a serious safety error, a kid will be disqualified from the team for a year.
After kids master the BB gun, they can advance to shooting air pistols, rifles, and even archery. To strengthen these skills, the 4-H members practice four times a week, but it’s not always the physicality of the sport that they focus on the most.
“I prefer to just embrace the nerves and as soon as I get on the line then I just have to let it go,” Irene Bird said.
Bird, who helped her team win the small bore rifle competition in the 4-H Nationals, said nerves and stress are what kids have to worry about when they’re getting ready to shoot.
“You just have to trust yourself and the work you’ve put in,” Sophie Roper said.
Roper is also on the 4-H team and has been shooting since she was 10-years-old.
“Once you start, it kind of sticks with you,” Roper said.