Highland Sharp Shooters 4-H Club
“I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service and my health to better living for my club, my community, my country and my world.” That is the 4-H Pledge, spoken by Vit Majer, Mary Anne Rogers, James VanReenen, and Joseph Will inside the Highland Health Trailer at Highland County Public Schools. These young people are just some of the participants in the Highland Sharp Shooters 4-H Club. Instructors Roger Straub, Steve Rogers, Terry Allamong and Jay Garber have all had training out of the county to become Certified 4-H Rifle Instructors for the group.
Mr. Straub spoke with AMR about the club, which he says is something that is quite alive in 4-H. He said, “What it’s about is taking these youngsters, teaching them gun safety, which is absolutely paramount and tryin’ to teach ‘em to become proficient and accurate. Now, 4-H, it also holds competitions in different positions, standing, kneeling, prone, and we’ve come to find out that a lotta the counties around us are very active with it. Now, we’ve yet to see a match, but we’re hoping to go see one, so, meanwhile, we have these nice brand-new air rifles, which right now any of the kids can shoot. Now, we don’t have .22s yet. That’s further off in to the future, and there is an age requirement for that. They have to be a certain age before they can shoot a .22, and that’s as big a gun as we go to.”
When I visited the trailer, BB guns were being fired at targets indoors under supervision and with protective eyewear. After several rounds of shooting, the targets were examined by instructors and students for accuracy. BB guns were being used at a shooting distance of 8 to 9 feet, but that is planned to increase to around 15 feet with the acquiring of four new pellet guns.
Mr. Straub said, “Our pellet guns came to us via a National Rifle Association Grant we applied for, and we’re very lucky to have ‘em, and it’s gonna take a little bit of training. There’s gonna be a bit of a learning curve for the adults, as well as the kids, but I think the kids they’re gonna enjoy these.”
Mr. Straub further explains why the club is important. He said, “Well, I have been a shooter since I was 9 years old, and there doesn’t seem to be that much of a drive for people hunting and other things, although here, hunting’s still a big deal, and I think if we don’t teach our youth, it’s a skill that may disappear, and I don’t want it to disappear.”
Many of the participants are hunters, so the skills they learn here hope to be applied in the woods. Participant Joseph Will speaks about his experience with the club. He said, “It’s really cool, because the best thing is about learning safety about guns and being more protected about ‘em.”
The Highland Sharp Shooters 4-H Club meets twice a month after school for ages 9 and up through high school. People can learn more by contacting the 4-H Youth Development Agent, Kari Sponaugle, at the Highland County office of the Virginia Cooperative Extension at 540-468-2225.