Supported by a grant from the Kansas State Rifle Association, the Johnson County 4-H Shooting Sports BB Gun team placed third in this year’s Daisy National BB Gun Championship Four-Position Match, held July 1 through 3, in Rogers, Ark.
Held only for the nation’s best teams—those who win an invitation by placing at a state-level qualifying match—the 52-year-old national event hosted 71 total teams from across the nation, including 12 teams from Kansas. Johnson County’s five-member team placed third overall with a score of 2368 out of 2500, just one point down from silver-medal winner Walton Co., Ga., 4-H and 15 points behind perennial powerhouse and gold-medalist Pierre, S.D., Junior Shooters.
Members of this year’s team included:
• Daniel Smith, 15, Shawnee
• Chase Eccles, 14, Gardner
• Ben Rogers, 13, Gardner
• Jacob Smith, 12, Shawnee
• Abby Lawrenz, 12, Shawnee
Rogers took home a silver medal overall individually among 355 total competitors at the match, scoring a 486 out a possible 500, with 20 center shots. He also took the bronze medal in the sitting position, scoring a 99 out of 100 and seven center shots. Kansas 2015 BB Top Shot and two-time KSRA BB Gun Champion Daniel Smith placed eighth overall, with a 480 and 13 center shots. Eccles placed 26th, with a 474 aggregate; Jacob Smith placed 74th, with a 467; and Lawrenz placed 112th, with a 461.
Four of Johnson County’s five team members scored a perfect 100 percent on the match’s 50-question true/false and multiple-choice test covering contestants’ knowledge of shooting safety and the shooting sports.
Johnson County’s two-member alternate team included John Shreve, 11, of Shawnee, who placed 66th overall among 127 alternates with a total score of 437 and 8 center shots, and Michael Walls, 12, of Stanley, who placed 92nd with a 419 and 8 center shots.
This year’s Johnson County team moved up from 33rd out of 59 teams at last year’s Daisy National Championship, capping off a regular 2017 season that saw it take first place in the Kansas State Rifle Association BB Gun Championship April 1, and the 2017 4-H State BB Gun Championship April 29.
“Our 2017 team of seven has literally thousands of hours invested in their shooting education and training since they joined the shooting sports program, many of them at as young as 8 years old,” says veteran Johnson County 4-H Volunteer Rifle Instructor Barry Zimmerman. “It is rewarding as a coach to see their dedication to this discipline so rewarded. Their scores speak to their marksmanship and knowledge of the sport, but they each have unique gifts in other areas such as music, debate, athletics, art and academics. When thinking of our country’s future it is easy for me to be optimistic when I think of this group and the potential they each possess.”
Johnson County 4-H Rifle Club member Jennifer Commerford, 15, of Gardner, also competed in Rogers at this year’s 2017 Daisy Champions Match. The four-position Champions Match is held in conjunction with the National Championship, open to prior years’ competitors who are ineligible to return due to match rules that proscribe contestants from being on a national team for two consecutive years. Commerford placed 13th overall among 55 competitors with a total aggregate score of 468 out of 500, including a near-perfect 98 on the written test.
“Since 4-H emphasizes education first and competition second, I was particularly proud of the team’s performance on the skills and safety test,” said Johnson County 4-H Rifle Instructor Mike Smith. “One of my goals for the team was to see them recognized for test performance with five perfect 100s, and several team members set that as a personal goal, as well. I’m excited that we nearly met that ambitious goal.”
The Kansas 4-H Shooting Sports program is administered by K-State Research and Extension and 4-H Youth Development, which educates and promotes safe, competitive shooting among youth age 8 to 18 across the nation. Participants are taught and overseen by volunteer instructors who have been trained and certified by the state 4-H program to conduct safe training, and who volunteer hundreds of hours each year to support local youth. Disciplines include not only BB gun, but also air rifle and air pistol, smallbore rifle and pistol, muzzle-loading, shotgun, archery, and hunting skills.
For more information about the Johnson County Shooting Sports program, visit www.4-HShootingSports.com.