Katelyn Reh wasn’t sure she wanted to be in the shooting club when she joined the Ellinwood Energizers 4-H Club 10 years ago.
But, she stuck with it, and in late June Reh was one of three Barton County teenagers to attend the 2017 National 4-H Shooting Sports Championships held in Grand Island, Nebraska.
Reh spoke recently at the Great Bend Noon Kiwanis Club, where she showed some of the targets from the .22 rifle competition.
Parker Smith from Great Bend and Reh from the Ellinwood Energizers 4-H Club competed in the .22 rifle or small bore rifle event, representing Kansas. Sam McGinnis from Great Bend also represented the state, competing in archery.
In addition to traditional “bulls-eye” targets, Reh showed small, cast iron animal silhouettes used in competition. The largest was a ram, about a foot wide, that was her target at 100 yards.
Reh explained how the 4-H shooting sports year starts around Oct. 1 with six weeks of safety training. Children 8-18 years old can shoot with air rifles, but they must be at least 12 years old to use the .22 rifles.
Her family got involved in 4-H a decade ago because they wanted to train dogs. The shooting club was also available.
“At first I was not too thrilled about it because I could not hold up the rifle I was shooting,” Reh said. But her coach, Frank Ochs, cut the end off a plastic air rifle butt, making it short enough for her to comfortably use.
Since then, Reh has also gotten involved in 4-H photography and leadership classes and is a 4-H Ambassador.
The shooting club members practice often at the Kiowa Gun Club, located near the Arkansas River on Radium Road. Five years ago, when Barton County’s .22 rifle program started, Reh’s dad agreed to be a shooting coach. He has built a shooting range in their back yard.
Berny Unruh from the Cottonwood District K-State Extension office in Barton County said the archery club meets in the old 4-H Building on U.S. 281 between Great Bend and Hoisington. This group also begins its year with safety lessons and continues with regular practice and competition.
“Barton County is on the map as one of the better shooting clubs,” Unruh said. The club owns its air rifles, but 4-Hers have to provide their own .22 rifles and bows. “The leaders donate a lot of time and equipment,” she added.
Unruh praised the shooting programs for the discipline children must learn if they want to continue. “It teaches them a little bit of patience.”
Reh is a good example of how 4-H can help a youth's character development, Unruh added. “She is not only a good shot; she is an excellent leader and president of her 4-H club. Lots of kids look up to her.”
For more information about Barton County 4-H clubs contact Unruh at the Extension office, 620-793-1913.