CHANNING - The fifth annual 4-H Shooting Sports Camp was a success, with Dickinson County 4-H, Camp Molinare and Sagola Township Sportsmen's Club teaming up to provide firearms safety and marksmanship training to Upper Peninsula youth.
Campers arrived on Friday evening and were briefed on the three fundamental safety rules and range procedures. Instructor Andy Plumley ran the briefing before the campers were treated to a game of kickball and smores by the campfire.
Saturday morning the campers traveled to the Sagola Township Sportsmen's Club range and shot .22 rifles, 20 gauge shotguns, and even archery. There was one instructor on every firearm providing instruction on the safe use and fundamentals of shooting.
Pictured at the 4-H Shooting Sports Camp are, front row, from left, Dickinson County 4-H Big Shooters Club members Alexander Erickson, Katherine Erickson, President Sydney Smith, Treasurer Logan Smith, Mahkayla Kramer and Nick Reil; back row, 4-H Program Coordinator Meredith Imler, Wildlife Unlimited of Dickinson County (WUDC) board members Dave Maxon and Mike Selmo, instructor Tony Erickson, WUDC board member Rocky Schuster and instructor Cliff Smith.
During the lunch break, Megan Chen presented a power-point presentation about competitive shooting on a college level. Chen is a past member of the Big Shooters 4-H Club of Dickinson County and a current member of the University of Michigan shooting team. Michigan is the top rifle team in the nation for 2013 and 2014.
Firearms training wrapped up around 3 p.m. Campers then enjoyed a swim in Sawyer Lake. Pizzas, donated by Bullseyes to Badguys, arrived for supper. After dinner campers enjoyed games of volleyball and campfire stories at Camp Molinare.
Sunday was competition day. The first event was trap shooting with a 20 gauge shotgun. The top two shooters were 14-year-old Lincoln Pettibone of Iron Mountain and 12-year-old Hunter Shampo of Iron Mountain.
After numerous tied rounds it was Shampo pulling out the win and earning a brick with his name on it in the walkway to Camp Molinare.
In the rifle competition, 11-year-old Katherine Erickson of Kingsford downed 10-year-old Garrick Shull of Marquette in the finals. Erickson also earned a brick in the walkway with her name on it.
This year was the first time for archery competition. After the first round, the top four shooters had an elimination round. In the final round it was 8-year-old Connor Berglund of Cornell taking second place behind Katherine Erickson, who earned her second title of the day. Berglund was the youngest shooter at the camp.
"Connor demonstrated the example that you need not be the oldest, fastest, tallest, strongest," said archery instructor Tony Smith. "Shooting is an individual sport and Connor Berglund defeated archers almost twice his age."
Erickson, the first shooter to earn two bricks in one year, will be competing for a state title at the annual 4-H State Shoot in Kimbal.
Many organizations made the camp possible. Wildlife Unlimited of Dickinson County donated the ammunition. Sagola Township Sportsmen's club donated the use of its facilities, bows and targets.
Bullseyes to Badguys provided firearms. Instructors from Bullseyes to Badguys (Kingsford), Old Glory Firearms (Escanaba), and Stony Farm Defense (Brimley) donated their time instructing during the weekend. Lead counselor Stefan Beeler of St. Charles coordinated all activities.
"Stefan has been here as a shooter, again as a counselor, and now as a coordinator," said Meredith Imler, Dickinson County 4-H coordinator. "He made this camp happen. Without him it would not have run as smoothly as it did or possibly at all. Thank you to all that made this great tradition continue."
For more information on 4-H shooting sports or other 4-H activities. please call the Michigan State University Extension office at (906) 774-0363.