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Shooting sports contest is a popular event for youth

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Photo by Hank Lohmeyer The 4-H trap shooting range has range safety built in to its ideal location.

One of the first events of the 2017 Delta County Fair took place Saturday, July 22, at the 4-H Shooting Sports facility in Tongue Creek Valley.

Local 4-H members competed in various disciplines including archery and the Western Heritage shooting sports event.

Western Heritage is in its second year in the Delta County 4-H program. It is intended in part to help keep alive the spirit of the American West. Closely supervised shooting exercise in small caliber six-shooter, rifle and shotgun are conducted. Old West attire is worn. Participants adopt a pioneer identity and do historical research on their characters to be presented in report form.

Ryan Gibson took on the character of "Ryan Paladin," born in the 1890s at Peach Valley. He became known for capturing outlaws and adopted the motto, "Have gun will travel."

Western Heritage participant Austin German's character was a homesteader named Red who was on the trail looking for his 160-acre piece of free land.

CSU Extension Agent for Youth Jackie Shea said top finishers in all of the shooting competitions will have the opportunity to move on to the Colorado State Fair.

Shooting sports leader George Baier shared how he has seen the program grow along with the Tongue Creek facility. In the year 2000 when he began as a volunteer, the site had been donated by the property owner. The county later assumed ownership and made the expanded facility possible.

The late Paul Parks had dedicated himself to helping kids learn the skills of self control, safety and firearms competence through shooting sports.

The facility has been developed by efforts of volunteers. Many of the adult leaders in the program don't have children of their own in the program any more. Still, they keep participating because they believe in the value of proper firearms education on overall character development.

Anyone wanting to volunteer as a 4-H shooting sports instructor can call CSU Extension at 874-2195.

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