Young sharpshooters win at state 4-H competition

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Bartow County 4-H has some young sharpshooters in its midst.

Four teams of 4-H’ers recently hit the mark at the Georgia 4-H Target Challenge Weekend in the state BB competition at Rock Eagle 4-H Camp in Eatonton, with the brother and sister team of Cole and Rylee Cook ranking as the county’s top shooters.

“This year, I felt the teams did very good at the state 4-H competition,” said volunteer coach Troy Martin, who handles the team with coaches Scott and Joann Drexler and teen leader Josh Drexler.

The 4-H’ers earned the right to compete in the state contest by qualifying at the Gordon and Spalding District/Area BB Contest in Calhoun in March. Teams had to shoot a score of 1,500 or better and individuals had to score 300 or better to compete at the state level.

At state, team 1 members Brandon Bosdell, Cole Cook, Jake Hall, Kaydee Huskins and Emma Swofford; team 2 members Larkin Chastain, Logan Cottle, Hailey Gomisch, Reese Leighly and Jake Schmanski; team 3 members Rylee Cook, Candler Savage and Delaney Tuplin; and team 4 members Jessica Green, Elias Leighly, Emma Savage and Paul Rackley had 10 minutes to shoot 10 shots in each of the four positions: prone, standing, sitting and kneeling. They also had to show their knowledge about shooting on a written exam.

In his first year of BB competition, Cole, 13, came in as Bartow’s top shooter, earning 455 points with seven center shots out of a possible 500 and ranking 69th out of 579 shooters. His scores were 92 with one center shot in prone, 90 with three center shots in standing, 90 with one center shot in sitting, 91 with two center shots in kneeling and a 92 on the test.

His 11-year-old sister, Rylee, also a first-year competitor, was a close second, scoring 453 points with eight centers and being ranked 82nd out of 579 shooters. She scored 90 with two centers in prone, 86 with no centers in standing, 93 with four centers in sitting, 92 with two centers in kneeling and a 92 on the test.

Cole also was Bartow’s top shooter in the standing position — Delaney also shot a 90 but had only one center shot — and Larkin was the best shooter in the kneeling position, 95 with three centers. Emma Swofford had Bartow’s top scores for prone — 96 with three centers — and sitting — 94 and three centers.

“Cole Cook is a very strong athlete in the sport of BB shooting competitions,” Martin said. “This is his first year shooting BB. He climbed right to the top.”

“It felt great to be our top shooter,” Cole said, noting standing is his favorite shooting position, and the one he said he is best at.

But the home-schooled eighth-grader wasn’t thrilled about his score.

“It wasn't my best score, so I can't say I was happy with it,” he said. “I try to beat my best score at every competition we go to. There is always room to improve.”

Rylee said it “feels good to be able to do well” at a competition.

“You always want to do your best for your team,” she said.

The home-schooled seventh-grader, whose best and favorite shooting position is sitting, also said she knows her score was “pretty good, but I always want to do better.”

For the children of Bert and Stacy Cook of Pine Log, lots of practice is key for improving their shooting skills and learning how to handle a BB gun safely. They both practice several times a week at home as well as one to two times a week with the team.

Each 4-H’er competing at state earned an award pin, and Logan and Jessica received special award pins for making a perfect score of 100 on the written exam.

Martin said Cole was honored as the top overall shooter in the competition, scoring 384 points with 17 centers out of a possible 400. He took first place in standing (95 with four centers), sitting (97 with five centers) and kneeling (95 with five centers) and second place in prone (97 with three centers).

“It was a very nice day for Cole Cook and Bartow County teams,” the Cartersville resident said.

The national team members are raising money to fund their trip. Anyone who would like to make a donation should contact the 4-H office at 770-387-5142 or uge1015@uga.edu.