Virginia Youngsters Dialed In at 4-H Tourney; Shooters Claim National Championship
Updated: Feb 22
The Virginia 4-H shotgun development team brought the fireworks to the organization’s national championships in Grand Isle, Nebraska, winning both the Skeet and Trap rounds and finishing in first place overall to earn the title "National Champions."
Texas took second overall followed by Louisiana in the 30-team field featuring 117 shooters.
Mattison Russell, age 16, of Mecklenburg County placed third overall in individual honors with a score of 2.9045.
A “modified percentage point” scoring system that helps equalize point differences between events is used at the nationals for both high team and overall individual honors.
Grayson Melton, 18, of Powhatan County placed fifth overall, while Nottoway County’s Walker Coleman, 17, took seventh with 2.8331. Appomattox County resident Charlie Maddox, 15, finished 19th overall.
The Virginians took first in the competition’s skeet round with a score of 289, narrowly besting Texas by two targets.
The Virginia youngsters showed why they are shooters you would want by your side in any duck blind or dove field. Their first-place finish in the trap competition saw them bust 290 of 300 targets, easily besting Colorado, Louisiana and West Virginia and their three-way tie of 284. Walker Coleman and Mattison Russell led the way with scores of 97. Grayson Melton shot a 96, while Charlie Maddox had a 92. Coleman finished 3rd overall after busting 10 of 10 in a shoot-off tiebreaker.
Texas won the first day’s sporting clays round, which most closely approximates hunting scenarios, with a score of 268, followed by Virginia with 260. Grayson Melton was Virginia’s top shooter in that round, firing an 88. Russell and Coleman each shot 86. Maddox had a 71.
Virginia’s consistently high performance is what gave the team to overall national crown. Coach Jinx Baney of Brodnax, a retired Brunswick County extension agent, said, "This accomplishment shows that we not only have outstanding youth in our Virginia 4-H Program, but also outstanding shotgun shooters.”
Baney said Virginia last sent a shotgun team to the 4-H Nationals in 2013. States with 4-H shooting sports programs can field teams for the nationals but sending them to Nebraska for a week can be expensive and 4-H requires at least two adult coaches accompany each team.
“During the last 5 years, many other outstanding Virginia shotgun shooters missed out on this amazing experience because no adults volunteered to take a team,” Baney said. “David Maddox, this year's assistant coach, has already made a commitment to take a team in 2020. Hopefully, the Virginia 4-H Shooting Education Program will be able to keep the ball rolling and have more teams in all disciplines in the future."
Archers Compete for First Time
This was the first time Virginia sent an archery team to the nationals, with two King George Country girls and two Augusta County boys comprising the compound archery squad.
The young team consisted of Anna Ackerman, 15; Alexis Loughner, 16; Ethan Avery, 15; and Hunter Campbell, 15. Alan Campbell served as coach with Bob Ackerman assistant coach.
Virginia’s compound archery team finished 13th overall in a 24-team field. Missouri was the overall winner.
Avery had Virginia’s highest overall individual finish, placing 40th out of 104 shooters with a score of 2.6010. The next highest Virginia score was Campbell with a 2.5558. He finished 50th, closely followed by Loughner, 16, who placed 52nd with a score of 2.5448. Ackerman, 16, rounded out the team’s scoring with a 2.3485, good for 72nd place.
The archery team finished 14th in the first day’s FITA round, which was won by Missouri. A FITA round consists of shooting from four different distances. Loughner was Virginia’s top archer in that round, scoring 650 points and finishing 47th in the 104-shooter field. Ackerman shot a 643, good for 54th.
Day two saw the youngsters shooting a “Field” round, which involves shooting at targets of different sizes or shapes at varying distances. The terrain is often uneven or wooded.
New Mexico won that round. Virginia finished 16th. Ethan Avery led Virginia with a 25th place individual finish and a 233 score. Loughner had a 225, good for 40th place. Team members Hunter Campbell shot a 195, while Ackerman recorded a 187. Her father Bob said the second day saw tough shooting conditions with strong, sustained winds and gusts sometimes blowing arrows off the bows’ rests.
In the final 3-D archery round, Virginia finished in 10th place with a score of 691, led by Hunter Campbell who fired a 251 score, good enough for a 25th place individual finish. Missouri also won that round with a 777. Avery with a 227, Loughner at 213 and Ackerman at 202 rounded out Virginia’s scoring.
A 3-D range usually includes life-size targets of animals, positioned to mimic scenarios bowhunters face in the field.