Val Verde County 4-H Shooting Sports program

Members of the Val Verde County 4-H Shooting Sports program, front row, from left, Haley Haralson, Reed Hunt, Steven Fernandez, Miles Hanselman, Alondra Delgado, Remi Sewalt and Mason Hanselman. Amistad Friends of the NRA members, back row, from left, chair Fernando Garcia, John Glenn, Randy Galloway, Ken Hoehn, Bill Cooper and Gary Humphreys.

An Amistad Friends of the NRA donation to Val Verde County 4-H Shooting Sports will help fund the young shooters’ competitive efforts in the year ahead.

Amistad Friends of the NRA members presented the $5,339.85 check to the shooting sports program in a brief ceremony at the Del Rio Civic Center on Monday.

“The Amistad Friends of the NRA donates regularly to the Val Verde County 4-H Shooting Sports program. The NRA in general is great about supporting our shooting sports youth program through the local Friends of the NRA chapter,” said Emily Grant, Val Verde County agent for agriculture, natural resource and 4-H.

Fernando Garcia, Amistad Friends of the NRA chairman, said the group raises the money donated to the local 4-H program through its annual banquet fundraiser. This year’s Amistad Friends of the NRA banquet is set for Sept. 7.

Grant said the monies presented to 4-H by Amistad Friends of the NRA are typically used for equipment.

“We purchase new guns, we repair guns, and we purchase shooting gear,” Grant said. “The donation is important because it costs a lot of money for our youngsters to be involved in shooting sports. Guns are expensive, and the shooting outfits and equipment are expensive.

“The remarkable thing about shooting sports is how much wearing a shooting jacket increases your score. Currently, only our first-level team has full shooting gear. Our second and third and intermediates and juniors only shoot in jackets, so I think it would be our goal, through the NRA grant, to hopefully continue to build up our supply of equipment so we can outfit more of the teams with complete equipment, better guns, things like that,” Grant said.

In the near future, Grant said, the NRA grants will also help the local 4-H shooting sports organization build a new facility where youngsters can practice for competitions at the county, district and state levels.

“We have about 135 kids who go through the shooting sports program every year, and from that group, we send youth on to the district contests and our senior teams can qualify for state,” she said.

“It’s one of our most popular projects because it doesn’t cost a lot to participate in. There’s a $100 participation fee, and although some kids purchase their own equipment, we own most of the equipment that they will use,” Grant said.

The backbone of the program, though, is its volunteers, she said.

“We have about 15 volunteers who really make the shooting sports program what it is. Our coaches go through a certified shooting sports coaches training through 4-H. Safety is our number one priority. Competition is our second. Our volunteers are really what makes that program so awesome,” Grant said.

The Val Verde 4-H Shooting Sports program is active from September until the end of November, with district shooters continuing from January through April or May.

“We’ve always been very competitive, especially at the state level, with our shooting sports program. We have a history of excellence here,” Grant said.

NRA spokesman Tyler Ward said the NRA is proud to support the local shooting program.

“This marks the fourth time the group has been financially supported by the NRA Foundation. The funds will be used in continuation of equipment upgrades and to purchase ammunition. The Val Verde 4-H Shooting Sports group has exhibited exceptional performance the past 26-plus consecutive years in sending a team to state and providing firearm safety and education to children in the local community,” Ward added.

“The NRA grants allow us to do so much. Without their support, there is no way we could raise that much money in a year, every year, for the shooting sports program. It’s neat to see our local NRA get involved with our youth, and without their grants, we would not have half the equipment we do today,” Grant said.

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