The 4-H Club had four locations across Douglas prepared. Children and teenagers from across Wyoming descended upon Douglas and the Wyoming State Fairgrounds for the 4-H Wyoming State Shooting competition.
While some traveled hundreds of miles to be in attendance, the 29 shooters from Converse County had a home advantage. The different events were set at various places, most across the fairgrounds.
Archers were housed in the fairgrounds livestock barn, the air rifle range was in the Ft. Caspar facility and the air pistol range in Ft. Fetterman. The shooters using live ammo, the .22 caliber rifles and pistols, went out to the Douglas Trap Club.
More than two dozen shooters from Converse County found themselves on the final leaderboards, most multiple times. It officially began on July 11 with unscheduled archery for any competitor that wanted to make their way to the range.
The groupings from Converse County were scheduled for Friday afternoon and, separated by their ages, went to either the blue face or 3D targets. For the 3D shooting, the indoor setup allowed shooters to walk along the line and find just the right spot for them.
They had full-size fake animals set up at varying distances, with more points for animals that are smaller or further away. There were different birds, as well as deer and small animals for targets. The six of them placed everywhere from the teens to the mid-eighties out of competitors.
While the Converse County archers failed to climb to the top of the leaderboards in their solo shots, the teams regularly finished in the top two or three. Brennan Escobar finished in fourth place in the class A archery target shooting and third place for 3D shooting in the intermediate level.
In Class D intermediate, Garrett Norine got sixth place in target shooting and 11th place in 3D shooting, including five bullseyes. For the seniors level, there were Braeden Ullery, Isaac Moss, Madison Sorg, Kinzey Peregoy, along with sisters Josey and Faye Lankister.
The Lankister sisters are two of the closest competitors, to not be from Douglas, to make the trip to the state shoot. This was the fourth year shooting at the state competition for the sisters from Glenrock.
Josey Lankister said, “The shots are relatively good compared to how I’ve been practicing.”
Despite the wide range of success they had as individuals, the archery teams, for juniors and seniors, the team scores were consistently near the top. The Converse archery teams, in matching t-shirts, finished in second for junior Class B and third for Class D.
The senior Class D team was made of Moss, Sorg, Ullery and Faye Lankister and finished in seventh place with 1105 total points. Had they picked up four more points, they would have risen above one of the teams from Carbon County.
Ullery said, “3D, I didn’t shoot as great as I wanted to. I went inside of my bow this morning and I was tired. I was already kind of worn out from shooting.”
There were seven different competitions with guns for the Converse County shooters to prove their meddle in with intermediate, junior and senior levels. Alex Virtue of Douglas placed in the most events over the weekend.
His highest finishing was sixth place in the air pistol intermediate category. While nobody from Converse County climbed the summit and earned gold in any category, there were two people who finished in second. Frank Smylie was in the air rifle and the .22 rifle shooting, finishing in 2nd place and 29th, respectively.
Both Smylie and Virtue joined Ty Tompkins and James Byerly for the .22 rifle team juniors team. Trent Ford placed only in the shotgun categories getting in fifth place for the normal shotgun and second place with the handicaps.
The highest placing team from Converse County was the .22 rifle seniors that finished fifth. That team of Sorg, Peregoy and William Byerly ended with 560 points, over 250 points below Laramie County. The same trio also got sixth place in the air rifle team shoot.
While the results are important, and everybody strives to the best in the competition, the spot on the leaderboard isn’t the only thing at the end of the day. They all make relationships with other people in 4-H from around the state and the bonds last long after everyone has gone home. With dorms and a full cafeteria set up for the 4-H shooters, the ones from Converse County have the distinct advantage of closeness.
“It’s nice to not have to travel. We can just come out here, shoot, and then go home,” Ullery said.