Shooting sports in Georgia 4-H are popular, with shotgun, air rifle and archery attracting many participants, but a less well-known shooting sport in Georgia 4-H has produced two athletes who will represent the U.S. at the International Shooting Sports Junior World Championships later this year.
After competing in the National Junior Olympic Air Pistol Championship (NJOSC) held June 16 to 20, former 4-Her Katelyn Abeln of Douglasville, Georgia, won the women’s division with a score of 1700, and Remington Smith of Ashburn, Georgia, won the men’s division with a score of 1693. These two sharpshooters will compete at the ISSF championships September 27 through October 10 in Lima, Peru.
Volunteer coach Faye Belowflower became involved with Georgia 4-H air pistol team in 2015 through Turner County 4-H, which was coordinated by the local 4-H agents with UGA Cooperative Extension. Belflower built from there to create a large program in the state. Her favorite part of the air pistol competitions has been the community it created.
Unlike 4-H Project SAFE Shooting Sports disciplines 22 Rimfire, Air Rifle and Shotgun, air pistol is offered to Cloverleaf 4-H’ers beginning in fourth grade.
“When we are at a competition, it doesn’t matter which team you are on. If a student has a problem, everyone is there to help,” said Belflower.
Remington was one of Belflower’s first students. He has been shooting for seven years. Before winning the NJOSC, he told Belflower that he is setting his eyes on the 2024 Olympics.
After only being firmly established for six years, the Georgia 4-H Air Pistol team is still the smallest shooting sport, however, it’s growth and achievements are making it a top-tier competition sport.
Georgia 4-H empowers youth to become true leaders by developing necessary life skills, positive relationships and community awareness. As the largest youth leadership organization in the state, 4-H reaches more than 190,000 people annually through University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offices and 4-H facilities. For more information, visit georgia4h.org or contact your local Extension office.