RICHLAND, Mo. (May 15, 2012) — Despite beginning only two years ago, members of the Pulaski County Shooting Sports 4H club took top-three awards in all three 4H archery and shotgun events in September last year — field archery, 3D archery, and skeet shotgun shooting — according to shotgun and archery instructor Gabe Butteris.
Those winners were Hunter Weller, Dalton Fisher, Derek Posten and Joey Morris in field archery, Weller, Morris, Posten, and Justin Shot in 3D archery; and Fisher, Weller, Ben Blank, Posten, and Brandon Long in shotgun events.
“We had good kids; the kids had the basic skills and we just had to tune them a little bit,” Butteris said. “They all had the natural knack for it.”
The organizations’ members aren’t limited to Richland students attending the Richland R-IV School District. Others participating come from Fort Leonard Wood, Laquey and Dixon; a separate shooting club exists sponsored by the Crocker R-II School District Future Farmers of America program, but some Crocker students come to Richland to participate in the archery program.
While its shooting range location on Brock Farm Estates right outside the Richland city limits in Camden County has generated concerns, organizational members said they want to work with the city to avoid further issues.
“The owner of the property who is letting us set up our range contacted us and told us he’d had some complaints, so we decided to come down, get them addressed, and have all the issues worked out,” Butteris said. “We’re just wanting to make sure we’re covered and we don’t have any problems and don’t want to cause any problems. Helping kids is all we’re about.”
Butteris said significant safety precautions are taken around young people and firearms.
“Our number one priority is safe shooting,” Butteris said. “Every leader has to go to the state level and be certified as an instructor … we set up so we would be away from town and shooting into trees so the trees would stop whatever rounds don’t hit the target anyways.”
In addition, all students go through a six-hour safety course put on by the instructors.
Participants in archery range from age 8 to 18; for shotguns, shooters are allowed to begin at 11 and range up to 18, though the oldest currently participating is 15. Butteris said those interested in participating can contact a 4H member at school, come to a 4H meeting, or call his wife, Jessica Butteris, at the 4H office in the Pulaski County Courthouse. Butteris said the organization will be conducting open houses for the program not only at Richland but also at Laquey, Dixon, and Stoutland to recruit more members.
The program is growing rapidly. In its first year, it had five shotgun participants and eight in archery, and this year had 11 in shotgun and 25 in archery, Butteris said.
“It takes a lot of time but I enjoy it, as long as kids are having a fun time, being safe, and learning something,” Butteris said. “Like I said, I’m all about the kids.”