HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of Mississippi teens are learning to become better shots and do it the safe way. The Mississippi 4-H Shooting Sports State Invitational is underway in Harrison County. Organizers said the lessons being taught can go with these young people throughout their lives.
The teen shooters are some of Mississippi's best in speed and accuracy. The 375 competitors came to vie for the chance to move on to nationals after excelling in their district competition.
It's intimidating whenever you get out there. You've got to up your game definitely for sure," said Elsa Schmitz of Poplarville. "It's nice to meet everybody from around the state to be able to talk to them about the different things that they shoot which aren't the things that they shoot and how they enjoy it."
4-H officials say the shooting sports program is all about challenging youth to continue to develop their skills. Usually a child enters the program using bb and pellet guns then over time moves on the shots guns and archery.
Dr. John Long is the 4-H Youth Development Specialist. "Keeping their interest is critical. We want to get them, bring them into the program, and keep them here. We think it's a great program. We know it is."
"Any time you take a young person and teach them gun safety or teach them archery safety, you're providing them with something. When they're approached in life and they find a firearm in their house, then they know to stay away from it or tell an adult. Or if they seek enjoyment out of it that they learn it the proper way."
The teens said they've learned not to let one bad round get them down.
Schmitz said, "It's teaching me the skill to not give up whenever everything goes wrong because some days you have a really bad day of shooting and you get really frustrated but it teaches you to get back up and be able to persevere through the mess ups."
The competition continues tomorrow. The Coast Riffle and Pistol Club is hosting the event.