Local marksmen headed to 4-H National Shooting Sports Championship – Greene Publishing, Inc.

Beth Moore, Contributor

The earliest evidence of archery dates to the late Paleolithic period, around 10,000 BC, when the Egyptian and neighboring Nubian cultures used bows and arrows for the purposes of hunting and warfare. Hunters still use bows and arrows for hunting purposes, but for kids in Madison County those bows and arrows are used for a fun, outdoor 4-H project and competition.

Hickory Grove 4-H Club leaders Steven and Jennifer Williams introduced 4-H archery to Madison County youth about eight years ago. The club continues to have members compete in archery competitions throughout the year. The final state match for 2021-2022 year was held in Newberry, Fla., At the Easton Newberry Archery Center from Saturday, March 19 to Sunday, March 20. Three archers from Madison made the trip, junior archer Luke Keeling, and senior archers Lane Keeling and Coleman Williams.

The junior group of archers started on Saturday morning shooting on the FITA range (the old bullseye targets). Next, they moved to 3-D targets and finished the day on the field range where they shot bullseye targets at various distances. Luke Keeling, age eight, using his sighted, compound bow, finished the day in third place in the junior division.

The senior division (ages 14-18) was divided into a two-day event. Saturday, senior archers began the day on the FITA range shooting distances up to 60 yards. They moved on to complete their day on the 3-D range. The group then returned on Sunday and again shot a round on the 3-D range and finished the day on the field range. When all the arrows were flying, Coleman Williams (age 17) finished seventh in the state, and Lane Keeling (age 14) finished third in the state.

The third place finish also afforded Lane the opportunity to travel to Grand Island, Neb., In June, for the 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships. He will be one of only four Florida 4-H members to represent Florida in the national competition. Lane has been shooting archery for about five years and does some hunting with his bow. His mom said that Lane is a little nervous but is also excited about the opportunity to participate at the national competition level. Lane is the son of Jason and Renata Keeling of Pinetta.

Another Madison County Senior 4-H member, Ben Melvin, has also qualified and is heading to Nebraska for the shooting sports championship. Melvin’s shooting sport of choice is air rifle. Melvin and his younger brother Will have both been active members of a new air rifle 4-H club, which started last year. On Saturday, April 9, five members of the club participated in the state air rifle tournament. Due to scheduling conflicts the competition was a mail in event. Vyrdani Powers, Fishur Webb, Carter Adams, Will Melvin and Ben Melvin all participated and shot over 100 shots each. The targets were scored and sent to the Florida 4-H state office. In the junior age division, Webb placed second in the state and Powers placed fourth. In the senior division Ben Melvin placed third and earned a spot on the four-person State of Florida team. He will also be traveling to Nebraska at the end of June for the National Championships. Ben has been shooting guns for several years but never in a competition. His mom said he was surprised that he earned a spot on the team. Ben is the son of James and Missy Melvin of Greenville.

The Madison guys and their families will travel to Grand Island, Neb., The last week of June and will be staying for five nights. A fundraiser was held by the Madison County 4-H to help with the expenses of the trip. Anyone who would like to donate and help families with travel expenses, should contact Beth Moore at (850) 973-4138.

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