News Release Distributed 08/13/14
BATON ROUGE, La. – The members of two Louisiana 4-H shooting sports teams will have plenty to talk about when asked what they did during their summer vacations.
The Louisiana 4-H shotgun and recurve archery teams won first place at the National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitational Tournament in Grand Island, Nebraska. It was the first time a Louisiana 4-H shotgun or recurve archery team had won the tournament.
Overall, Louisiana 4-H shooting sports teams came in fourth in the sweepstakes that includes nine categories. Louisiana teams were in the top 10 of every event in the competition held June 26-28.
“To win in shotgun is pretty impressive,” said David Boldt, state director of the 4-H shooting sports program. “Just to make it out of our state and go to the nationals is a feat in itself.”
Boldt said the shotgun team coach, Jon Hebert, of Lafayette, has been a big asset to the shooting sports program. “He’s helped me a lot at the state level.”
Boldt said getting enough shooters to form a team in the recurve archery competition has been a challenge because of the difficulty of shooting a recurve bow. He credited recurve archery coach, Harold Seguin, of Walker, for developing the team’s skills.
“Both coaches are good coaches and great volunteers for their parishes and the state,” Boldt said.
The shotgun team members were Colton Chandler and Dylan Whitstine, both of Grant Parish; Ian Duplantis, of Terrebonne Parish; and Austin Hebert, of Lafayette Parish, the coach’s son.
In a Cinderella story finish, they defeated a strong Texas team with considerably more experience, the elder Hebert said. “The Texas team for the last seven years straight has won the nationals.”
The Louisiana team hit 1,111 out of 1,200 shots, or 94 percent. The team jumped ahead of Texas the first day in the sporting clays competition, with Duplantis hitting 96 out of 100 clays. The next day the team finished fourth in skeet.
“We still had a lead on everybody,” Hebert said.
The final day was trap, presumably Louisiana’s weakest category and a strength of the Texas team.
Whitstine, a high school freshman, was the last Louisiana shooter in the trap event. Like the other events, each shooter takes aim at 100 targets with four boxes of shells. Louisiana’s placing now rested on Whitstine’s shoulders. “This is a kid who had never shot 25 straight in skeet or trap,” Hebert said.
This time, however, Whitstine shot three boxes of shells without missing, then failed to connect on his 98th pull of the trigger but hit numbers 99 and 100, cinching Louisiana’s shotgun team victory, edging out the favorite, Texas.
Whitstine’s performance was good enough for second-place among all individual shooters in the competition, and Duplantis was sixth.
Hebert said his boys came together as a team in the few weeks between the state tournament in April and the national event in late June.
“It was like a band of brothers the first time they got together,” he said.
Hebert said coaching youngsters in the 4-H shooting sports program is rewarding because it’s about teaching responsibility and firearm safety.
“It’s more fulfilling to watch them than pulling the trigger myself,” he said. “It’s all about teaching gun safety and how to be a responsible gun owner. I just take what I’ve learned and pass it on to these kids in the correct way.”
The 4-H team that won the shotgun U.S. championship in Nebraska this summer will be honored on Aug. 16 at the state National Rifle Association banquet in Alexandria.
The Louisiana 4-H recurve archery team ended a continuous streak by another state, Missouri, to win the national championship.
“It was a team effort,” said Coach Harold Seguin. “It was amazing how they came together.”
The team consisted of Seguin’s son, Hunter, who graduated from Walker High School this year; Garrett Richard and Elliott Bernard, both of St. Martin Parish; and Ryan Blomquist, of Rapides Parish.
For several years in a row, Missouri archers had dominated the recurve category. “They were the team to beat,” Seguin said.
Missouri managed to win the 3-D target category but had to settle for second place overall.
Not only did the Louisiana team win, but Seguin’s son was the second-best archer. Richard was eighth overall, and Bernard was 11th, while Blomquist was 21st out of the 52 competitors.
“I really think it was the camaraderie of the team,” Seguin said. “They had it in their sights that they had Missouri beat, and they didn’t look back.”
Seguin said archery requires a mastery of several skills, not just aiming at a target. For example, components on a recurve a bow must be fine-tuned to match a shooter’s technique. Shooters are required to keep their own scores, requiring solid math skills.
Seguin runs an industrial instrument shop in Baton Rouge, and he interviews young adults looking for work. “It is unbelievable the number of kids who cannot do math.”
Proper posture and developing practice habits are essential in archery, he said, but developing a sense of team work is important to win.
Seguin said he enjoyed seeing the boys meet competitors and develop friendships. He said his son is planning a hunting trip with one of the team members from Missouri.
Other Louisiana shooting sports teams shared in the success in Nebraska:
– Louisiana’s air pistol team came in third. Josh Husser of Tangipahoa Parish was third in the individual ranking in that category
– The state’s air rifle team came in eighth.
– The compound archery team was third, and Dustin Hayes, of St. Martin Parish, was fourth in the individual rankings.
– Clayton Simmons, of Bossier Parish, was 10th in individual hunting skills, and the Louisiana team ranked third.
– The state’s muzzleloading team placed ninth, and the small-bore pistol team was eighth.
– Travis Burns, of Rapides Parish, was eighth in small-bore rifle, and the small-bore rifle team was seventh.