Written by Kathryn Reeves (former SDSU Extension 4-H Science Field Specialist).
Final preparations are underway to welcome 4-H shooters from across the state to one of the largest youth shooting events in the nation. Over 2500 qualifying scores have been posted, and there’s an excellent chance we may see several perfect scores this year! An event of this size can be overwhelming to first time attendees, so here are a few tips to help ease the fear of the unknown.
The EXPO building in Ft. Pierre, located at 320 Casey Tibbs Street, is the size of 1.5 Olympic hockey rinks. Seven different ranges operate in that space, operating from Noon on Friday until noon on Sunday. There is also a full concession stand, and our state match t-shirt vendor. Off-site, there are four more ranges, which handle the 22 rifle and pistol events as well as the 3-D archery. There are two info centers in the building, one just past the main entrance for guns and general questions, and one in the archery area.
- Tip 1: The State Shoot operates on Central Time… 8 a.m. Mountain is 9 a.m. Central.
- Tip 2: All bows and guns must be encased when entering the building. Using the cardboard box your gun or bow came in is perfectly fine, they just can’t come in without a cover.
- Tip 3: Bring your own chair! We have very limited seating in the building, so do bring a camp chair or something to sit on.
- Tip 4: Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before your shooting time so you have plenty of time for parking, finding your county, getting checked in, etc. If you want photos, take them during the preparation period. No flash photography allowed once the relay begins.
- Tip 5: This is a BIG event; remind your child that it doesn’t matter how long the firing line is, the targets are the same, and all he/she has to do is focus on one shot at a time.
- Tip 6: Be aware of how difficult it is to get a blue or purple ribbon, and prepare your child. It is not unusual for a beginner to drop 20 points from their average at their first State Shoot. If they are prepared to receive a white or red ribbon, they will have a much better experience. Check with a county coach for information on ribbon breakdowns.
- Tip 7: Take part in the extras available at the shoot. There’s 3-D archery, air pistol and air rifle silhouettes, and of course the State Shoot t-shirts and sweatshirts. Proceeds from some of these paying events help in the purchase of equipment for the match and support the South Dakota team travelling to nationals each year.
- Tip 8: Have fun! Everyone has worked hard to get here, so enjoy the fact that your child qualified, and embrace the experience. There may be only a few purple ribbon shooters, but we can have 1500 + purple ribbon kids!
- Tip 9: Meet someone new, and make a friend!