After he finished shooting, put down his gun and walked away from the range, Will Harper, 11, wasn’t feeling all too great about his performance.

“I know I missed a bunch,” he said, referring to shots he’d taken at targets during the four rounds — prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing — he’d just completed for the 4-H Sharpshooters club’s July 18 riflery showcase.

Before the Whiskey Myers kickoff concert, before the 4-H agricultural swine, beef, lamb, goat and horse shows, and before fried dough made its way into thousands of mouth across Jackson, that event got the Teton County Fair off to a quiet start.

The first event of the fair, the 4-H riflery showcase, took place down on Highway 191 on the morning of July 18 and, though it might seem strange that a riflery competition featuring 4-H seniors and intermediates was a subdued affair, it was. The kids shot .22 caliber rifles with silencers, pointed the guns only at the ground and range while they were reloading, and placed orange empty chamber flags in the barrels of their rifles once they were done shooting,

The 4-H riflery showcase was a competition — prizes were awarded to the first- (the grand champion), second- (the reserve champion), and third-place (bronze) finishers — but it was also more than that.

4-H rifle match

Young shooters compete July 18 in the first of four rounds of the 4-H Club’s rifle match at the Jackson Hole Gun Club.

For Andrew Wilson, the adult leader of the Sharpshooters, leading the club is about teaching kids what he calls the three R’s: “respect, responsibility, and restraint.”

“Everybody talks about rights, rights, rights, but nobody talks about responsibility,” Wilson said. “It gives me an opportunity to inculcate that into them and then demonstrate a healthy, responsible way of handling firearms and being around them.”

And for the kids in the group, a mix of 4-H seniors and intermediates, getting out and shooting wasn’t just about the competition, though it was on their minds as the scores were tallied at the end of the shoot.

Will, 11, and his friend Tristan Robertson, 11, both joined the Sharpshooters for the first time this year. Though Tristan wasn’t as sold on shooting as his friend, Will was there for a purpose: to get ready for a hunting trip he was hoping to take with his grandfather, Bill Rode, when he turned 12.

Rode, who was also at the event, called the Sharpshooters club “a good program.”

“The volunteers teach these kids right from wrong,” he said.

4-H rifle match

Jackie Kuhns, 12, points out a part of her target to Teton County 4-H Club leader Andrew Wilson between rounds of the 4-H Club’s rifle match at Jackson Hole Gun Club on Thursday, the first day of the Teton County Fair.

As the results were tallied, Will waited, milling between his grandfather and future hunting partner and Tristan. When the dust settled it became clear that Will’s initial misgivings about his performance were unfounded.

He won the intermediate division with a score of 149 out of 400 possible points (the max for each round was 100).

Jackie Kuhns, 12, was the intermediate reserve champion with a score of 144. Tristan and Jack Berezay were awarded the bronze medal with scores of 106 and 69, respectively.

In the senior division Henry Berezay was the grand champion (279), Carter Watsabaugh was the reserve (259), and Henry’s brother, Spencer, nabbed the bronze (207).

Jackie, one of the only girls in the event, said coming in second for the intermediates wasn’t all about taking home the silver.

“It showed that I can beat boys,” she said.

Contact Billy Arnold at 732-7062 or

Scene Editor Billy Arnold covers arts and entertainment. He apprenticed as a sound engineer at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio before making his way to Jackson, where he has become a low-key fan of country music.

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