HANCOCK COUNTY — The Hancock County 4-H Shooting Sports Club recently competed in the 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships.

The competition, which took place from June 25-30 in Grand Island, Nebraska, featured teams and individual competitors from all across the country.

Hancock County was represented by three members – brothers Brandon and Andrew Metz and Emma Bogle.

While the Hancock County 4-H club offers shooting instructions to all people, there are a few every so often who have the desire and will to do so at a competitive level.

The Metz brothers and Bogle fit that mold this year.

“We work really hard with them, and every once in a while you get a set of kids that come through and are willing to go the extra mile,” Hancock County shooting sports instructor Deb Cochard said. “It’s really a project for them. Those students that want to do competitions, we start them earlier and have them go year-round to get that practice.”

Bogle was one who began training year-round to get to the competitive level that she is at now.

The extended training and practice helped her place 19th out of 55 competitors at nationals in the air pistol category. She finished with a score of 2.56% points.

“It was a lot of my mindset. There were three different events overall, and it was just all about me keeping my mind on shooting and the particular thing that I was doing at that moment,” Bogle said. “Competitions like that can kind of throw me a little bit because I’m used to shooting in smaller groups with just my team or a few other people. It’s sometimes hard for me to remember that I need to keep my rhythm, but I think I did okay with it this time.”

The Metz brothers got interested in competing later than Bogle and began training just a few months prior to nationals.

Even with the limited practice, Bogle and them formed a team that was able to advance from the state competition in Fort Wayne, to the regional competition in French Lick, all the way to the national competition in Nebraska.

“I showed an interest in moving forward and competing, and my coaches were really on board with that and were really supportive,” Bogle said. “We made a team and went to the state competition and won there and made it to regionals and were able to get to nationals.”

At nationals, Andrew placed 42nd out of the 55 competitors, and Brandon placed 45th. Andrew finished with a score of 1.97% points, and Brandon ended with a score of 1.83% points.

As a team, the trio placed 11th out of 13 teams with a combined score of 6.38% points.

“There are groups that practice three or four times a week and all year round, while our kids only get one time a week,” Cochard said. “Once they got out there, though, Emma did great, and the boys did as well as they did, and they have only been practicing for a few months. I think they did a great job for where they are at.”

A 10-year member of 4-H, Bogle began shooting air pistols a few years ago, but it wasn’t until recently that she got the itch to shoot competitively. That drive came from her coaches, Cochard and Bill Jordan.

“I started with pistol several years ago, and I found that I just really love everything about it. It’s very calming for me, and I love that,” Bogle said. “My coaches would always talk about how fun these competitions would be, so I went out and began doing them. At first, I was really nervous, but I really loved doing it, so I just want to thank my coaches for pushing me and giving me the opportunity to go and compete.”

Over the multi-day competition, Bogle and the Metz brothers were tested in three different areas.

The first day, they competed in the rapid fire section, where they had just three seconds to lift their pistol, aim, and shoot the target before it was flipped over. On day two, they took part in the silhouettes competition where they were scored on the ability to shoot little metal animal silhouettes of different sizes and at various distances. The last day, they were scored on their slow-fire accuracy, where they had 40 shots to hit a full-size target as many times as they could.

“It was awesome,” Bogle said. “I heard a little bit about going to nationals from my coaches last year when I was shooting, but I didn’t get the opportunity to go, so I was super excited this year when we made it as a team.”

Along with the trip to Nebraska for nationals this past season, the trio traveled to Colorado to compete in the Junior Olympics. The trip to Colorado was fully sponsored by coach Cochard’s dad, while a few other community groups helped sponsor the trip to nationals.