Burnet County 4-H rifle team competes at Junior Olympics qualifier match


BURNET — McKenzie Boop and Katelyn Hensley, members of the Burnet County 4-H Youth Precision Rifle Team, competed at the USA Shooting Sports Junior Olympic Qualifier Match at Texas Christian University’s range in Fort Worth on Jan. 12.

The field consisted of some of the top shooters in the country, including members of the TCU team. TCU’s squad is considered one of the best nationally and features Katie Bridges, a 2013 graduate of Marble Falls High School and Hensley’s former teammate.

And though Boop and Hensley’s scores weren’t high enough to qualify for the Junior Olympics, both accomplished plenty.

Coach Guy Taylor said their purpose was to set some scores to use as future goals.

“Both McKenzie and Bryer have improved remarkably well and learned from the experience,” he said.

One year ago, Hensley had reconstructive shoulder surgery and spent seven months in rehabilitation.

“Katelyn worked for months building strength to begin shooting again but had a difficult time at first handling the rifle and getting into positions,” Taylor said. “We knew when we went up there that winning or qualifying was going to be difficult. Our purpose there was to learn from the experience of shooting in a highly-ranked match, shoot on the expensive and accurate electronic targets, and enjoy the moment. Katelyn has worked hard and deserved the reward and experience.”

One particular Hensley sequence impressed her coach. On her 11th attempt in the standing position, she marked a high 4.8, and Taylor saw her shoulders sink. The actual target is only one-inch wide and on the range.

“Many shooters on the firing line that day gave up when they made such a shot,” he said. “As a coach, I always teach our shooters to look at each shot as an individual shot, learn from a bad shot, and recover to make a better shot next time. I watched her to see how that shot affected her.”

On her 12th attempt, she marked a 10.8, a tenth of a point away from perfection.

“Those of us watching like to hit the roof,” Taylor said. “That was a great recovery … a great moment for her and all of us.”

The Burnet County 4-H Rifle Team includes Alex Defily of Faith Academy, Boop, Bryer Atkinson of Marble Falls, Axy Horner of Burnet, Clayton Peay of Burnet and other first-year shooters.

Taylor said a lack of funding has forced organizers to limit the team members to 15.

“We have a pretty extensive waiting list of youth in this community who want to get on the team,” he said. “Unless they have their own equipment, which can cost several thousands of dollars, it’s difficult because we have very limited resources.”

The team also is in need of a building to use as an indoor range.

“We would like to add an additional range that can be used for the Junior Olympic-style shooting, at night and in all weather conditions,” Taylor said. “All you need is a little space and small amount of funding and you have opportunities, especially for kids.”

Contact Taylor at gtaylor@zeecon.com for more information.