DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
SMITHWICK — While it’s one of the newest 4-H clubs in the area, that didn’t stop the Cow Creek members from earning numerous honors at the 2014 Texas 4-H Shooting Sports Extravaganza on April 26 in Brownwood.
“I’m so proud of them,” said club manager and head coach Aaron Ables. “They did a great job, especially considering since many of them hadn’t picked up a shotgun before we started the club last year.”
The Cow Creek 4-H Club specializes in shotgun shooting — particularly American trap and American skeet. At the Extravaganza, in the American trap competition, club members earned first and second in junior class; first, second and seventh in intermediate class; and third and fourth in senior class. In the American skeet competition, club members finished first and second in the junior class; first, third and sixth in the intermediate class; and second and fifth in the senior class.
The trip to Brownwood and the club all started because Ables wanted to introduce his sons, Larron and Braedon, to hunting with a shotgun. He then realized there were many other area youth who could benefit from the activity as well.
“When I grew up, we hunted everything,” Ables said. “We hunted with rifles and shotguns. You just don’t see that anymore, it’s pretty much all rifles.”
One of the boys asked his dad, “Dad, have you ever thought of starting a shotgun program here?”
With no such youth program in Burnet County, Ables dug into his own pockets to become a certified 4-H shotgun instructor. But shotgunning isn’t a cheap sport — especially in the competitive arena. A round of skeet or trap could easily cost $25-$30 just for fees and ammunition. So, Ables began to look for a group or an organization to help support the Cow Creek club. This eventually led him to the Mule Deer Foundation, which responded to one of Ables’ letters seeking help. From there, Ables formed the Burnet County Chapter of the Mule Deer Foundation, which, in turn, began supporting the Cow Creek 4-H Club.
The shotgun sport falls under the Mule Deer Foundation’s youth education program called M.U.L.E.Y., which stands for Mindful. Understanding. Legal. Ethical Youth.
In October 2013, the Cow Creek 4-H Club held its first practice. And, for some of the youth, it was their introduction to shotgunning.
“Shooting a shotgun is a lot different than shooting a rifle,” Ables explained. “For one thing, you keep both eyes open. And you have to follow through with the shotgun and merge its path with the (clay pigeon’s) path. It’s a different skill. You also have to remember it’s very unnatural because, basically, you have this explosion going off just a few inches from your eyes.”
Yet, the youth really jumped in and began developing their shotgunning skills. The club holds regular practices at the ranch of Gib Lewis, the former Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.
“Mr. Lewis has been great opening up his ranch to us,” Ables said.
The club is preparing for another meet to give some of the youth who couldn’t attend the Extravaganza a chance to compete.
“Yeah, they learn about shooting, but they learn so many other life skills through the the sport and the club,” Ables added.
Contact Ables at (214) 449-4824 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.