High school junior moves on to nationals in trapshooting
TONICA — Add “state champion” to the list of sharpshooting honors for Cole Haynes of rural Tonica.
Haynes missed only three shots out of 100 to claim the 2019 State 4-H Shotgun Shoot championship this fall at the Brittany Shooting Park in Bunker Hill.
“The first round, I hit 23 out of 25, which for me, that’s not very good. My second box, I had a perfect box, 25,” he said. After lunch, he hit all 25 clay pigeons from a box, giving him 50 in a row. “In trap shooting, that’s pretty big to hit 25 twice in a row.”
Four of Cole’s teammates also participated at the state meet south of Springfield, and his dad and mom, Tricia and Tommie, attended as spectators. Tommie said fellow competitors and spectators start to pay attention when someone’s on the verge of a “straight 25.”
The Bailey Creek 4-H Club member (and longtime president) closed out with 24 out of 25, finishing with his personal-best score of 97.
Tommie said he, personally, has had a straight-25, but only once, and never a 50. He said his son wants to get a straight-75 patch next.
“I like the challenge of setting goals and working on it all season,” Cole said.
He’s the first LaSalle County 4-H member to place in the state competition, let alone win the champion buckle, his mom noted. He hit 94 targets to finish eighth last year at state. The championship has earned him a place at the national 4-H shoot in Nebraska next June.
Nationals has become the next big target for him — in addition to keeping sharp by practicing with his dad; hunting in the fall and winter, and competing with the LaSalle County team in spring. Tommie said he and his son shoot approximately 100 targets per evening in a pasture near the house.
Haynes is not only Illinois’ reigning 4-H sharpshooter with a 12-gauge shotgun, but this past spring he was named to the TEACH Outdoors team, becoming a mentor to teach the LaSalle County shooting sports team members and other 4-H’ers about safety in the outdoors and with and around firearms.
Haynes is a junior at LaSalle-Peru Township High School, where he also competes on the bass fishing team. He is the grandson of Marseilles’ Don and Karen Stillwell and of John Durdan of the Leonore area.
Since he was in third grade, he has been an officer in the Bailey Creek 4-H club, which meets at his grandfather’s building in Leonore.
More than 3,600 4-H members participate in one of the five 4-H shooting sports disciplines. Each fall, the oldest of those members compete in four state contests to determine the state winners and delegates to the National 4-H Shooting Sports Competition.
The shooting sports project teaches the responsible and safe handling of firearms, according to the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension service. Members must be involved in a club led by a certified volunteer who has completed the National 4-H Shooting Sports training.