LUSK – Niobrara County 4-H Shooting Sports participant Cody Taylor was recently honored for the quality of work he put forth in his 4-H record book with a trip to Raton, New Mexico.
Just outside of Raton is the National Rifle Association’s Whittington Center. The center is a unique range of “more than 33,300 acres and 25 ranges…devoted to shooting for any kind of discipline.”
Kenny Jensen, 4-H leader for Niobrara County Shooting Sports, told the Herald he is very proud of Taylor’s accomplishments.
“Cody is one of my most consistent and better shooters,” Jensen said. “He worked hard, and it all paid off.
“I’m just glad it was his little brother that taught him how to shoot,” Jensen joked.”
Taylor spent the past six years working up to this opportunity. During the past year, he spent countless hours training for shooting sports competitions within 4-H.
“I went to state shoot and tried to place high enough at state shoot in some different events to be able to go to Raton,” Taylor said. “The top 14 or 15 shooters at state get to go to Raton.”
Taylor performed well at state shoot, but not as well as he would have liked. Taylor didn’t let this get him down. He knew he had another opportunity to make the Raton trip a reality. He began working tirelessly on his record book in hopes it would seal the deal on his dream.
“I didn’t place high enough with the shooting stuff, so there’s two kids each year that get to go each year for how well they do on their shooting sports records books. That’s how I got in.”
Taylor was one of two participants in the state of Wyoming who completed his record book and turned it in. A girl, whose name he didn’t recall, had also turned her record book in and the two guaranteed their place among those to attend the Raton trip.
After learning he had earned the opportunity to go on the trip and enjoy the Whittington Center, he began preparing to make the trip.
“They set up the time of meeting to go and we got all of our guns together and went down there.” Taylor said.
Taylor met up with the rest of the trip honorees in Laramie and they all headed down to Raton together. Taylor said he really enjoyed the drive down there, despite the drive being extended another hour and a half for a traffic accident on the interstate.
Once they arrived, Taylor and the others were treated a great time in a safe environment.
“It’s just a fun shoot; it’s not a competition or anything. You have to bring your own ammo and a lot of your own guns, but they bring some too.”
While at the Whittington Center, Taylor and the rest of the trip participants spent their time on the range shooting a variety of firearms for the next three days.
“In the morning we would go shoot shotgun. In the afternoon we would go shoot .22 rifle and pistol at a different range,” Taylor said. “We did black powder, .22, long range rifle, shotgun; pretty much all the different guns.”
Taylor said he greatly enjoyed the opportunity but the relationships he made while down there were his favorite experience.
“Hanging out with other kids and having fun,” Taylor said. “I had never been down there either, so that was kind of fun. The trip down there was pretty fun.”
Taylor said his favorite memory of the trip was getting to shoot a firearm he never had before.
“I never shot a lever-action 30-30 and that was pretty dang fun,” Taylor said. “The experience of (shooting) an old gun that was around in the 1800s, kind of a little history feeling, and it was a big fun gun to shoot; a big bang.”
Taylor’s last year in 4-H was this past year. Despite leaving, he provided some advice for those who continue to participate and will be participating in shooting sports in the future.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Taylor said. “So, just have fun with it and be safe. Safety is first then have fun, in that order. If you’re safe, then you have a lot of fun. You don’t have to worry about others or yourself hurting anybody.”
Taylor said safety was what made the Raton trip so successful.
“That’s a big thing that was fun down there,” he said. “They’re all older kids. They all have been to state shooting sports for probably five or 10 years, they’re really safe and really good. We didn’t have any safety problems down there.”
Taylor said this next year he is still eligible for 4-H and he was selected for the national 4-H shooting sports competition. He said he may be doing the national 4-H shoot, but he doesn’t know yet.
In summary, Taylor said the Raton trip was a great experience and he hopes others will be inspired to try hard and make the same trip he did.
“It was a great trip,” he said. “It’s definitely something to shoot for.”