By Clint Parker
Sandy Mush – The Sandy Mush 4-H Club’s shooting team made it into the pages of a national magazine during the fourth quarter of last year. Traditions, a publication of the National Rifle Association (NRA) Foundation, published quarterly, featured the club in a two page article.
Asked how the Sandy Mush 4-H group caught the eye of the national magazine, John Galvin, who leads the club’s shooting sports activity, told the Leader, “The answer to your question as to how we appeared on the radar screen of the National NRA folks is that the Western North Carolina NRA Field Rep. Doug Merrill nominated us to be featured in the 4th quarter edition of the 2018 NRA Traditions Magazine.
Who is Doug Merrill? Galvin says Merrill is the NRA Senior Field Representative for WNC. “I have… [to] explain a little better what Doug Merrill with the NRA does for us and other groups in Western North Carolina,” Galvin said. “His title is NRA Senior Field Representative and he conducts the Friends of NRA events that raise the funds in WNC that are awarded through grants from The NRA Foundation. He also sits on a board of NRA members that awards the grant that we received.”
Galvin said after being nominated he sent a letter to the publication’s editor. In the letter Galvin told the editor that the club was more than just a bunch of good shots, hence the title of the article, “More Than Marksmanship” (see sidebar story this page). In his email to the magazine’s editor, Galvin explained about the 4-H’s shooting sports team and their accomplishments, including:
• Regional tournament – Senior Pistol team* 1st place, Senior Rifle team 2nd place.
• State tournament – Senior Pistol team* 3rd place, Senior Rifle team 1st place.
• Two members competed on the 2017 NC Small Bore Pistol Team at the 4-H National Tournament. This team finished 1st in the nation, sweeping all 3 events.
• The team also competes in Archery and, in Senior Compound Archery, a member received 1st place individual competition. One member will also be competing this year on the NC Compound Archery team at the National Tournament in July.
Besides the help received from Merrill, Galvin also pointed out others who help make the club’s shooting team possible such as Jackie Gillespie, Sandy Mush 4-H club leader, “She pulls the group together and makes everything happen,” said Galvin about Gillespie. Also David West, former shooting sports coach. “My shooting sports program mentor and the man that started this successful program,” Galvin explained.
Galvin also mentioned Craig Worley, “…an experienced and very dedicated 4-H shooting sports coach, we practice shooting on his property.” And Travis Plemmons, another shooting sports coach and parent “…that helps me pull together the operations of shooting sports practice.”
Sandy Mush 4-H Club was started in February 1978, by Sandra Reeves, the wife of former Buncombe County Extension Director Kenneth Reeves, and she served as club leader for many years. Galvin took over the club in 2011. “We currently have 46 members enrolled. There was a club in Sandy Mush back in the 1950’s and 60’s through the school system, but that club eventually became inactive,” said Galvin. “Since the current club was started through NC Extension we have been continuously active for 40 years.
The club meets once a month at the Sandy Mush Fire Dept for a meal, a club business meeting, then an educational speaker.
There are two classes in the National 4-H shooting program. Juniors are aged 9 to 14 and seniors are aged 14 to 18. Only seniors are allowed to shoot in the rimfire pistol class.