County leads state air rifle shooting team in top scores

From left are Kenny Crenshaw, coach; Ellis Bixler of Cordova; David Crenshaw of Millington; and Jim Todd, 4-H county extension director.
From left are Kenny Crenshaw, coach; Ellis Bixler of Cordova; David Crenshaw of Millington; and Jim Todd, 4-H county extension director. Photo courtesy of Alan Howell photography.

Tennessee’s 4-H Air Rifle Shooting Team, which includes Ellis Bixler, 16, of Cordova, has earned a competitive spot in the 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships on June 26 at Heartland Public Shooting Park in Grand Island, Neb.

The team consists of No. 1 scorer David Crenshaw, 16 and No. 2 scorer Bixler representing Shelby County, as well as Harper Jo Biggs, 16 and Elisabeth Keeler, 17 of Williamson County.

Shelby County coaches are Kenny Crenshaw, president of Herbi-Systems, Inc., and his wife Melissa of North Shelby County.

The home team had to be both skilled and patient in order to clear two competitions and advance to 4-H Nationals. Here’s how the system works: first there is a qualifying competition at the state level.

The spring event, 4-H Air Rifle Jamboree, was held March 28, 2015 in Dickson, Tenn. About 29 shooters from Dickson, Overton, Sequatchie, Weakley, Shelby and Williamson counties participated, according to 4-H Extension Specialist Daniel Sarver who is the state coordinator for the shooting sport.

Crenshaw placed first with a score of 240 out of a possible 300, while Bixler placed second with a score of 214. The winning team received ribbons.

In order to progress from the state qualifying competition, participants had to score at least 200 to be invited to the Oct. 24, 2015 Tennessee 4-H Shooting Sports Invitational, which is the state meet and a national qualifier, at 4-H Camp Ridley held in Columbia.

At this level, competitors were narrowed to an elite seven scorers. Air rifle participants fired 20 shots in prone, standing and kneeling from a distance of 10 meters. Crenshaw again placed first, scoring 523 out of a possible 600, and took home a medal. Bixler came in second with a score of 511. Third and fourth places were taken by Williamson County.

The Top 3 competitors, Crenshaw and Bixler as well as Biggs (score of 507) plus the fourth alternate Keeler (score of 494), will represent Tennessee at the 4-H Nationals in Nebraska.

More than 650 4-H youth, ages 14-18, from across the country will compete during 4-H Nationals in one of nine disciplines including air pistol, archery, hunting, muzzleloader, rifle, and shotgun, according to National Program Coordinator Conrad Arnold.

The winning teams and individual winners will receive medals. The 4-H Shooting Sports Program was officially begun in 1980. Since then, more than 3 million youth and adults have been introduced to shooting and hunting sports. Currently there are more than 400,000 youth, 19,000 adult volunteer leaders and professional extension educators through the Cooperative Extension Service participating in the National 4-H Shooting Sports Program each year.

The National 4-H Shooting Sports Program is active in 46 of the 50 states throughout the U.S. 4-H Programs are directed through each State Land Grant University.