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Taylor Duncan with pink rifle
TAKE AIM: Warren County 4-Her Taylor Duncan enjoys 4-H shooting sports. Last year, she learned how to load and shoot a .22-caliber rifle.

Becoming a sharpshooter at age 8

4-H Week: The youngest Duncan family member's first 4-H project was shooting sports.

Editor’s note: This week, Oct. 7-13, is National 4-H Week. For the next five days we will celebrate by introducing you to the Duncans, a first-generation 4-H family in Warren County who are taking projects ranging from welding to poultry and everything in between. First up, the youngest Duncan, Taylor, who has her sights set on shooting sports.

It may be bright pink and pack a pretty good pop for a tiny 8-year-old girl, but Taylor Duncan can shoot her .22-caliber rifle sitting, kneeling or lying down.

"When you are kneeling, you rest your gun on your knee," she explains. "Sitting, we hold it up, and laying down we rest our elbow on the ground and hold it up."

Taylor, a member of the Camp Branch 4-H Club in Warren County, just finished her first year in 4-H Shooting Sports. She grew up watching her dad, Jay Duncan, firing his gun and wanted to learn the skill as well. So, after two years in Clover Kids when she was finally able to pick her projects, shooting sports were at the top of the list.

Training ground
The dad and daughter duo traveled to Benchrest Rifle Club in nearby Wright City for practice. "It was like every other Sunday from May to July," Taylor says. While there were 4-H rifles that members could use, Taylor wanted her own single shot .22-caliber rifle for the sport, so her dad bought one — a pink one.

Jay was not involved in 4-H as a kid. In fact, the entire Duncan family — four girls, Jay and his wife, Angie — are first-generation 4-Hers. He finds that projects like shooting sports provide parents and kids the chance to spend time together doing something they enjoy or learning something new.

"It is about having quality time with your kids," Jay says. "It is something that sadly is not being done as much nowadays. But 4-H provides that opportunity."

CRAFTY CLUBBER: 4-H arts and crafts project allows club members to display their creative side. Here Taylor Duncan of Camp Branch 4-H shows off a string art project.

Before being able to even hold the rifle, Taylor says, there was a full day of safety. "I think it is good to know about safety and how to handle the gun safely," she says.

Once complete, Taylor was off to learning all the parts of her gun and how to operate it. Then it was on to target practice.

"I like shooting at the paper targets and seeing what I hit," she says.

Taylor has set her sights on participating in 4-H Shooting Sports at the state and national levels. "I want to learn shotgun and compete in that," she says.

Still, shooting sports are not her only 4-H project.

More to 4-H
This year, Taylor plans to enroll in arts and crafts, poultry, leather working and goats. "It is going to be even more fun now that I can have more projects," she says. As a first-year member, 4-Hers are limited to three projects. In year two they can take up to six projects.

Taylor enjoys the time she spends at 4-H meetings where she is the game and song leader. She is particularly fond of the summer party where club members visit the family farm of Jeff and Jennifer Schneider. "They have a lake," Taylor says. "This year they brought out a paddle boat and canoe."

Carey Benne

QUALITY TIME: Jay Duncan (left) stands alongside his youngest daughter Taylor during a 4-H shooting sports practice. He appreciates the value 4-H puts on family.

When she is not busy with 4-H projects, the third grader at Daniel Boone Elementary School is busy playing soccer and softball and attending Awana club at her church.

But you might just find Taylor curled up in the family treehouse reading a good mystery. That is until her dad comes home from work and the two grab the rifles, set up the targets and shoot a while.

Did you miss one of the Duncan five? We have you covered. Click on the links below for more on how this first-generation 4-H family is getting the most out of the organization:

• 4-H proves girls can weld

• 4-H'er sees life through her camera lens

• 4-H'er makes tending animals top priority

• Mom urges parents to be present with kids through 4-H

TAGS: Farm Life
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