Winning the 4-H National Shooting Sports Championship in Grand Island Nebraska was quite a thrill for Haley, Nicole, Elissa, and me. We all agreed it was an awesome event and took a lot of practice and determination for us all to get there.
Part of the duties required from of each member of a 4-H Rifle Team, who made the trip, was to have each shooter write a 500+ word essay.
This paper would express what is was like to attend this nationwide competition. Each of us recently submitted our written papers to Officials at the Somerset County 4-H Office.
My Dad, Aaron Korenoski a Pro Truck Driver, teased me and my grandparents before leaving for Nebraska by saying he’d strap our Tahoe to his flat-bed trailer and drive us all out to Grand Island on his big-rig “Ole Blue”.
He often drove to Florida, California and the Mid-West states. Dad said, “Heck, I was just in Iowa and I could have dropped you guys off.” Unfortunately, my Dad never got the chance to take us to Nebraska.
I was so happy when he attended my Rifle Competitions. Mom and I had a great time with Dad when he drove us to the Palmyra Sportsman’s Club near Harrisburg for my Jerome Jr Rifle Team competition.
My 4-H Gold Medal Essay follows below:
My name is Ruby Korenoski, I’m a 4-year member of both the Conemaugh Township High School Small-bore Rifle Team and the Jerome Junior Rifle Team and this year I joined the Somerset County 4-H Rifle Team.
My love for the outdoors, especially shooting, started from a very young age. I’ve been shooting BB guns, pellet guns, 22’s and bow and arrows since First Grade.
When I was 9 years old, my Grandfather helped me start a website called “Ruby’s Outdoor Rendezvous” (www.RORUSA.com).
My goal was to showcase videos, photos, stories, and events from all my Outdoor Adventures to share with other kids my age.
The success of my website drew the attention of a big-time optics company called Riton, based in Phoenix, Arizona. I even landed a job with them to promote their scopes and binoculars on my website.
Earlier this year, the Somerset County 4-H Rifle Coach, Mike Knapp, presented me and my Jerome Rifle team mates, Haley, Nicole, and Elissa, with the opportunity to compete at the Pennsylvania State 4-H competition.
We were excited to be named to the 4-H Team and we jumped at the offer to shoot at the Shenecoy Sportsman’s Club Range this past April.
After shooting the 3-P match with our small-bore rifles we all felt we had made a good showing. A week later we were informed that our team won the PA State 4-H Championship.
Our scores made it clear that we would be eligible to travel to Grand Island, Nebraska for the National 4H Shooting Sports Competition in June.
We were really anxious to attend this big nation-wide competition. We only had a few months to practice, practice, practice; and that’s exactly what we did.
Our supportive coaches and families met us at the Jerome Club Range, three times a week, for an extensive shooting regime.
We were not familiar with the Steel Silhouette or the CMP “rapid fire” event, and we were rookies with the new and different rifles that were required.
Mike Knapp is our respected coach and we couldn’t have made so much progress, in a short amount of time, without his guidance, experience and enthusiasm. Coach Knapp had been at this national 4-H competition several years ago and he had us all ready and excited to go out west.
However, a few short weeks before the Nebraska competition, a tragedy took place in my family. My amazing, hardworking, loving father passed away unexpectedly, of a massive heart attack, while on the road in Joplin, Missouri.
My Dad was an over the road truck driver and he owned his own rig, a Peterbilt, he called “Ole Blue”.
In the weeks to follow, I was so sad and my motivation for shooting declined. But, I knew in my heart my Dad would’ve wanted me to be strong and to go ahead and compete.
I never could have imagined the pain of losing someone so close to me. My heart ached each day, but I persevered until the day we set off on our 17 hour journey.
Ever since I was a little girl, I loved hearing my Dad’s stories about the miles he drove each week, crisscrossing America.
As we traveled towards Nebraska, down the highways in Ohio, Illinois, and Iowa, I saw the scenery he drove through. I looked out the window and felt as if my Dad was with me, giving me strength.
I believed I’d need his help to endure the week of strenuous shooting in the heat and winds of Grand Island, Nebraska.
The day we arrived at the Heartlands Event Arena, to register for the competition, we realized how serious the agenda for this week would be. There were six hundred individual shooters from 32 different states there, all with the same goal in mind as us – winning a Gold Medal in their shooting events.
I was surprised to see how many kids across America shared the love of shooting that I do.
The events my team participated in included, 22 Rifle Silhouettes, 10-22 semi-auto CMP, and Small-Bore 22 precision shooting. Of course us girls were aiming for a 1st Place in all events, but we shared the same mindset that where ever we placed in the competition, would be an accomplishment in itself.
Shooting the steel silhouettes in high winds was a shock to us all. In Pennsylvania the wind speed was nowhere near as high as it was in Nebraska. Some Ram targets blew over in the strong gusts.
The weather is always a factor, a breeze can move your bullets off course, but it didn’t keep us from shooting to the best of our abilities. Our team ended up winning a 5th place ribbon. That was an awesome accomplishment.
Next came CMP, it wasn’t our strong suit among the three events, and most of us never fired these 22 Auto-loading rifles before this year. But, we ended up in 10th place and participating in this event was a really cool experience.
Finally, on our last day, we got to shoot in the event we love the most, the 3-Position Olympic style match. We set up our gear and thankfully, after witnessing the skill the other shooters displayed, it made us more determined to shine.
We mentally prepared ourselves and as we laid down in our positions, our level of experience was apparent to the Range Safety Officers. They were impressed with our composure and told our coach that we were all well trained. Those compliments gave us some extra confidence.
We pulled through as a team, and we earned a First Place in 3-P. The feeling of pride to be called up on the large stage, in front of hundreds of spectators and fellow 4H members, for our Gold Medals, was like no other.
The kids cheered us and the sound of the crowd’s applause was thrilling. We wore our Gold medals with pride.
We could see our parents, grandparents, coaches and even some friends we met along the way, all smiling. They were proud of us, too.
The 4H National competition taught me many things.
First of all, I learned that hard work and patience pays off.
Secondly, it taught me to always keep a positive attitude in the face of adversity.
Lastly, never back down to a challenge, always take the risk and persevere, even in your darkest times.
The loss of my Dad weighed on me each day, and I wanted to make him proud. If I hadn’t of gone, I would have let my teammates down and I never would have experienced this event of a lifetime.
Winning a Gold Medal, during this devastating time, showed me that with focus and dedication I could accomplish anything.
The good sportsmanship, teamwork and togetherness displayed at the 4-H shooting sports competition was like nothing I’ve seen before.
This experience was something I will never forget for the rest of my life.