General Introduction from Ron Howard

Grimes County is in District 9, which also includes Brazoria (Angleton area), Brazos, Burleson (Caldwell area), Chambers (Anahuac), Fort Bend (Rosenberg), Galveston, Hardin (Kountze), Harris (Houston), Jefferson (Beaumont), Lee (Giddings), Liberty, Madison, Montgomery (Conroe), Orange, San Jacinto (Coldspring), Walker (Huntsville), and Waller (Hempstead) counties. Currently 14 of those counties have Shooting Sports programs of some sort with an emphasis on shotgun and rifle.

Grimes County is currently in a rebuilding phase, with an interested agent and several recently trained leaders. I do not believe that any of them were in archery, but that is easy to fix. Brazos County is just starting an archery club. Madison County had a club in archery, but they have been inactive since Larry Perez moved to Bryan. I believe that Lee County has a f! ew archers and Fort Bend has an active club.

In order to have a club, we require 5 members and one leader as a minimum. Texas 4-H Shooting Sports requires that there be at least one state certified instructor present and in charge any time live firing is taking place under 4-H auspices. Thus training for at least one leader is critical. It is often better to have 2 or 3 in each discipline being offered so the efforts are spread out over more people AND the kids get exposed to other adults. We permit kids to cross county lines for programs for a variety of reasons, including convenience, choice, and lack of a program in the home county. They can only be a member in one county, and they can only represent that county in any competition held by 4-H. So your son  or daughter could be a member in Grimes County and attend Brazos County meetings in something not offered in Grimes County. S/He would be a Grimes County member and would represent that county in matches. Alternatively, s/he could, with agent permission in both counties and an annual exchange of letters, move all 4-H membership to the other county and represent them in events.

We offer a minimum of three full workshops each year - usually September, January and March - and from 6-12 smaller ones generally focused on one or two disciplines. The March Workshop is always (right now) at the Texas 4-H Center in Brownwood. The others are scheduled by invitation. Right now we are working on the September, 2002 and January, 2003 workshops. There will be a January workshop (4-6) in Victoria. If you are interested you can return it in any fashion. We can even have payment follow. I am not pushing here, but trying to beat a likely noon closing of the office tomorrow and an extended holiday break that will not end until January 2. If you want to come, please e-mail your desire to do so and I will send the stuff we just mailed to the others attending. If you are not sure and want to think it over, we can try to get things to you be e-mail with a short fuse when we get back into the office.

We are a youth development program that uses shooting of all kinds to assist kids in becoming what they want to be. Along the way, we are growing some outstanding shooters; but the real benefit is outstanding kids who grow into outstanding adults. We welcome anyone who wants to participate either as play or as a serious passion.

Our archery folks are some of the best I have known, and my archery career was 50 years old this summer. District 11, the one that runs along our west flank from Brenham to Corpus Christi, has the strongest district archery program in the state. They run a series of invitational tournaments in the fall and early winter and are active in the outdoor games as well. Some of their groups are linked with the JOAD (Junior Olympic Archery Development) program. Some are not. A few programs are mostly bowhunters looking for another archery outlet. Most of them are "fun shooters." A few are pressing on toward Olympic competition, and we have some serious threats both among current members and among those who have "graduated" from the program. My dream for archery is to see every district move up to the level of activity seen with folks like Ben and Tom and Dave Marlow and Jim Ross. We just are not quite there yet, and maybe if we reach it in the next 6-8 years I will find som! ething further for the dream. Your interest certainly makes it one step closer to getting the D9 group going.

A few words about NAA. For many years NAA was the sole Olympic governing body. When Lloyd Brown started with Easton Sports Development, he became my right hand nationally in teaching 4-H instructors. Both the current 4-H manual and the NAA level 1 manual came from our interactions with instructors, as did the creation of the Level 2 Trainer program for NAA. We offer dual certification at our workshops, and current NAA instructors can become 4-H instructors very easily, needing the "green injection" and the additional material in the manual. Ours is what I call about an NAA level 1.75 course when taken to its full extent. We have enjoyed this cooperation for many years and expect to see it continue.

Program content includes: NAA type events - 9 and 18 meter indoor - 4-H Basic - beginners' round, watered down from above - FITA Outdoor - Clout - Flight - Team Relay Round (a riot to watch) NFAA events - Field - 3-D Some suggested things we have not yet done include a wand shoot along with clout and flight.

Kids can shoot in a variety of divisions in most events including bare bow, recurve (Olympic bow), compound unaided or freestyle limited, compound aided or freestyle. We have folks shooting the latest hi-tech stuff and kids shooting longbows (and refusing to go to anything else). We try to make it possible for kids of similar ability and equipment constraints to match up with others or their ilk in each event.

This started out to be a short note, but it got really long. I was interrupted five or six times, so the thought train may have been derailed a bit. I did not edit, so if I hit something twice I apologize in advance. This is a great bunch of folks - both kids and adults, with very little negative behavior. I think you will have a wonderful time with us.

Please yell with any questions I might be able to answer.

Ron Howard

Ronald A. Howard Jr., PhD Professor and Extension Specialist - 4-H and Youth
The State 4-H Office
7607 Eastmark Drive,
Suite 101
2473 TAMUS
College Station, TX 77843-2473

Telephone: 979-845-1214 Facsimile: 979-845-6495 E-mail: r-howard1@tamu.edu