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Todd County 4-H'er among 35 Minnesotans at National Shooting Sports Invitational

By Carol Stender

Date Modified: 07/30/2013 10:48 AM

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LONG PRAIRIE, Minn. —Todd County 4-Her Austin Claseman was among 35 4-Hers who represented Minnesota at the National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitational in Grand Island, Neb. last month.

Claseman, who participated in the archery competition, placed 87 out of 97 in the first round and 68 out of 97 in the third. While he couldn't remember his second round score, Claseman said he was thrilled to be part of the national event.

He applied to be part of Minnesota's team for the national invitational. Claseman is 18 and will be too old to compete next year.

The Minnesota youth competing in the national event represented 15 counties.

Competitors shot in three events over three days. One day involved a field course and competitors shot at a target another day. They also shot a 3-D course. which was his best event, he said.

He's come quite a way with the bow and arrow from the Little Bear recurve bow he received from his father, Dion, when Claseman was just seven years old.

"We are a family that does a lot of things together," said Austin's stepmother, Amy. "We drill into the guys about safety no matter what outdoor sport we are doing."

His older brother, Nathaniel, was the first to enroll in shooting sports and Claseman quickly followed. As his skills developed, Claseman moved on to other bows and, at the national competition, he used a Bear compound bow called "Encounter."

He is a member of Todd County's Prairie Sharpshooter 4-H Club. The Prairie Sharpshooters has 18 to 22 members from throughout the county, Amy said.

The Minnesota 4-H Shooting Sports and Wildlife Program got started in the 1980s and has grown to 4,000 members and 500 adult leaders. The 4-H members taking part in the program become involved in air rifle and air pistol, archery, rifle, muzzleloader, shotgun and wildlife.

The Clasemans, an outdoors family, got involved with the Todd County club when an adult leader, Jeff Berg, invited them to a meeting.

As a third grader, Claseman learned to use a BB gun. First-year members are required to have 15 hours of behind-the-line shooting and 15 hours of wildlife classes. The second year also requires wildlife training and eight hours behind the line shooting.

Claseman will take post-secondary classes at Bemidji State University this fall. He'd like to compete in other shooting sports events once he graduates from the 4-H program.