October 4, 2006 | By: Laura Skillman

Catherine Lacy may be only 16, but that didn’t stop her from becoming the women’s world champion in the Remington Nitro 27 Handicap at the 2006 Grand American Amateur Trapshooting Association Competition in Sparta, Ill.

Catherine, who put her skills to the test against people twice her age, attributes that recent win and other successes in trapshooting to the Todd County 4-H Shooting Sports Club. For seven years, she has been a member of the shooting sports team, learning safety, sportsmanship and shooting skills.

Catherine is just one example of how young people can learn responsibility and gain leadership skills through the 4-H shooting sports program. Many 4-H programs across the state offer a shooting sports program. In Todd County, the program began 12 years ago when Lee Ann McCuiston became the county’s 4-H youth development agent for the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

“In Todd County, we are mostly rural and we have a lot of people out there hunting anyway, and shooting sports really emphasizes safety. It teaches the children safety and responsibility in handling a gun,” McCuiston said. “Sportsmanship and goal setting also tie into this. It’s not all about winning. It’s about how you get there. We really try to make sure that they have positive attitudes. Sportsmanship and a positive attitude are what are needed to get along in life.”

Catherine said she decided to give shooting sports a try after Linda Cox, club leader, came to the school and invited students to join 4-H and the shooting sports program.

“Daddy had an old shotgun and I shot at a can and then a dirt pile,” she said. “It is different from everything else and I just really like it. It’s something that I like to do on my own; it’s not something I’ve been made to do. You get to meet all kinds of people. Usually if people try it, they want to do it again.”

Trapshooting has long been a part of club leader Cox’s life. The range used for practice by the 4-H program was constructed on her family farm. Cox and all shooting sports club leaders undergo a training program prior to working with the youth.

“We stress safety first and then we work on accuracy,” she said. “I do shoot, myself, but we have so many other people who are more professional other than me, so we have them come and help with the coaching. I’m an encourager.”

Cox said she was standing on the shooting line with Catherine on one side and her son on the other when Lacy won the national competition, defeating a longtime champion.

“It was a good day for me,” she said. “Of course, they both beat me.”

Cox said she encourages all counties to consider having a shooting sports program. If a youth is interested but his county does not have a program, he can join a club in a neighboring county that does have one.

“Not all kids are shaped to play football or basketball,” she said. “In this sport, you can be small, you can be huge. We’ve had them compete on crutches, and one year at the state competition, a child in a wheelchair competed. It is just wonderful.”

Catherine’s enthusiasm for the sport has gotten her father, Perry, involved in trapshooting, and her mother, Sheila, travels to the competitions as well.

“When she first came home and told me she wanted to shoot trap, I didn’t know what trap was,” Perry Lacy said. “First time she shot it, it scared her. Then she calmed down and we tried it some more.”

Gradually, Catherine got better and better at the sport, which involves a series of clay targets that are randomly thrown into the air by a machine. The shooter never knows the direction of the target until it is released into the air.

“The 4-H program is a great avenue for kids to learn how to handle a firearm correctly, to be safe with it – out here safety is the No. 1 goal for us – and for the kids to have a good time,” Perry Lacy said. “It’s not all about the competition.”

The disciplines included in the 4-H shooting sports program are shotgun (12 and 20 gauge); rifle (.22 cal. Bolt action, Air and BB); pistol (Air and .22 cal.); muzzleloader (Rifle and Pistol); archery (Compound Bare and Recurve, Bow Hunter and Target); and hunter challenge.


Lee Ann McCuiston, 270-265-5659