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4-H teams to practice on Research Forest Tract land
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The Effingham County 4-H shooting sports teams are going to have a home for the next year.

The Effingham Industrial Development Authority has agreed to allow 4-H to use some of its land on the Research Forest Tract to set up its practice ranges for archery and trap and skeet shooting.

“The property meets with their needs for their shooting sports, to include outdoor archery,” IDA CEO John Henry said. “They would be able to do what they need to on this area.”

Under the agreement, 4-H will be allowed access to land behind Blandford Elementary School. The school itself won’t be within range of the projectiles fired for target practice.

“We have to practice out of the county for it now,” said Abby Smith, Effingham 4-H agent. “We want to do it here.”

Smith said 4-H wants to get onto the property and clean it up, using a tractor and bush hog to clear the space needed.

Henry said he talked with 4-H coach Ashley Kieffer about land that could be used for shooting sports and he initially threw out using part of the Effingham Industrial Park’s Governor Treutlen tract.

Practices will begin in mid-February. The 4-H state competition is in May, and archery will be held from March through April.

IDA member Chap Bennett cautioned that if a large prospect comes to the IDA and needs land, it might not be best to have it tied with some other purpose.

“In our purpose to put jobs on the ground, we’d have to make that phone call,” he said. “Certain long-range projects ought to be more well-thought out. There may be a place that works better over a long period.”

IDA member Glenn Weston said that recreational uses long have been a part of the Research Forest Tract’s plan.

“We have designated room for recreation,” he said. “It’s always been in the plan, right behind the school.”

Currently, 4-H has 58 participants in archery and about 30-40 in its shotgun competitions. Shotgun sports practice will be Sundays at 2 p.m., and archery practice will be Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

The programs also have grown rapidly, with 18 taking part last year.

“It is a good program,” said IDA chairman Dennis Webb.

The Project SAFE shotgun sports are for students in seventh through 12th grades, and each participant also must have a hunter’s safety card. Archery is open for students in fourth through 12th grades.

All the coaches are certified, Smith added, and the 4-H also wants to include modified trap shooting in the future.