Oregon Observer - 7/17/2014

Focused on fun

Mighty Mite fires off shells and smiles during fair

Samantha Christian

Unified Newspaper Group

“Don’t Be Hatin’ Because I Shoot Like A Girl,” is printed in bold letters on the neon yellow shirt worn by Faith Majors-Culp. The 14-year-old steps to the line in her pink shoes, hair tie and ear protectors, yells “pull” and fires off five rounds with her shotgun at the Stoughton Conservation Club.

Majors-Culp was not intimidated by the boys next to her while shooting trap, one of eight classes she entered for the Dane County Fair last month. The other events included outdoor 3D archery, indoor archery, muzzleloader, .22 pistol, air pistol, .22 rifle and air rifle.

Although the fair officially kicked off Wednesday and runs through Sunday at the Alliant Energy Center, some competitions were held early. Nearly 130 youths, from third-graders to recent high school graduates participated in shooting sports this year, but not many tallied up the number of events Majors-Culp did.

In fact, she would have competed in all nine, but does not yet qualify for skeet because of her age and inexperience in trap. She intends to add it to the list in two years.

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A five-year member of the Brooklyn Mighty Mites 4-H Club, Majors-Culp has quickly progressed in the sport, adding events each year. This year was her first time shooting shotgun trap and .22 pistol. She even took reserved champion in air rifle.

But Majors-Culp isn’t focused on the score; she just wants to learn and have fun. Her positive attitude was especially present during the last event of the day – indoor archery.

She held a serious and quiet demeanor while aiming with her bow, but as soon as an arrow was released, she was all smiles – whether or not she hit the target.

“My aim was so bad when I first started,” she joked, noting that through the years, she’s updated her bow to include a sight, release and stabilizer. “Now it’s just breathing control and focusing and having fun. Mostly having fun though. If you don’t smile, you’re not going anywhere. I try to have my friends with me so I actually smile.”

Seated behind her in the cramped room were her closest friends, Caitlin Beyler and Cole Xander. When the arrows had finished smacking the targets and the whistle was blown after each of the 12 rounds, she turned to them for support and a few laughs to help remind her to enjoy the sport.

In fact, it was watching Beyler participate in archery and air rifle in 2008 that led Majors-Culp to get involved with 4-H in the first place. An only child, she considers Beyler and Xander as the closest she’ll ever get to siblings.

“They’re the ones I mainly hang out with, they’re just a blast,” she said.

After the archery event, she leaned over the scorekeeper’s shoulder to sneak a peek at her results.

“That’s the best I’ve ever done!” she beamed, quickly scribbling the score 251 with 11 X’s on the back of her target.

New popularity

Archery participation has seen a definite increase in recent years, said fair spokesperson Janet Keller. The popularity of the bow-wielding character from the book and movie series “The Hunger Games” may be one contributing factor, but Majors-Culp said that’s not the reason she started.

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“I think it’s kind of cool they (have) a movie with a girl doing archery, but a lot of people think (we) do archery because Katniss is doing archery,” she said. “We do it because it’s fun and it’s our thing. We were doing it before (‘The Hunger Games’).”

Her favorite events are shooting trap and muzzleloading.

“All my instructors are great, so if I had to choose one I couldn’t,” she said.

While she admitted she wasn’t on her game during the previous trap shooting event, she said the score matters but it’s not the biggest deal “as long as I have fun.” She certainly had fun in another muzzleloader event two weeks prior to the pre-fair competition.

Majors-Culp and Xander competed in River Falls on June 14 for a qualifier to the National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitational, which will be held in Nebraska next June. They should find out the results by Christmas, but only four people will be chosen to move on from Wisconsin.

The incoming Oregon High School freshman will be making a second trip to Pierce County at the end of August. She was recently notified that her essay and application to participate in a youth bear hunt with someone with the Wisconsin DNR was accepted.

“There’s not a lot of girls that hunt, and I wanted to get into bigger game,” Majors-Culp said, adding that she got her first deer last year gun hunting.

She is used to being busy, having competed in swimming and lacrosse in middle school and has been practicing nearly year-round for shooting events. Majors-Culp is not finished with 4-H events, however, as she plans to show dairy cattle for the first year and chickens for the second year at the fair this week.

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