Texas County has a rich tradition producing successful competitive shooters.
The latest entry onto that list is Cabool resident Brighton Hutson, who helped Team Missouri place third in a field of 27 squads in shotgun competition at the 2021 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships, June 20-25 in Grand Island, Neb.
“It’s exciting,” Hutson said. “It took a lot of practice.”
There are three disciplines in 4-H shotgun shooting: Sporting clays, skeet and trap. Team Missouri placed fifth in sporting clays on day one of the competition, then finished seventh in skeet on day two and fifth in trap on day three.
Hutson, 17, placed 33rd out of 108 shooters in the individual overall standings, finishing tied for 36th in sporting clays, tied for 37th in skeet and tied for 42nd in trap. He is the fourth member of the Texas County 4-H Shooting Sports program to qualify for Nationals in the past five years.
Team Missouri’s shotgun participants at Nationals consisted of the top overall performers at four qualifying events staged at venues around the state. After shooting in numerous practices and qualifiers dampened by rain (or even snow), they faced dry but very windy conditions in Nebraska.
“I wasn’t expecting the wind,” Hutson said. “It made things harder.”
Hutson has used a Browning Citori Universal Hi-Post over-and-under style 12 gauge shotgun for about two years, and was Team Missouri’s second-ranked qualifier. He said the experience of competing at such a high level was certainly something new.
“It’s a lot to handle,” Hutson said. “You get nervous and it’s hard to stay focused with everyone around.”
Hutson’s mother, Melinda Hutson, has been the Texas County 4-H Shooting Sports shotgun instructor for about seven years. She said this year’s Team Missouri group came to Nationals with high expectations after consistently posting high scores in preceding events.
“They were tremendously higher than usual,” Melinda said. “We expected them to do well, and they did.”
By qualifying for 4-H Nationals in shotgun, Brighton followed in the footsteps of his brother, Travis, who made it in 2017. Both shooters began when they were about 5 years old with guidance from their grandfather, Roy Byse (Melinda’s father).
“I’m super proud of both of them,” Melinda said. “It takes a lot of practice and dedication.”
“It has been an amazing blessing and opportunity to get to watch both of our sons compete on a national scale,” said Brighton’s father Floyd Hutson, “using their God given gifts and exercising the rights that have been given to us by our Creator.”
Melinda said 9,068 miles were put on her vehicle in traveling to various practices and qualifying events leading up to Brighton’s big trip to Nebraska.
“Shooting sports isn’t much different than any other traveling sport,” Floyd said. “It takes a commitment of the family to support the athlete and try to help equip them to use the talents that God has given them. Hopefully in the process helping to shape responsible young adults and leaders that will one day lead our communities and country.”
Brighton will be a senior at Cabool High School in the upcoming school year, and after he turns 18 and “ages out” of 4-H, he plans to shoot for a college that also offers a degree in engineering.
Melinda said 4-H Shooting Sports teaches kids about sportsmanship, morale, camaraderie and safety, as well as shooting.
“Whenever they’re out there, they’re building each other up,” she said. “And shooting sports provides an opportunity for lifelong friendships and is something you can continue to do for a lifetime – competitively or just for fun.”