GREENE COUNTY, Miss. (WKRG) — A Greene County teen is competing at the 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships in Grand Island, Nebraska this week. He’s the first to represent the county at the competition in 20 years.

16-year-old Tate McLain is one of four 4-H participants to represent Mississippi in the shotgun competition this year.

“I’m a little nervous like always, but I feel pretty good about it. I hope to get number one,” he said.

He qualified by placing in the top four through rounds of skeet, sporting clays, and trap shooting at the state competition last summer. It was his first time competing at state.

Now in his sixth year of participating in the 4-H shooting sports program, McLain has tried to be on the range three days per week to practice over the last few months. While weather conditions and the environment in the midwest create a challenge this week, he says success boils down to a few skills.

“It’s just all about your timing and the way you perform. You can’t focus too hard because, if you do, you overthink it and it’s all a quick reaction really,” he said.

Upwards of 50 youth take part in Greene County 4-H’s shooting sports program each year between shotgun, archery, and hunting skills. They currently practice mostly between private ranges in Greene and Wayne counties but will soon have a range of their own with support from the county’s board of supervisors.

“We’re hoping having a county range will allow us to offer a little bit more. We’re trying to work with our schools to offer shotgun and archery as a sport. So it’s different from 4-H but we’re just trying to get kids involved in general,” said county extension agent Angie Rogers Byrd.

The range, being built next to the Greene Co. Rural Events Center and the new Miss. State Extension office across from the high school, could be finished by the county fair in late October. The 4-H shooting sports season usually starts in January.

The county could soon add rifle and pistol shooting, and possibly muzzleloader, to their offerings, dependent on more adults volunteering and getting trained. Every range must be run by a safety officer or instructor.

“It’s a good program because kids around here are gonna hunt and they’re gonna be around firearms so we want to educate them in the best way possible,” Byrd said.

As for McLain, whether he returns to Mississippi as a national champion shotgun shooter or not, he’s thankful for the experience. He’s excited to cheer on the five others going to the state competition in archery and shotgun next month and show his younger brother the ropes. He’ll also play football as a junior at Greene Co. High School this fall.

“It taught me a lot about gun safety…and gave me a chance to meet a lot of people, make new friends. I like it because it’s just all [on] you really. I mean if you like outdoors, if you like hunting, it’s a great sport to me,” McLain said.

To volunteer or enroll a youth 8 to 18 years old in the shooting sports or other 4-H programs for free in Greene Co., visit their website. The 4-H program is also offered nationally, including Alabama and Florida.