GRAND ISLAND, Nebraska — It was a great week for Luke Barker and the North Carolina 4-H Shooting Sports team out in Grand Island as the Tar Heel bunch captured 2nd place at the 2019 National …
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GRAND ISLAND, Nebraska — It was a great week for Luke Barker and the North Carolina 4-H Shooting Sports team out in Grand Island as the Tar Heel bunch captured 2nd place at the 2019 National Championships on June 23-28.
Barker and his NC Hunter Skills Team also won 2nd place, the highest ever placement in the event now in its 20th year.
Overall, the North Carolina team finished 16 points away from bringing home the big trophy, which was won by Louisiana. Texas and Missouri captured the National Titles in all the previous 20 years.
“It was worth it, for sure,” said Barker about the 20-hour drive to get to Nebraska for the championships. “Hanging out with the rest of the team and learning about everyone. I met lifelong friends, and we are already staying in touch and will always remember the time out there.”
Barker’s mom, Missy, who also made the trip with husband Kenneth, noted that she could see the unity of the North Carolina team grow as the week progressed.
“You could notice the comradery as the week went on and they really encouraged and supported each other,” Missy said. “I think that was a big factor in their success.”
Barker also fared well in the Shot Gun and Rifle events, hitting 13-of-15 targets in each.
The competitors also had the opportunity to go to a local waterpark as well as fish in a pond behind the NC team hotel, though most nights were spent studying and preparing for the testing for the Hunter Skills competition.
Barker will not be able to go back in the same Hunter Skills category next year since competitors may only qualify once for a specific category. So next season Barker hopes to return in the Shot Gun competition.
“I think I have a good chance at making it in the Shot Gun,” added Barker. “I had a good showing in the event out there. So I feel if I work hard I can qualify.”
After the national championships, the Barker family enjoyed some of the western part of the United States, taking in attractions including Mount Rushmore, Old Faithful at Yellowstone Park, the Grand Tetons, Badlands and Deadwood.
Despite spending more than 100 hours on the road round trip, getting to see all the sites was something Barker and his family will never forget.
“I think as far as scenery goes my favorite was Mount Rushmore,” said Barker. “Grand Teton would be a close second.”
At Deadwood, Barker was chosen to play a role in a card game with Wild Bill Hickok in a show, something the local youth said he’ll never forget.
“Getting to be a part of that was incredible. Everything was so realistic from the card game to the shooting and gun fight.”
So what’s next for Barker?
“Well, just getting back to practicing and preparing for the District 1 Tournament down in Ellerbe on August 17,” he said. “I need to be focused and prepared because the state tournament will be a month later back in Ellerbe on Sept. 21, and that will decide if I qualify and will advance to the National Championship back in Nebraska next year.”