Pendleton native Ryan Hadden can be a tough person to track down.
When he's not travelling around the world, winning championships as part of the U.S. Army shooting team he spends most of his time stationed in Georgia.
So when the accomplished trap shooter was able to swing through his old stomping grounds for a couple days after winning a competition in Hillsboro, 4-H shooting coach Jennifer Babcock knew she had to take the opportunity to get her kids some quality one-on-one time with one of the brightest stars of their sport.
As luck would have it, Hadden had the same thing in mind.
"I?had talked with my dad, 'You know it would be great if Pendleton, Pilot Rock had a 4-H?program,' because that's how a lot of kids are getting started now," Hadden said. "I?knew I?was going to be in town, I?was like, what a great opportunity for me to come out and work with the kids, talk with the kids and their parents and let them know the different avenues they can go on."
"I thought it was awesome that he was taking the time out of his day to come over here," Babcock said. "He was enthusiastic about it. I know when I?was a junior shooter I?met world class shooters as well so I?just thought, what an opportunity. Because as a kid, these are your mentors so I?just thought how great it would have to be for these kids to have a mentor of their own."
Hadden, a two-time World Cup champion, spoke to an intimate crowd of 4-H?trap shooters and their parents Monday evening at Pilot Rock Gun Club. He passed along valuable information about how to get started toward a career in shooting and gave out a few free pointers on the mechanics of shooting.
Hadden, who grew up hunting and started competing when he was 12 years old, said the key to getting your name out in the shooting world is simply to show up at competitions. While a few shooters will receive invites to the junior olympic qualifying events, Hadden said anybody can compete there.
"My dad and I?would travel to the local shoots, Oregon, Washington and Idaho and around the area on the weekends,"?he said. "It's one of those things where as long as you work at it and have a good mental game, it's not one of those things that you have to shoot all the time."
Hadden, 29, said he always aspired to shoot for the U.S. Army team and while some shooters choose to go the college route, he has seen several advantages to his choice.
Hadden has travelled around the globe and the United States for free thanks to his shooting prowess and said there were other perks he was able to receive that NCAA athletes wouldn't without putting their amateur status in jeopardy.
As part of the Army team, Hadden said his primary duty to his country is training the drill sargeants and sniper instructors in marksmanship.
"Shooting is just what we do to get our credibility,"?he said. "All of our sections work with recruiting ... but the main thing we do is we do train the trainer missions. We enhance marksmanship throughout the army."
Babcock said if anybody would like to get involved with shooting through 4-H?they need to sign up with the group through fliers that generally are passed out at school in the fall.