The top 4-H shooters from across the country will return to Grand Island this summer.
GI will host the 2012 and 2013 National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitationals, and area officials are excited to have it back.
The 2008 and 2009 national 4-H shoots brought 400-500 competitors to GI each year. Grand Island-Hall County Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Renee Seifert says when the week long event returns this June they expect competitors to bring their families along too.
"If you have a choice and your child is going to a national invitational or you're going to take a family vacation, you definitely want your child to have that experience," says Seifert explaining that many families turned their trips to central Nebraska into vacations too when the shoot was here before.
Nebraska 4-H Shooting Sports Coordinator Steve Pritchard says it can be a one-time experience for a 4-Her to compete at the national shoot.
"This is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity for a young person to compete in this given event," says Pritchard. "For example, if they come in and compete in the shotgun venue this year, that's their only time to compete in the national event in the shotgun discipline."
Pritchard says the shoot features 27 events in nine disciplines - everything from rifles to pistols to archery.
"My best guess right now [is that there] will be around 500 competitors and then add another 100-150 coaches...somewhere around 1,200-1,400 people will come through or be in Grand Island this summer," he says.
The Visitors Bureau says without a facility like the Heartland Public Shooting Park that can host multiple disciplines at once, getting an invitational like this would be impossible, and with the number of people these events attract, Grand Island would like to see the 4-H Shoot return.
"We think that they may be looking to name a permanent host state and that is something that we would be very interested in becoming," says Seifert.
Pritchard says the shoot's success in 2008 and 2009 was thanks to a great group of volunteers, and he says people were calling him to volunteer again as soon as they heard the invitational was Nebraska-bound.
The 2012 Invitational kicks off June 18 with opening ceremonies at the Heartland Events Center. There is no charge to watch any of the competition during the following days.
Grand Island will also host the 2013 shoot.