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Brett Allen prepares to shoot during a competition in 2019.

Greensville County teen Brett Allen is pretty handy with his 12 gauge Browning Citori Over and Under shotgun.

Just how handy, you ask? Enough to strike enough targets to qualify for the 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships June 20-25 in Grand Island, Nebraska. The 17-year-old isn’t sure what to expect when he gets there.

“I’ve never been at all,” he said. “All I know is there will be several hundred people, four from each state, and I think a couple from Puerto Rico competing. A lot of college scouts will be on hand. It’s a huge opportunity for me.”

In January, Allen hit 906 of 1,100 targets in the district championships at Brush Mountain Hunt Club in Altavista.

The Brunswick Academy student shot at trap, skeet, and sporting clays. The competition was the final step in a two-year journey that was delayed by COVID-19.

In the fall of 2019, Allen hit 176 of 200 targets during the Virginia State Shotgun Championships in Hurt to finish 10th overall. That No. 10 position earned Allen a spot on the Virginia State Developmental team and the opportunity to compete for nationals.

The pandemic delayed the dream when the national championships got canceled. When the opportunity arrived in January, Allen delivered with a fourth-place finish — which qualified him for the national competition in June.

For the next couple of months, Allen will prepare for his moment on the national stage. The preparation is more than just heading to a range and emptying shells at a flying disc.

“I like to shoot in different backgrounds,” he said. “Backgrounds, like weather, play a huge role in shooting. I want to get used to as many as I can to prepare for nationals.”

The Greensville-Emporia 4-H does not field a shotgun team, so Allen is a member of the Brunswick club. It’s a successful shotgun-shooting group. Allen’s teammate, Sam Capps, of Lawrenceville also qualified for the national competition as the champion of the Altavista event.

Allen has a game plan for the nationals in Grand Island. It may sound simple, but competing against the nation’s best is nerve-wracking for most.

“Focus is the key,” Allen said. “I know I’m going to be a little nervous, but if I focus and grind it out, I think I’ll be fine.”

Allen will more than likely do well when he arrives in Grand Island. After all, he’s pretty handy with a shotgun.