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5:39 AM Tue, Oct. 23rd

Shooting-based science project hits the bullseye

When you look at this spunky blonde 10-year-old, you might think the farthest thing on her mind is doing a fourth-grade science project on shooting accuracy and asking the question: Do shooting aids really help?

But Sadie Snay, a young lady who not only excels in the classroom and in sports, is also all about the great outdoors. And that includes target shooting, hunting and fishing.

Last year, Sadie was in fourth grade at Hualapai Elementary, and like her classmates in Mr. Louis King's class, was assigned to do a science project. Those projects would also be used at the school's science fair.

While some students chose to do traditional projects, this bright young lady decided to do something different.

"I wanted to do something original that had something to do with shooting," Sadie said. "And I wanted it to be fun!"

So with the support of her mother Kelly and father Scott, who is a retired educator with more than 30 years in the Kingman educational system, Sadie decided on a project.

She decided that the project question would be: What shooting position is the most accurate (standing, sitting, prone) and does using a shooting aid (bipod, shooting sticks, sling) improve your accuracy at each position?

Sadie has been active in the shooting sports since the time she was a little girl.

First it was using a BB gun, then at age 5, her dad taught her to safely use a custom .22 bolt action rifle that had been built by local gunsmith Ed Higgins for her older brother, Matt.

The young lady has developed a keen eye for shooting and has taken prairie dogs, rabbits and squirrels. Last fall, she took her first big game animal, a javelina, with one shot.

But there was a lot to do before she could finish the project, which would take about two weeks to complete. She had to establish her hypothesis, do research on the Internet, put together a list of materials needed to perform the tests, and establish the procedures that would be used in the project. Then she had to go to the range, perform the tests and write up the results. Then she could list the conclusions of her research.

This project required that Sadie and her father go to the Mohave Sportsman Club's Seven Mile Hill Shooting Range on three different days to perform the shooting tests.

In all the young shooter would fire a total of 150 rounds of .22 ammo under the watchful eye and supervision of her father.

"She would get five warm-up shots at each position, then she would fire 20 rounds," Scott said.

The results were very interesting.

While it was proven that indeed the prone shooting position with a bi-pod was the most accurate, it was found that shooting accuracy in the sitting position with shooting sticks wasn't very far behind.

Sadie said that using a shooting aid was beneficial in two of the three positions, but her worst scores were obtained while standing and using a sling. "I actually shot a little better when I didn't use a sling while standing," she said.

When Sadie submitted the project to her teacher, she was rewarded with a grade of A+!

The project was then submitted to the school's science fair where it received top honors, a blue ribbon.

So what is this young lady going to do for her fifth-grade science project in Mrs. Stephanie Angle's class? "This year I'm going to test ammunition accuracy," she said with a smile.

Her project will entail testing four brands of 22 hunting ammunition against one brand of higher priced match ammo.

Sadie will be featured next week on Cable 57 on a program called "Back at Camp," where she will explain the project to a television audience.

Sadie's story on her project will also be submitted to the Arizona Game & Fish Department's Wildlife Views magazine for publication.

Who knows where this bright young lady, who has already demonstrated an inquisitive mind, will go from here?

One could see a bright future for her as a research scientist in a field that has traditionally been one staffed by men. But then again, Sadie Snay is obviously not one who gets held back by stereotypes or tradition.