Finding the Target

A keeling man wearing glasses and a kilt, holding an archery bow.

Logan Sandifer, former Sharkey County 4-H’er

4-H Shooting Sports centers young man during difficult challenges

Story by Leah Barbour • Photos by Kevin Hudson

“Slow down. Relax. Focus. Find your balance. Imagine your problems are the arrow, but you are the bow. The string is God’s power, handling all the work. The bow holds the string that shoots the arrow.

“Let yourself be helped, and the problems will disappear,” Logan Sandifer concludes.

He explains that the metaphor he’s come up with explains how Sharkeyv County 4-H Archery helped him through one of the darkest times in his life.

“I’ve learned to let go and trust God like he’s the string and the arrows are my problems,” Sandifer explains. “Just like I trust God to direct my path and handle my problems, I trust that the string will deliver the arrows to the target.”

Originally from Clinton in Hinds County, Sandifer grew up in Rolling Fork. As a teen, he and his family lived in Oklahoma for a short time, but Sandifer’s family returned to Sharkey County after they received some terrible news.

“My mom (Tammy) got a diagnosis for pancreatic cancer, and we had exhausted all the options. She wanted to be at home,” Sandifer explains.

A neighbor recommended Sandifer join 4-H, and he did. Trying something new during this difficult time was a challenge, he says.

“I’d always been sort of a loner, but I needed to get out of the house. Archery gave me a reason to go outside and focus on a goal,” Sandifer reflects. “That’s what I had to do. I needed to take a step back to take on the challenge.”

MSU Extension agent Lea Turner remembers when Sandifer joined the Sharkey County 4-H Shooting Sports team.

“I think, as Logan went through the process and learned through archery, he learned how to slow down to make sure he was doing the process right,” Turner explains. “I know Logan’s mom has given him inspiration through what she’s taught and how she lived.”

Sandifer agrees, pointing out that, even after his mother passed away in the fall of 2020, he continued working on his archery skills in 4-H. He excelled and was invited to the 4-H Shooting Sports State Invitational the summer of 2021.

“Logan would practice for hours, after everyone else went home,” Turner remembers. “He’s someone I’ve ended up being really proud of, and I’ve been really impressed with all the effort he showed then and all the effort he shows now.

“In 4-H, he went on a journey where he started out more reserved and kept to himself, but, over time, he opened up to making good friends.”

Sandifer was very proud to make it to state competition, and, while he did not win the state championship, his experiences there forced him to find ways to channel stress in positive ways.

“I had to relax. I had to slow down. I had to focus on the goal. Then, I could deliver the accurate shot,” he says. “It felt so good to get to state. I went through some soul searching. I learned I don’t always have to be the soldier. It’s OK to let go.

“I learned to admit that I can’t always solve the problem, and that’s OK.”

Sandifer says he was honored to wear the kilt his mother gave him when he competed at the State Invitational.

“I am Scotch-Irish and Norwegian. I’m proud of my heritage, and people were a little surprised when they saw me wearing the kilt on the range, but it fits into my character,” he says. “It’s one of the few parting gifts my mother gave to me. It reminds me of her and where I came from.”

Even though he’s now aged out of 4-H, Sandifer says the benefits he gained continue. He appreciates the opportunities he’s had through 4-H, and he advises other Mississippi youth, no matter what they may be going through, to take advantage.

“4-H archery definitely helped me with my stress and my social life,” he laughs. “I became more sociable and was able to get out of my comfort zone. After all, all the other kids there were just as nervous as me. You make mistakes, and you learn.

“4-H is friendly, and you learn a lot about different people and their upbringing. 4-H is a place where I could be me,” Sandifer continues. “Life is always going to give you ups and downs, and being strong means being able to say, ‘I cannot overcome alone. But with your help, I can.’ ”

4-H is delivered in every county by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Two men standing in a field, smiling.
Former Sharkey County 4-H'er Logan Sandifer (right) learned important life lessons from 4-H Shooting Sports and his local Extension agent, Lea Turner.
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