Generation HC Member: Jacob “Jaco” Hetherington

“Generation HC,” or the “High Caliber Generation” is what I’ve begun calling young people I’ve come into contact with in the world of shooting sports.  These “kids” are extremely focused, mature, and disciplined – but they have a lot of fun, as well.

You can read about previous Gen HC members Allie Barrett and Leslie Cernik below, but now it’s time to hear from our first male shooter, Jacob “Jaco” Hetherington, a 14 year-old IDPA and USPSA/Steel Challenge competitor from Prescott, Arizona.  And Jacob doesn’t just compete in these challenges, he wins.  He has achieved Master class in Stock Service Pistol in IDPA, “A” class in single stack, and Master class in Production in USPSA.

He told me of his love for all types of shooting, and of his family, by saying, “My family is really supportive.  I have an older sister, Madeline, 16, and a younger brother, Craig, who is 11.  My dad shoots with me sometimes, but it is mostly only me.  My mom doesn’t shoot anymore, but when she did she was a good dove hunter.

My sister doesn’t shoot competitively, but loves to shoot, and is really good with bolt-action rifles.  She also shot shotgun clays with me when we were younger for two years.  My younger brother loves to shoot also, and is a beast with an AR 15!  He shoots with me in steel challenge rarely.

My entire family hunts and has been successful.  My brother, though, holds the record for longest hunting shot, 346 yard perfect vital shot on his first deer.”

As with many young competitive shooters, Jacob’s entry into the world of shooting began early.

“I shot my first gun when I was two years old.  My dad had a 10/22 on a bench rest with a red dot sight and I shot frozen gallon jugs.  I was pretty much born into shooting. When I was nine, I started dry-fire practicing with my mom’s Glock 19, and when I was ten and a half, I started shooting competitive pistol. I shot an IDPA match and was hooked.”

Jacob’s location in Prescott is practically ideal for any shooter, as he is within close proximity to some wonderful shooting venues.

“I live 30 minutes from my local shooting range (Whispering Long Tree Range/Prescott Action Shooters) and shoot almost every weekend.  They hold a sectional match for USPSA called the “NAZC” (Northern Arizona Classic).  I live two hours from PRGC (Phoenix Rod And Gun Club), which is an IDPA range, and they hold a sectional IDPA match and the Arizona State Championships.  I also live two hours from Rio Salado Sportsman Club, which is a USPSA club.  It is also the local range of Rob Leatham, Nils Jonasson, and Cody McKenna, who are all [Grand Master] shooters and always try to help me out.  All in all, I would not want to live anywhere else.”

I asked Jacob the same questions I asked the ladies, and here are his answers:

Q.  What three life lessons have you learned from shooting?

A.  “I have learned to take extreme amounts of pressure, and make it disappear. I am more mature, because I have more responsibility, and I have high confidence, because you can’t doubt yourself when you shoot.”

Q.  How has shooting played a part in how you relate to your peers?

A.  “My friends think my shooting [is] awesome.  Most of them don’t really know about competitive shooting, but I try to teach them.”

Q.  What is your favorite type of shooting competition?

A.  “I don’t have a favorite type of shooting, but USPSA and IDPA are the most common types I shoot. All shooting is great, so it is hard to choose one. I also hope to shoot 3-gun someday.”

Q.  What is your favorite firearm?

A.  “I have shot tons of firearms.  I have shot M&P’s, Springfield XD’s, Ruger SR9’s and 1911’s and shot very well with them, but right now my Glock 34 is my favorite. I am happy with it, but I look forward to competing with other guns, too.”

Q.  How has your schooling affected your shooting “career,” if at all?

A.  “Well, I think shooting has made me a better person, overall.  It has helped my attitude toward school. I am a 4.0 student, and it is hard to keep [that level] when I leave for major matches. Homework holds back my practice, but I have to do it.”

Q.  What is it like to compete against people older than yourself?

A.  “Well, when I first started out, I thought that I was at a super disadvantage, but I now realize that it was just an excuse. I have won many matches against adults. I only have two years of USPSA experience, so I don’t have as much experience and confidence as older shooters. I enjoy learning from better shooters, and take what I learn from everybody and combine it with what already works for me.

I also like it when I meet a person that thinks that I am not a good shooter because of my age, and I blow their mind, and I get instant respect.”

Q.  What would you like to tell new shooters – young people who are just getting interested in shooting?

A.  “I would tell them that if you want to be good, you need to dry fire; and that reading books on competitive shooting is a good idea. Also, that you are going to hit bumps in the road, but if you are determined you will bounce back up.

As Rob Leatham said to me “Shooting is simple, aim shoot aim shoot move aim shoot,” and I would add that shooting is 95% mental, in my opinion. Also, major matches really help you improve fast.”

Q.  How do you see yourself involved in shooting 20 years from now?

A.  “I see myself as a great shooter that is really trying to help others win matches. I would like to be more of a contributor to the sport of shooting, than just a competitor. I hope I have a good reputation as a good shooter, and [that I’m] very helpful to my sponsors.”

As for his future career plans, Jacob said he hopes to get into a military college, or to get a scholarship to another college/university; but that if those plans do not work out, he will enlist in the military and then use the GI bill to get his college degree.  He plans to major in law enforcement and become a Police Officer, then a SWAT officer.

“That is my plan, but it is always changing; and if the military and law enforcement aren’t for me, then I want to go into the hunting guide business.”

From the sound of it, Jacob should have no problem achieving whatever goal he sets his sights on.

You can read about our previous Gen HC’s by clicking on:  “Allie Cat” Barrett, or Leslie Cernik, aka Western Rose.  I know you will enjoy meeting all of our High Caliber Generation members, and we wish Jacob all the best in his future endeavors!

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Coming Soon: Gabby Franco interview

Keep an eye out here for an interview with Gabby Franco of Top Shot Season 4!  Gabby and everybody who is anybody – except me 😦 – is at the NRA annual event right now in St. Louis, but I’m hoping to have the interview with her, and others, in the coming weeks.

Gabby has posted pictures on her facebook page showing her catching up with others from Top Shot, either this season’s contestants or those from previous seasons, as well as many other ladies in shooting sports.  It looks like a good time is being had by all.

Next year’s NRA meeting will be held in Houston, in my own back yard, so we will have lots of in-person interviews, photos, and maybe even a first-hand report of a who’s who shoot at our own home range.  Can’t wait!

Olympic Shooting Sports Harmful To Children?

So London officials have now decided that it might NOT be harmful for school children to view Olympic shooting sports, after originally ruling that it would be.  According to The Telegraph, the London Organizing Committee (LOCOG) recently reversed their original decision that London school children would not be able to receive free tickets to Olympic shooting sports events, although they could get complimentary tickets to others.

You can read the entire story by clicking here.

Update:  LOCOG has stated that it never intended to deny children access to shooting event tickets, but many in the UK supported the ban.  Read The Blaze story here.