Aiming high

In June, four 4-H air pistol shooters will represent Colorado in the senior division of the National Shooting Sports Invitational. Two of them share the same dinner table in Craig.

"I started shooting a year before Zach," said Jacob Pearson, who at 16 is one year older than his brother. "He started the next year, and we've been shooting for at least six years."

Zach took second and Jake took third in the air pistol competition in Pueblo to qualify for the national tournament in Columbia, Mo.

"I had a hard time before the pistol shooting started," Zach said. "I was shaking I was so nervous. But I prayed and put it in God's hands, and in the next round he helped me calm down."

Eleven 4-Hers from Moffat County competed in the air rifle and air pistol state competition. The Pearson brothers also placed in the top 10 in at least one of the three rifle disciplines. They qualified for nationals as alternates in the air rifle, but stringent participation rules will keep them out of the rifle competition.

"You can only go in rifle or pistol," Jacob said. "You can also only go compete once in your lifetime in rifle or pistol, so we're just sticking with pistol."

The Pearsons are home schooled. They said their flexible schedules developed the discipline they needed to shoot well.

"We usually practice at least twice a week," Jacob said. "It has been tough this year."

The 4-H shooting club in Craig has had a hard time securing a shooting range. In the past 18 months, there have been at least three moves.

"It was tough this year, because we didn't have much of a chance for consistency," Jacob said. "It was a frustrating thing, but it was a test of our faith and it helped make it stronger."

Through all the moves, coaches remained consistent. Jody and Red Lee, Ron Aaberg and Laura Tyler help the team.

"The coaching we have here is great," Zach said.

Two days before the state competition, Zach's rifle broke. Tyler found a replacement for him.

"That's just one example of how great the coaches are," he said. "They really know what they are doing."

Jody Lee returned the compliment.

"Those two have great practice habits and dedication," he said. "They make a lot of efforts to always improve."

According to coaches and athletes, shooting's mental aspect is the toughest.

No matter how much practice goes into it, the first competition can be nerve racking.

It was Jacob's first competition in the air guns after competing in .22-caliber rifle for seven years.

"I was having a hard time with my nerves just like Zach," he said. "We didn't shoot that well but we did good enough to make it."

Jacob earned a score of 181 out of 240 in the air pistol while Zach had three more points than his brother.

After some time off they will resume practice for the competition in June.

"It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so I want to push myself," Zach said. "I have no idea where I can place but I want to improve my score."

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