Pearson brothers shoot their way to nationals

David Pressgrove

Zach and Jacob Pearson admit their sibling rivalry gets in the way sometimes, but rarely when they are competing in air pistol.

That’s because Jacob, the older of the two, knows that his younger brother is the better shooter. “If I beat him, I feel bad because I know he had a bad round,” 17-year-old Jacob said. “But when he’s shooting right I don’t have a chance.”

Zach was shooting right at the 4-H National Shooting Sports Invitational in Columbia, Mo. last Thursday though Saturday. He was the first-place finisher in both the precision air pistol and air pistol silhouette competitions in the Senior Air Pistol division for 14-18-year-old competitors.

His brother finished in second place in the precision competition, just one point behind. Jacob was fourth in the rapid-fire air pistol competition.

“I lost focus on my last shot in precision,” Jacob said, “or I might have won.”

Zach’s two first-place finishes and an 11th place in rapid fire earned him the title of national champion. Jacob finished fifth overall and the brothers led the Colorado team to second place in their division.

“The hard work paid off,” Zach said. “We put a lot into the tournament.”

Two-hour practices, three times a week since November were part of the preparation. They estimated they went through 10,000 pellets during that time.

“We knew what to expect of ourselves but we didn’t know what the competition would be like,” Jacob said.

In the 4-H national competitions a person can only compete in each discipline (ie: .22 or shotgun or air pistol) once in their lifetime. This was the Pearsons’ first national tournament.

“It was a great chance to meet people,” Zach said.

What about beating everybody for a national title after finishing second in the state competition?

“I didn’t even know there was an overall champion until after it started,” Zach said. “I went there to do my best.”

The brothers said all of their preparation didn’t make the big show too nerve racking.

“I couldn’t sleep before other competitions,” Jacob said. “Things were fine for me this time. Ultimately it’s up to God where you’re going to be, so we did all we could by preparing and the pressure was off our shoulders because we put it in his hands.”

Going in, the brothers knew they were less prepared for the action shoot than precision and silhouette because they simply didn’t practice it as much.

But Jacob still managed a fourth-place finish.

“The third day is where I had my problems,” he said.

In the silhouette competition Jacob unknowingly violated the rules and was docked one point. He said that dropped him from sixth to ninth. “I learned that I need to know the rules even better than a judge next time,” he said. “A judge helped me during the competition but a team protested it and a miniscule rules violation cost me.”

Since they’re allowed one opportunity at the 4-H competition, the next time the Pearsons compete it will be a higher level. What level they’re not sure, but the Junior Olympics or international tournaments are some options. When all was said and done they earned 10 medals for individual and team results. Colorado finished third in the overall tournament without having a .22 rifle team.

The brothers enjoyed their time, especially the four-hour stop at the Cabela’s Store in Kansas City. “We’re thankful for our dad driving us because Zach would have been tired if he had to carry me all the way to Missouri,” Jacob joked.

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