Once upon a time in West Otago

17:00, Jul 31 2014
Jacob Finlayson
QUICK DRAW: Jacob Finlayson, currently living in Invercargill, has been placed 8th in the World in Cowboy Action Shooting, which took place in New Mexico.

As the tumbleweed rolls across the Wild West, Lightning Jack tips his stetson, draws his pistol and empties his rounds.

Jacob Finlayson, 22, aka Lightning Jack, is a modern-day cowboy.

In fact, after this year's End of Trail competition in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Lightning Jack is the eighth-deadliest cowboy in the world.

With a quickest draw of 12.57 seconds, he's no slouch in handling his revolvers.

Raised on western culture while growing up in West Otago, his father Ron Finlayson - or Tuscon as he's known on the range - inspired his love of the west.

The pair, who recreate western shootouts in Gore, have a friendly rivalry but Lightning Jack has surpassed his dad, who is ranked 192nd in the world.


Cowboy Action Shooting, a sport created in California in 1982, holds its annual competition on a ranch near Albuquerque.

Shooters take part in 12 stages, in which they have to shoot two pistols, a lever-action or pump-action rifle and a model 1897 pump-action shotgun. Lightning's total over the 12 stages was 213.84 seconds.

Target setups are made to resemble western scenes, and scores depend on time and accuracy. Every cowboy is required to look the part - long pants, or dresses for the ladies, boots, cowboy hat and shirts with long sleeves.

By day, Finlayson is a design engineer in Invercargill, sans cowboy boots and stetson.

But the boots are not just reserved for the ranch.

"If I'm going down to the pub, I usually chuck my old cowboy boots on," he said.

His alias comes from the 1994 western Lightning Jack, starring Paul Hogan. When starting out, Finlayson's biggest cowboy hero was a shooter from Nelson who has since retired. But the sharpshooter from the south is now in the big leagues and counts world champion Cobra Cat as a good friend.

His friends used to giggle at the get-up but they quickly changed their tune. "They can't believe we're shooting single-action firearms at the speed we are."

Lightning Jack will be heading back to End of Trail in two years. brittany.pickett@stl.co.nz

Pistol New Zealand and the Community Trust of Southland helped to fund the trip.

The Southland Times