If westerns have taught us anything, it's that Jacob Finlayson better keep his eyes peeled for trouble. Raised in cowboy culture in West Otago, the 22-year-old with the competitive moniker Lightning Jack has emerged eighth at the world cowboy action shooting competition in New Mexico.
OPINION: Impressive. But the question folk hereabouts are asking is who's going to be gunning for him now?
It ain't easy being the fastest. In fact if Finlayson really wants to depress himself about what lies ahead, he could check out the classic 1950 film The Gunfighter
It climaxes with weary gunslinger Gregory Peck being treacherously shot in the back by a kid trying to make a name for himself. With his last breath he calls out to the sherriff to turn his killer loose, so he could find out for himself what it's like to live with the reputation as the fastest.
We're hoping for a better future for Lightning Jack, at least to the extent that his rivals face him squarely. Which does seem likely, since his main challenger would appear to be his father Ron. The pair occasionally recreate western shootouts in Gore.
We hasten to add that in competition the contestants don't fire at each other. But it's not mere quick-draw posturing either. They are tested for a combination of speed and accuracy with pistol, rifle and shotgun, at targets made up to resemble western scenes.
In these sissyboot times, cowboy action shooting, a sport created in California in 1982, won't be for everyone. But a little respect, please.
The achievements of Lightning Jack will only enhance the south's western reputation, which we should remind ourselves has also gained a measure of international prestige from the 2011 film Good for Nothing, a micro-budget but stylish and witty homage to spaghetti westerns, shot in Central Otago and the Mackenzie Country by Mike Wallis and prompted the Santa Barbara Independent to marvel: "Who knew New Zealand was the best place in the modern world to shoot a western?"
Should it be that other film-makers take up that idea, the casting directors could do worse than send Lightning Jack a telegram.
- The Southland Times
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