Cochran takes aim at shooting success

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

For Kaci Cochran of Stockbridge, participating in shooting competitions gives her a feeling unlike anything else.

“It’s kind of an adrenaline rush for me,” said Cochran, 26. “It’s a new challenge every match you go to. The stages are always different and fun. It’s a lot of fun for me to meet new people and shoot with my friends. And when I’m able to accomplish something I haven’t been able to do before, it gives me a real sense of pride in what I’m doing, so it’s kind of a total package for me.”

Kaci Cochran sights along her pistol for a shot at a recent shooting competition. Special photo

Cochran first got involved with shooting sports roughly 11 years ago. Prior to shooting competitively, she was involved in rodeo. The seeds for her interest in shooting sports were sown long before her own career began. Her father shot for a few years before she was born.

Through it all, she said, her parents have been her biggest supporters from day one, “hands down.”

Cochran, who was homeschooled and graduated high school in 2009, has amassed an impressive resume in recent years winning the 2016 Louisiana Gator Classic Ladies Open, and the 2014 and 2015 Ladies Open Division national championship for the United States Practical Shooting Association.

Cochran also competed in a pair of events in 2013 for the International Practical Shooting Confederation, winning a third-place Ladies Open award and a Ladies Open Team Gold.

In February of this year, Cochran competed in the Georgia State Steel match, earning the title of High Lady in the Centerfire Division. She placed second overall in a field of more than 200 entries.

“I was kind of surprised,” she admitted regarding last month’s event. “One of the best shooters in the country was in the competition, and I was second behind him, so it was pretty cool.”

Cochran added that she looking forward to competing internationally again later this year.

“I am also going to be representing the USA again on the Ladies Open Team at the World Shoot this August in Chateauroux, France in August,” she said. “The World Shoot is basically the equivalent of the Olympics for our sport.”

One of Cochran’s local supporters, McDonough businesswoman Jea Gackowski, is among those helping to get the word out about Cochran’s success. Gackowski said Cochran is helping to bring McDonough to a “world-class stage,” and that the shooter is a role model – particularly for women.

“I just think that it’s interesting that you have women who are willing to pursue their dreams, even if it’s not your typical career,” said Gackowski. “The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Henry County. You’ve got somebody who’s competing internationally as a woman in shooting, and that’s just fascinating.”

Cochran expressed her gratitude for those who have supported her in her journey as a shooter. She said she appreciates the response she has gotten for her various accolades.

“It really excites me and it makes me happy to know that what I’m accomplishing and what I’m doing is giving men or women something to look up to,” she said. Anybody calling me a role model just makes me very happy.”

When asked what her strategy has been for her shooting career, Cochran said she has strived to maintain the right attitude about her success.

"Honestly, I’ve just tried to stay humble no matter what my accomplishments are, and I’ve just tried to do better and be better,” she said. “I have been very fortunate to have the support I have. The sponsors have been awesome. Without those things, I would not be where I am today.”