By Mike Keleher
I spent three days this weekend in Grand Island, Nebraska shooting the much hated invading zombies at the 2019 Zombies in the Heartland 3-Gun competition. This light- hearted match brings shooters from all age groups and skill levels together to fight off the undead hordes each June.
I had the good fortune to shoot with Jon Wiedell and his dad Todd last year when Jon was getting his 3-Gun competition skill set honed up. This year I was squadded with the Wiedells and was amazed at the skill and abilities exhibited by this 16 year old shooter.
I got to talk with Jon between stages about his successes and the changes in his shooting life. Jon will be entering his junior year of high school in Minnesota this fall, and looks like a “normal” teenager, if such a thing exists.
This young man is in the middle of a lengthy competition shooting schedule this summer appearing in nine national level matches, and has been racking up very high placed scores competing head to head against pro shooters and seasoned professionals. In fact, Jon pulled off a double win at the Zombies in the Heartland match finishing first in the Junior Division, as well as finishing first in the Open Division.
The 3-Gun Open division is akin to nitro burning dragsters in drag racing, shotguns can be loaded with detachable magazines and pistols can have compensators and red dot sights affixed. Now for Jon to pull off the win in the 10 stage match in the Open Division is quite an accomplishment, but when you learn the second place winner was shooting legend and multi-world record holder Jerry Miculek, you get a better grasp on the current skill set as well as the future for Jon Wiedell, who has only been shooting competitively for three years.
Jon also won Junior Division titles at the 2019 Missouri 3-Gun Championship and 2018 Nordic Tri-Gun match.
I asked Jon how he got into shooting, and he said he has grown up with his Dad shepherding him along, starting like many other kids in Minnesota hunting deer as part of a family activity. He said his father got into competition shooting about a year and a half before getting Jon started in the 3-Gun sport. Jon said his Dad is is his coach and source of encouragement.
Asking how he has gotten to be so good in such a short amount of time, Jon credits a huge amount of practice to include live fire three to four times a week at their local range, in addition to dry fire practice daily.
Jon started out shooting Tactical Division with a Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm and a Benelli shotgun, then moved to a Glock pistol and currently rocks a 2011 pistol in 9mm (a 1911 type platform that accepts double stack magazines). Jon also speaks quite highly of his current Open division shotgun, a magazine fed 12 Ga from Dissident Arms that sports all the bells and whistles you can imagine just shy of having built in GPS.
Wiedell also credits his rapid development and success to help he receives from other well known competition shooters like Tyrone Spencer, Garrett Grover, Rob Cyra, Dr. Dylan Easley D.C. and Jay Carillo.
Jon said he enjoys shooting, but also has a real appreciation for the friends you meet along the way. He cited there is a social aspect in competition shooting which accentuates his enjoyment of the sport.
I asked Jon if there was some advice he could pass along to new shooters (young and old) and he immediately stated “Dry fire practice.” He practices daily, and said anyone can do it in a safe environment, it has no expense or noises associated with it, and is essential to getting better at gun handling and accuracy. Jon is a very affable young man, but was dead serious when he said he never goes to the range to “plink.” He related “You should shoot with a sense of purpose” and “Every draw you make should be made like you are already in the middle of a competition.”
Looking at life goals, Jon said he would like to continue competition shooting and he has been influenced by fellow shooter Dr Dylan Easley, DC, and he hopes to one day become a Chiropractor like Dr Easley.
I finished up with Jon asking if his shooting acclaim has helped him with getting girls to be interested in him. He sheepishly shook his head and said “My mom said I need to focus on guns…not girls!”
Jon Wiedell is a terrific young man with a bright future in the shooting sports. You can follow him on Facebook, and at age 16 he even has his own web page at jon_wiedell_3g.