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UK targets shooter Kirby

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By Josh Cook

Shelby County High School air rifle coach 1st Sgt. Willie Brown affectionately calls Heather Kirby “the ice princess.”

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That’s because when Kirby shoots, she is calm, cool and calculating.

“Nothing gets her rattled,” Brown said. “Heather definitely has a demeanor for shooting.”

Next year Kirby will be shooting for the University of Kentucky. The two-time national champion made that official at her signing ceremony Monday afternoon in the SCHS library.

“I’ve known the UK team and the coach since my freshman year, and I've always had a good relationship with Coach Harry [Mullins],” Kirby said. 

That was just one of many factors, though, that led her to Lexington.

“I’m going to study equine, and UK has a great equine program,” said Kirby, whose career aspiration is to be a Thoroughbred trainer.

Another reason Kirby cast her lot with the Wildcats is because it gives her the opportunity to reunite with former Shelby County teammate, Connor Davis, a UK freshman who recently had a school-record-tying score in a match against No. 1 Texas Christian University.

“To shoot with him again through college will be really cool,” she said.

Kirby began shooting in 4-H when she was 9 years old after she went to watch her older brother, Darren, at a practice. 

“The coach came up to me and said I should give it a try, and I did,” Kirby recalled. “I haven't put it down since.”

Kirby has been a member of the Shelby County team since her freshman year. In that time she has won a pair of national titles and competed in the United States Olympic Trials.

“She’s the type of person who anything she puts her mind to she’ll accomplish,” Brown said. “I expect she'll do well at UK. She's already a national champion. I suspect if she stays with it, she'll do well.”

Kirby has high hopes.

“My ultimate goal is to win a national championship and be the best college shooter I can be,” she said.

The ultimate reason why Kirby chose Kentucky may have been most evident in the blue UK sweatshirt she sported Monday.

“I've been a Kentucky fan my whole life,” she said with a smile.