ShootingNewsVincent Hancock

On The Cusp Of Olympic History, 3x Skeet Champion Vincent Hancock Is Establishing A Legacy At Home Too

by Scott McDonald

Vincent Hancock poses for a portrait at a Team USA shoot on Nov. 20, 2019 in West Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Team USA)

Winning three Olympic gold medals and five world championships doesn’t have skeet shooter Vincent Hancock kicking up his feet and resting on his laurels. Competing in his mid-30s doesn’t slow him down either.

Hancock is focused on his future, not the past. That includes this summer’s Olympic Games Paris 2024, which will be his fifth Olympics. He plans to qualify for the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028, too, which he said would be his final competition before retiring.

Additionally, he’s gotten a head start on life after competition in molding the next generation of shooters. That not only includes his daughters, but hundreds of avid high school shooters in north Texas. He’s also working with two fellow skeet shooters who have qualified for the Paris Games.

Life has moved fast for Hancock. He went from a kid learning to shoot BB guns at his home in Georgia to becoming a world champion in men’s skeet shooting at age 16. From there he went to Army basic training before his senior year of high school, and then spent six and a half years in the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit as both an athlete and instructor.

Along the way, he won a pair of Olympic gold medals in men’s skeet, in 2008 and 2012, becoming the first man to do so. He hit a rut and finished 15th at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, then got redemption with his third gold medal at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

Earlier this month, Hancock secured a spot in the Paris Games, besting a bevvy of sharp shooters at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Arizona. It was another pit stop on a continued career path of greatness in which he doesn’t look back.

“The biggest thing is knowing I have another chance to medal,” Hancock said. “I’m not thinking about the past because it’s in the past. I just try to do the best I can. 

“You have to be mentally and physically focused on every shot. You need to have the most perfect day out there. I’m constantly trying to get better. If I’m not getting better I’m falling behind.”

Two years ago he looked ahead when he embarked on a new journey that combined his craft, his family and his future. Hancock met someone in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex who trained skeet shooters on a small plot of land.

Vincent Hancock competes during the men's skeet finals at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 26, 2021 in Asaka, Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Getty Images)

As the business grew, Hancock had an idea.

“When I met him in March 2022 he’d been doing it for six months,” Hancock said. “I cold-called him and told him of an area that would be perfect for this field of work.”

They officially opened Northlake Shooting Sports in January 2023, next to the Texas Motor Speedway and just north of Fort Worth. Hancock said their sprawling complex typically hosts up to 500 high school shooters each week for either practice or events. They work with professional shooters and host nonprofits and charity organizations as well.

Among those who train at the facility each week are fellow 2024 Paris skeet qualifiers Austen Smith, a 2020 Olympian who was the top women’s qualifier at the trials, and Conner Prince, who finished just behind Hancock in the men’s event.

Hancock sees golden opportunities for both. He said Prince has abilities almost unparalleled to anyone he’s seen in more than 20 years of competitive shooting.

“Conner is one of best shooters I’ve ever been around,” Hancock said. “His mechanics are very sound, and he’s got potential to be one of the best.” 

Hancock knows his own next big prize could be another gold medal when he gets to the Paris Games. If he’s successful, he’d become only the sixth athlete to win four Olympic gold medals in the same individual event — a group that includes fellow Americans Al Oerter, Carl Lewis and Michael Phelps. Regardless, Hancock is eyeing another strong showing during his farewell bid that could culminate with the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Achieving those feats would require shooting nearly flawlessly at the highest levels.

“Perfection is very rare. You have to make your moves as perfect as possible,” Hancock said. “You have to be focused on every shot.” 

Then there’s his future. Hancock lives in the swelling suburb of Argyle and has daughters aged 12 and 13. The girls and their mother often take turns shooting skeet at the facility where Vincent usually spends 70 hours every seven days, mostly working and teaching before he squeezes in about 20 hours of practice each week.

Hancock’s daughters will attend a high school whose shooting program dissolved when its former coach left. He said the school will revive its program this fall — just after Hancock gets back from Paris.

He’s also training scads of other students in his craft, hoping to raise awareness in his sport for reasons other than Olympic lore. It’s something that could be part of his legacy.

“The legacy for me is not about just winning medals. That part’s been fun. In the end, it’s what kind of impact did you have? It’s about having a positive impact on those around you. Having so many kids getting started in shooting sports. If I can go and compete in 30 countries and do this, a lot of people can,” he said. 

“These kids are learning gun safety, how to work as a team and, for many of them, it’s about gaining self-confidence.”