Staff Sgt. Walter Johnson won the Overall Champion title while Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Franks claimed the Metallic Division Champion title at the 2023 Crawfish Cup Regional Action Pistol Match in Lake Charles, Louisiana April 22-23.
The annual Action Pistol, which is made up a four events: practical, barricade, mover and plates, is attended by high-caliber marksmen from across the United States and typically kicks off the Action Pistol Season.
Johnson, an Augusta, Georgia native who is a marksmanship instructor/competitive shooter for the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Moore, Georgia, said he was excited to win his first Crawfish Cup Champion title.
“It is one of my favorite matches, run by excellent staff and volunteers.”
With so many proven marksmen competing for the title, it was not an easy win for the Soldier, explained Johnson.
“The competition was exceptional tight with all of the top three competitors moving into the last stage, which is traditionally the mover.” The Mover event is where the target laterally travels 60 feet in six seconds while competitors fire a total of 48 rounds from the 10-, 15-, 20- and 25-yard line stages.
“Mark Blake of the Australian Team shot first and cleaned it with a very strong X-count (480-42x), making 1920-176x the score to beat,” said Johnson. In Action Pistol, a score of 1920 is perfect, meaning the competitor did not miss a target on all four events. And the X-count scores the hits on the target, with the closest to the center receiving more points.
After Blake’s impressive score, the U.S. Army Soldier knew he had a challenge. Johnson relied on his training and expertise and laid down his own impressive score of 480-40x on the Mover event, making his total score a 1920-181x, now the highest score to beat.
Last up with Bruce Piatt, the reigning 2022 Crawfish Cup Champion who was only one point behind Johnson. Piatt had also just won the preceding match, the Louisiana State Match, where Johnson took third. Knowing this, all the competitors were watching to see who would win the Cup.
Piatt finished the Mover event with a 480-38x, giving him a total score of 1920-178x, and making Johnson the Champion.
Johnson said he enjoyed the excitement of the tight competition because it made the match even that much better.
“All of the top three scores were great scores that could have won most competitions,” said Johnson.
As Johnson was claiming his first Crawfish Cup win, his USAMU teammate, Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Franks, was working on his his third consecutive win in the Metallic Division.
“Franks did not just win the Metallic Division, but he put up one of the best metallic scores I have ever seen with a 1918-161x,” said Johnson.
Franks said his winning score was a personal best and he could not be happier since at the Louisiana State Match, which was just before the Crawfish Cup, he shot a 1914-139x and his focus was not quite where he wanted it to be.
“My focus is not on winning because winning is not up to us, but how we perform is,” explained the Las Vegas, Nevada native who is also a marksmanship instructor/competitive shooter at the USAMU.
At the Louisiana State Match, “It was a grind trying to push though the match pressure, which feels like a fog over your thoughts and makes it difficult to focus on your shot plan [all the necessary steps to achieve a perfect shot, distinctive to each individual].”
Franks’ score of 1914-139x in the preceding state match was still a great score and claimed the Soldier the win with a 33 point lead over second place, but the match was “very chaotic not being able to have the required focus,” said Franks.
However, during the Crawfish Cup, time seemed to slow down according to Franks, and said he was able to coach himself better during the different events.
“This resulted in a higher score—being able to manage what needed to be done instead of battling the ‘what if’s’ throughout the match,” explains Franks who claimed the division win with a 42 point lead over second.
In the Production Division, Staff Sgt. Christopher Hudock, a Virginia Beach, Virginia native, won the Louisiana State Match and placed second in the Crawfish Cup.
The next Action Pistol match for the USAMU Service Pistol Team is the Bianchi Cup in Hallsville, Missouri May 23 - 26.