Top-level shooters from across the U.S. are gearing up to shoot in the Midsouth Shooters Supply 2016 Crawfish Cup NRA Action Pistol Regional Championship, which will be held on April 22-23, 2016 at the Southwest Louisiana Rifle and Pistol Club located outside Lake Charles, Louisiana. What makes this shooting competition so inviting to the best Action Pistol shooters in the game?
“Here’s a bit of trivia; most of the Bianchi Cup winners since 2011 have won the Crawfish Cup the same year. We are excited to have so many World Class shooters shoot our match,” said George Mowbray, match director for the Crawfish Cup.
The Southwest Louisiana Rifle and Pistol Club has been hosting NRA Action Pistol Tournaments since 1987. Starting out with portable, static targets that had to be set up and removed for each match, volunteers who run the Crawfish Cup have slowly and continuously built the range into one of the best Action Pistol ranges in the country.
“We strive to duplicate the range experience of the Bianchi Cup with very similar equipment and procedures,” Mowbray said. “We want to build the identity of the Crawfish Cup as a competition where pros can hone their skills, and amateurs can match their skills against some of the best in the country.”
Under several different names, the match has been run near Lake Charles since the late 1980s. In 2011, Mowbray said the organizers adopted the name Crawfish Cup to draw attention to the Cajun delicacy that is in its prime season during April and May.
“He went on to say, “We also shifted the date of the Crawfish Cup to late April, typically about four weeks prior to the Bianchi Cup, in hopes of attracting more attendance from top competitors who start focusing on Action Pistol in the spring and from International competitors coming to the U.S. to compete in the National Action Pistol Championship. We have regularly had competitors from New Zealand and The Netherlands, as well as Australia. For many years, attendance at our regionals ran from 40 to 45 competitors. When we renamed the match the Crawfish Cup, and moved it closer to the Bianchi Cup, we instantly saw an increase of about 15 more competitors.”
In 2013, Doug Koenig and Carl Bernosky attended the match and have apparently spread the word that not only is the range constantly improving, but is also a well run match.
The organizers also made a critical decision to reschedule the match so that competitors who wanted to attend the NRA’s Annual Meeting and shoot the match that fell on that same weekend, could be squadded to shoot the match on a Friday, and then leave to attend the NRA’s Annual Meeting.
“In 2014, Doug Koenig flew in, shot the match, and flew out to attend the NRA Annual Meeting,” Mowbray said. “We think that says something about the quality of the Crawfish Cup Regional, and Doug’s commitment to the sport.”
Also, Mowbray pointed out that last year, past Bianchi Cup Champion Bruce Piatt was among the 75 competitors who participated in 2015. At the 2015 Crawfish Cup, Piatt beat Koenig by three Xs, but Koenig came back to win at the 2015 Bianchi Cup. Other former Bianchi Cup Champions have included Kevin Angstadt, who in 2014 won the Crawfish Cup and followed it with a win at the Bianchi Cup.
Also, Mowbray notes that several people have set national records at the Crawfish Cup. In 2014, Martin Johnson set new records as a Senior competitor using a metallic sight firearm in the Practical Event, the Barricade Event, and the Falling Plate Event. Also that year, Vance Schmid set a new national record for a Senior competitor using a Production Firearm in the Moving Target Event (Modified).
“With all the improvements that we’ve been able to make to the range with the help of Midsouth Shooters Supply, we’re able to increase our range capacity,” Mowbray said. “With the addition of another moving-target range, we’re able to accommodate about 120 competitors at the one-day match.”
Mowbray noted that in 2015, the Crawfish Cup surpassed $11,000 in donated merchandise, which was awarded via random drawing, giving all competitors an equal chance to leave the match with some very nice prizes. Mowbray said, “The more we get the word out there, and the more folks we’re able to bring on as sponsors, the more we can grow the competition.”
In addition to top-level competition, part of the match’s draw is its Cajun flavor. Competitors are all invited to dinner at a locally-owned and operated restaurant Friday night before the match, featuring boiled crawfish and other Cajun cuisine. Also, the owner of the restaurant brings his big grill on a trailer to the range and grills chicken, burgers, and sausage for the competitors on Saturday as his contribution to the match.”
“The Crawfish Cup is more than just a competition. It’s quickly becoming a time for friends to gather, take in some local culture, and compete in a sport that’s unlike any other,” Mowbray said. For example, in 2014, the match staff organized an airboat tour of the Atchafalaya Basin, enabling competitors to get up close and personal with alligators and other wildlife in their natural swamp habitat.
Mowbray said, “We are recommending this tour this year as well, although we’re not officially organizing it. It’s located about 80 miles from Lake Charles, and can be arranged individually at www.basinlanding.com.”
“We’re looking forward to the shoot this year,” Mowbray said, “and we’re up to the challenges that a growing competition brings, and the anticipation that starts to build as we get closer to The Crawfish Cup!”
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