Kevin Angstadt offered me some sound advice several years ago during a time when my Bianchi Cup performance had taken a step back. He told me I should consider competing in more regional and state matches to help refine my skills for the Bianchi Cup.
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Throughout my career, I have tried to closely observe what other top shooters do and how they practice. I take note of how they strategize. I noticed that Angstadt continued to get better and better, and he told me his improvement was due, in part, to participating in state and regional matches.
Angstadt provided me with a list of matches I should consider participating in. The Crawfish Cup, hosted by the Southwest Louisiana Rifle and Pistol Club in Bell City, Louisiana, has become one of my favorite matches from his list, and I have competed at the Crawfish Cup for several years.
The Crawfish Cup
This year’s competition featured an all-time high of 86 competitors, including nine women’s shooters, the most I have ever seen at a regional match. The Crawfish Cup is so smoothly run, and it offers a template that other regional matches looking to increase their prominence would be wise to follow.
The Crawfish Cup occurs at an ideal time. This year’s regional was on April 23, about a month before the Bianchi Cup. There is enough of a gap between the Crawfish Cup and Bianchi Cup to give competitors time to mentally and physically recover. However, the Crawfish Cup occurs close enough to the Bianchi Cup for it to serve as a trial run. The Crawfish Cup gives you an indication of whether your skills and equipment are in top form. If they are not, you still have a few weeks to make the necessary refinements.
My intention at every Crawfish Cup is to see how I perform under pressure and monitor how I shoot with the guns that I plan to take to the Bianchi Cup. I also get a chance to determine whether I am in the proper physical condition required for the Bianchi Cup.
For those who are already in top shooting form, competing at the Crawfish Cup can help keep your skills sharp. The skills for shooting, like many sports, are perishable, so even top-tier competitors need practice and competition regularly so they do not lose their touch.
Our match is positioned perfectly where shooters can practice a little bit and then come shoot a major match under major match conditions against top competitors and still have about a month or 5 weeks to polish their skills up,” said George Mowbray, match director of the Crawfish Cup.
In recent years, shooters who have won the Crawfish Cup also have fared well at the Bianchi Cup. I do not think this is a coincidence.
For example, Doug Koenig won the Crawfish Cup in 2013 before going on to win the Bianchi Cup. A year later, Angstadt won both events. Bruce Piatt has won the Crawfish Cup the past 2 years.
The Crawfish Cup switched to its April date in 2011. Previously, the match had occurred in the fall under a different name. The club has hosted NRA Action Pistol state or regional matches since the early 1990s. The name was changed to draw attention to the Cajun crustaceans – considered a culinary treat – that are in their prime season during April and May.
Shooters can compete in a very similar atmosphere to the Bianchi Cup, a little more than a month ahead of time, and enjoy some Cajun culture and good food,” Mowbray said.
For many years, attendance at the regional was about half of what it was this year. After the timing of the match was changed to April, participation grew.
A second mover was added this year to aid the moving target event, and that came in handy for the increased number of participants. One mover runs on tracks, and the other one is a regular mover with ropes. The Crawfish Cup is one of the few regional events that features a second mover. Overall, the equipment at the match is of high quality, and organizers try to duplicate the equipment and procedures that competitors will see at the Bianchi Cup. The club uses its turning targets, falling plate racks and moving target year-round, which helps organizers keep on top of any issues that might arise during the tournament.
As participation in the event has grown, so has the level of talent.
Koenig and Carl Bernosky first attended the match in 2013, and their presence has helped grow interest in the event. Shooting is like any other sport. Being around high-level shooters helps you improve, so competitors who want to improve their status in the sport are wise to attend competitions that include top talent. The Crawfish Cup regularly pulls in competitors from around the United States, as well as New Zealand, the Netherlands and Australia.
The year after Koenig and Bernosky showed up, the field of competitors increased by 13. The next year, attendance surged by another 20 shooters, and the field increased by another 11 shooters this year. Mowbary’s hope is for the event to surpass 100 participants next year.
The Crawfish Cup’s growth has been accelerated by inclusion of a title sponsor, MidSouth Shooters Supply, which has helped increase awareness of the match and its other sponsors with promotional efforts on the Internet and through social media outlets.
As a sponsor, you want publicity, and MidSouth went all out for it. MidSouth employees were at the range to meet the competitors. The sponsor had a photographer at the range taking photos and posting them to social media. A representative from MidSouth was there when it came time to present the awards.
The prize table at the tournament is huge, and nearly all of competitors leave the match with prizes worth more than their entry fee. This year, the Crawfish Cup compiled more than $10,000 worth of donated merchandise.
If you are looking to increase your participation in state and regional matches, consider consulting a veteran shooter for advice on which matches to attend. Make sure to put the Crawfish Cup on your list. I will see you there next year.
Vera Koo is a first-generation Chinese American woman. She’s a wife and mother, author, entrepreneur and retired competition shooter. Along with Vera’s fantastic memoir and life story, "The Most Unlikely Champion," she writes her column, Vera Koo, at "Women’s Outdoor News." View all posts by Vera Koo