The men and women that make up to The Crawfish Cup come to us from several different shooting diciplines, yet they all share a common thread. Every one of them strive for excellence. The competition between them is fierce, the training is arduous, and the victory can only be savoured for so long. Each competition carries it's own set of challenges. So, which competitor will have what it takes to carry The Crawfish Cup Home? Whether they're a past champion, or a rookie, it all comes down to the firing line.

Doug Koenig

Our first competitor needs little introduction. Winner of over 70 national and world shooting championships as of March 2016, the name Doug Koenig resonates throughout the world of shooting sports through his proven record, dedication to the sport, and still-flourishing career. We're certain his Crawfish Cup Trophy is prominently displayed in front of his Bianchi Cup trophies, so we're excited to get his thoughts on this year's event.

We asked Doug what his year typically looks like, and we have to tell you, it's daunting even for a skilled competitor, "My competition schedule is really a mix of all different shooting disciplines." he said, "I participate in Steel Challenge, NRA Action pistol, Sportsman’s Team Challenge, 3 Gun, USPSA and IDPA, so all in all, about 20-30 scheduled matches."

He went on to say, "The season is never really over for me. When I’m not on the range, I’m in the woods filming for my new TV show, Doug Koenig Championship Season."

The man lives and breaths shooting sports. Gear checks, chamber checks, and a passion for every aspect of the sport drive Doug to excellence. Whether its at the range, or in the field, Doug approaches each task with unparalleled dedication. When asked about how long it takes before he's back at the range, practicing, he said, "It depends on the time of the year and what’s next on the schedule. Not normally more than a week or so."

So what's Doug's favorite part of The Crawfish Cup? "It’s a great Action pistol range." He went on to say, "I like that It’s a well-run match just a month before the Bianchi Cup and it’s a great warmup match for me." Being the last big competition before the Bianchi Cup, which Doug has won 16 times now, we asked him how competing in The Crawfish Cup helps him to prepare for that prestigious event. "The Crawfish Cup is definitely a final check on all my gear and it allows me the time to make any tweaks to my gear." So the cycle continues, with each step leading toward another victory, because the true competition isn't The Crawfish Cup, or even the Bianchi Cup. It all leads up to the competition that lives within Doug, as he continues to strive for excellence within himself, and the sport.

Kevin Angstadt

Meet Kevin Angstadt, the Midsouth Shooters sponsored competitor, and 2014 Bianchi Cup Champion.

Kevin, like many of us, goes to his day job, is a dedicated father, recently engaged, and enjoys his time behind the reloading bench. Unlike us, Kevin has honed his skills into a force that can slice through the competition, having won The Crawfish Cup, and the Bianchi Cup in the same year.

Having been a friend of Midsouth’s for some time, it was easy to reach out and get his thoughts on The Crawfish Cup, and his approach shooting sports in general. For Kevin, it all comes down to the preparation. It’s his stress reliever, and his time to center on the process. He’ll shoot 10 plus matches this year. He said, “My focus is Action Pistol.” He went on to say, “It’s typically two matches a month, running from April to October, with some Steel Challenge matches during the year.”

As a reloader, he spends a couple months with his finger off the trigger, and his hand on the lever, loading ammo for the coming years shooting events. “I typically go through thousands of rounds per year, so my bench is pretty full. It’s pretty much a rainbow of different colored presses and tools.”

Tenacity defines Kevin's approach to the sport. "A lot of what I can do revolves around work, family, and travel for the other matches." This balancing act never manages to break Kevin's upbeat, infectious spirit and good nature.

Again, he's like so many of us. He loves the people involved with The Crawfish Cup, he loves the food, and he loves the drive he feels to do the best possible competitor on the firing line. Like so many competitors, Kevin said about The Crawfish Cup, "It's one of the best put-together pistol matches. The people are great to be around, it's relaxed, and the perfect match to prepare for the Bianchi Cup."

When asked about Crawfish Cup being prep for the 2016 Bianchi Cup, he said, “It shows me what I can do under the pressure of the match, and what areas I can work on, and bugs to work out of my equipment. As a final run through, I typically shoot the regional and state action pistol matches in Michigan. They’re smaller, but it’s great to make sure everything is in check.”

It's stacking up to be a great year for Kevin Angstadt, and we're anxious to see if he can be a repeat champion in 2016.

Bruce Piatt

"I can’t put my finger on a single experience which led me to 30+ years of competitive shooting. I only know that once I started, there was no stopping."

Hold a mirror up to Bruce Piatt's extensive, and accomplished professional shooting career and you'll see a dedicated husband, father, and officer of the law. It's this symmetry that makes Bruce a champion. Last year, 2015, Bruce took home The Crawfish Cup, and he's looking for another win on 2016. To call him a natural is an understatement. He's been pushing himself to be a better shooter since the age of 11, when he walked to the range because a ride from family wasn't readily available. Even now he says, "Unfortunately, my access to a range is very limited so practice is very rare. I often travel to a match location a day or two early and will get some trigger time before a match. That will be the extent of my 'practice.'"

His schedule isn't just full, it's also varied, "Throughout my career I have selected a wide range of shooting disciplines to compete in. This year is no different." he said, "I have 12 major matches on my schedule for 2016 ranging from Conventional 2700 Bullseye at Camp Perry, rimfire rifle and aerial shotgun shooting of the Sportsman’s Team Challenge, to several action packed 'outlaw' 3-Gun matches." After that, it's back to the reloading bench. "I reload everything I shoot and yes, my reloading room is multi-colored. The majority of the loading is done on Dillon 1050’s but I have a Hornady shotshell loader, RCBS single stage press and reloading dies that run the gamut from Lee, Dillon to precision Redding and Forsters."

We asked Bruce when his season is over. "My competition season ends in December only to find me in my shop either loading ammo or working on guns. January is the SHOT Show every year which usually renews a project, or brings about something new. My first 'travel' match of the year is the Superstition Mountain Mystery 3 Gun Match in Phoenix every March. So I guess to answer your question accurately, no, I never stop." It all comes down to one singularly wonderful point: Bruce is living his dream. He gets to be a cornerstone of the sport because of his talent, and dedication. He gets to enjoy it because of his humility, and his love of the sport. Again, it's the symmetry that makes Bruce a great competitor.

"2016 will be my second Crawfish Cup. I enjoyed my time last year so much, that it will remain on the 'must attend' side of my match list." When asked why, he said, "The laid back atmosphere and the timing as it relates to the Bianchi Cup makes it a perfect place for me to get quality time behind the trigger. It allows me one last chance to review my equipment, make any subtle changes and set my game plan for Bianchi Cup."

After his first appearance, and win, at The Crawfish Cup, we're excited to see what he brings to Louisiana in 2016.

Tracie Rushing

Tracie Rushing leapt onto the scene in 2012, and has since become a top competitor in USPSA and Actions Pistol, and a member of the Sig Sauer Shooting Team. "I also love Bullseye and am trying to fit in more matches this year. I am also learning women’s Sports Pistol and Air Pistol and expect to dedicate a considerable part of my training to those disciplines from here forward." Tracie's life in academia traverses into her shooting sports career seamlessly. She divides her time between The University of Central Arkansas, her husband of nineteen years, four kids, and an exceptional career, and does it all with the voracious need to continue learning.

When asked about what's on the horizon, she said, "In Action Pistol, I am scheduled to compete in the Crawfish Cup, the Flagler Cup, and the Bianchi Cup this year. I would love to attend AP World in New Zealand as well. In USPSA, I plan to shoot Area 4, the Arkansas Sectional, the Oklahoma Sectional, and the Tennessee Sectional. I usually shoot Production Nationals, but don’t plan to attend this year. I will definitely revisit the Louisiana State Bullseye Championship and hope to begin competing in Sports Pistol and Air Pistol."

Tracie's story starts like many others, "I started shooting for self-defense purposes and realized stationary shooting at 7-15 yards was not adequate training. I am a very goal–oriented person and competitive shooting offers never ending opportunities to set personal goals, which I find very rewarding." Rewarding is the correct word. In 2015 alone, her awards were extensive, most notably NRA Bianchi Cup Metallic High Lady, 2015 USPSA Oklahoma Sectional High Lady, and 2015 Louisiana State Production Bullseye Champion just to name a few. From one firing line to the next, Tracie takes educating others into another classroom as a concealed carry instructor and NRA safety range officer. Her dedication to the sport is only match by her dedication to her family.

Determined to excel at the sport, she looks at 2016 as a new batch of opportunities. When asked about her forthcoming trip to Louisiana, she says, "Without question, the Crawfish Cup is a very organized and well-run match. You just can’t find better people than our buddy, George Mowbray, and the rest of the staff who volunteer their time." When asked about her favorite aspect of the match, she said, "The people involved keep me coming back. Not only the staff, but I also enjoy seeing friends from all over the world. The Southwest Louisiana Rifle and Pistol Club is also a beautiful range." She added, "Last year, after The Crawfish match was over, a couple of members were kind enough to show me the ropes of shooting Bullseye and I had a wonderful experience going back to shoot their state match."

"Shooting at Crawfish is extremely important to getting back in the rhythm of Action Pistol in preparation for Bianchi. Last year, my scores improved from Crawfish, to Flagler, and from Flagler to Bianchi. I hope to see similar improvement this year and feel I’m starting from a stronger position this year." Tracie will continue to be a top competitor simply because she refuses to switch off the part of her that strives for knowledge.

Tony Holmes

Tony Holmes puts in the work, both at the range, and in his personal life. Whether it's 60 hours a week at his job, loading his ammo at the reloading bench, or running his guns at the range, it all comes down to the work. Tony started working toward his goal of being a professional shooter at a young age. His father, a competitive shooter himself, introduced Tony to pistol shooting at the age of 13. The seed was planted, and it sprouted into a fruitful career in shooting sports. A top competitor in several different disciplines of shooting, from Action Pistol, to 3-Gun, and more, Tony has traveled the world as a storied shooter, and an ambassador to the sport. Every championship, and accolade gained by competing is a testament to the work Tony has put into himself, and shooting sports.

So what does Tony look for in a competition? It all circles back to the challenge when he says, "I like a match with competitors, who on any given day, any one of them can win. This makes for a great shooting atmosphere. I also want to be challenged by the course of fire." For most folks, it comes down to one or two aspects. Tony's meeting every variable head on, working out the best course of action, and accomplishing his goal. His work ethic flows through his impressive resume, and proof positive of a lifetime of dedication to his sport. With four Bianchi Cup Championships alone, we asked Tony what sets action pistol apart. He said, "I shoot a lot of 3-Gun matches, but I always look forward to the Bianchi Cup and the World Shoot in New Zealand. I love the accuracy involved in the match and I believe shooting action pistol makes you a better shooter in other shooting disciplines." He went on to say, "I love to compete. I believe shooting in so many different disciplines over the years, has made me a more well-rounded and successful competitor."

We were excited to get Tony's take on his first appearance at the 2016 Crawfish Cup, "I’ve heard a lot of great things about the match, and I’m looking forward to it. This year, I will be shooting a newly built pistol for the Crawfish Cup. It’ll allow me to get some needed trigger time behind it and make any necessary adjustments before heading off to the Bianchi Cup in May."

"Once the buzzer, timer, or target appears, everything else falls away, and it's all business. The years of experience and training take over." The work begins.

Becky Yackley

Since 1989 Becky Yackley has built an impressive shooting career, from NCAA Air Rifle, to 3-Gun, and Action pistol. Last year alone, she competed in nearly 30 events. This year's shaping up to be much the same with 26 events scheduled so far, including her first ever appearance at the 2016 Crawfish Cup. Concerning Crawfish Cup, Becky says, "We planned to use the Crawfish cup as preparation for the Bianchi Cup. We're excited about being a part of any Action Pistol match that gives us time on a mover, and allows us to use our guns in a match setting. I cannot set up a mover in my backyard the way I can set up for a practical event, or even build a barricade, so participating in actual matches with these components is an essential part of preparing for a big event like Bianchi Cup."

"This is our first year to shoot the Crawfish Cup, and so we are excited to be a part of it. We’ve heard it’s a great match, and we have been very busy with 3 gun, so we’d like to get more action pistol in this year. We hope to attend the World Shoot in New Zealand, and so we are working toward that goal!"

There's a great reason as to why Becky uses "we" so much, and it lies at the core of her competitive career and abilities. "We" means family, and not just her husband and three sons, all of whom are competitive shooters, but going all the way back to where her love of shooting sports started. Her dad, a gunsmith at Krieger Barrels, shaped her into a self-reliant, tenacious competitor with the necessary tools to be an accomplished shooter. "I think the passion for competitive shooting comes from not just within my family and our close friends, but among the people I’ve met along the way who are now part of my extended family. Shooting sports is a fundamentally American activity, and it brings people together in a sport who might otherwise not cross paths - from all ages and different parts of the country. Shooting brings people together over a common interest and shared values. It reminds us of what it means to live in a free country, and to pursue our own happiness. So while it’s a small sport, there are some big ideals behind it!"

The foundation Becky has built her career on is rock solid. Each family member supports the other, each shooter holding the other up, at the range, at the bench, or the firing line. We're excited to see Becky and the rest of the Yackley 5 at this year's Crawfish Cup!

We'd also love to hear from those of you that follow NRA Competitive Shooting! Please follow the links provided below to our social media channels, and leave your questions for the competitors there. We'll do our best to include them in each interview. This competition is unique, in that it allows some true up-an-comers to pit their skills against some of the best in the world. It's also the best opportunity for these champions to hone their skills one final time before the Bianchi Cup. So please, feel free to contact us with your questions for the competitors. If you have a favorite competitor, let us know, and we'll try to set up an interview with them also. Click one of the links below to reach out to us: