MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Marines from Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron tested their marksmanship skills as they competed in the Top-Shot Shootout pistol-poker tournament, held at the Indoor Small Arms Range here, Feb. 22, 2013.
The contest combined pistol marksmanship skills with the classic game of poker. When five Marines out of the nine competitors made it to the finals, the game changed to Texas Hold’Em. Officials pasted a full deck of playing cards in a random order on the targets so that no targets were the same.
Staff Sgt. Osvaldo Rosario, ISAR staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge, said the idea for this competition was brought up by Maj. Elizabeth Pham, H&HS executive officer, and was organized by ISAR staff.
“Last year, we did something similar for officers only, but with rifles,” said Rosario. “It was a similar game with the cards, only it was slightly different. It was straight poker, not the breakdown from poker to Texas Hold’Em.”
As the tournament progressed, it came down to two Marines: Master Sgt. Randal Southern, H&HS air traffic control SNCOIC, and Staff Sgt. Joaquin Moreno, H&HS aircraft recovery production control chief. Both managed to shoot the same cards and tied with a straight flush (nine through king of hearts) in the final round.
“On the winning hand, I knew that it was going to be a straight flush,” said Southern. “My strategy was to shoot the Ace and Jack of Hearts. I’m glad I shot the Jack first. If I shot Ace, I would have been out. I’m just lucky I saw the Jack first and then I had the opportunity to shoot the ten.”
With both Marines ending up with the same exact hand, it came down to the tie-breaker.
Before the competition, participants started with a speed reload from the Marine Pistol Qualification Course. The point behind the speed reload drill was to give the participants a chance to warm up their skills and the score would decide the winner in the event of a tie.
“The tie-breaker was the make it or break it for this competition,” said Rosario. “We set up for a tiebreaker, but we weren’t expecting it.”
Out of a possible 300, Southern scored 294 against Moreno’s score of 273, declaring Southern the winner.
“I missed out on the chance to compete in the shootout in Okinawa, but I was glad to compete and had the opportunity to shoot,” said Southern.
Southern is slated to receive a plaque from Lt. Col. F. Lance Lewis, H&HS commanding officer, in the near future.
“I’m completely happy with how it went today,” said Rosario. “We had a great competition. A lot of Marines over here gave it all they had to make it to the top.”
The tournament finished with ATC winning yet another H&HS event, but it’s safe to say all the Marines who participated gave it their best shot.