Maryland >> One might argue that Tom Willats has always been a “straight shooter.” But now he has the trophy to prove it. Willats took top civilian honors in pistol at the National Matches — considered the “World Series of shooting sports.”
In 1903, Congress established a National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and the “National Matches” — a shooting competition designed to improve marksmanship and national defense preparedness. That year, teams representing the armed forces and National Guard competed against each other. In 1904, the National Board added individual competitions in rifle and pistol. The National Trophy Individual Pistol Match is a three-part course with rounds of slow fire at 50 yards, timed rounds at 25 yards, and rapid-fire rounds at 25 yards. Past winners include military personnel, law enforcement officers, and civilians.
In 1956, the National Rifle Association introduced the Citizens Military Pistol Trophy, awarded to the highest scoring civilian in the National Trophy Individual Pistol Match. This year’s competition included 363 civilians. Rockville Chapter member Tom Willats outscored 362 of them to win the Citizens Military Pistol Trophy. With a score of 285, Willats also placed sixth in the overall pistol competition, which included 476 shooters in all — civilian, military, and law enforcement combined.
In addition to his active competition schedule, Willats volunteers his time as chairman of the Rockville Chapter’s Training Committee, administers the chapter’s Basic Pistol Training Program, and schedules the chapter’s Range Safety Officers.