OHP Pistol Team

If Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Mike Sexton wins the state pistol matches again this year, he will tie the record held by former Norman Police Officer Royce Weddle who won the title seven consecutive years in the early 1980s.

The Oklahoma State Police Pistol Combat Championship competition begins Friday in Oklahoma City and will host over 20 law enforcement agencies.

"Trooper Sexton is the first trooper to win the event six years in a row," said First Lieutenant Larry Jackson, troop commander of the OHP Pistol Team. "He is a dedicated, hard-working trooper who has donated countless hours to perfecting his skills as a member of the pistol team, and we are immensely proud of him."

Sexton won the auto-pistol national competition last year and will be featured in this year's program at the annual event. In 1993, he and fellow team member, Trooper Jerry Green, won the two-man team overall national championship. Sexton has been named to the President's 100 list of top shooters nationwide for eight years, and the Governor's 20 list here in Oklahoma for the last nine years.

Sexton says he practices at least four hours each day, two weeks prior to the competition and still gets a little nervous.

"Of course I get nervous. In terms of mental preparation, I try to look at it as just another practice, because I can tear it up at practice," said Sexton. "I tell myself to relax and breathe and shoot and have a good time, and not worry about the other guy who's nipping at my heels."

Records reflect that Weddle still holds the record for most state championships, with a total of 12. He won his first event in 1969 and followed with 11 additional wins through 1986. His streak of seven consecutive years began in 1975 and ended in 1981. This is the record Sexton will attempt to tie on Saturday.

Sexton serves on the OHP Pistol Team with seven other highway patrol officers from across the state. They are Second Lieutenant Tom Montgomery, Lawton, Troopers Joel Franks, McAlester, Johnny Freeman, Altus, Scott Hulsey, Vinita, Lance Green, Oklahoma City, Scott Haney, Oklahoma City and Jerry Green, Pauls Valley, captain of the team.

To become a member of the OHP pistol team, troopers are selected by compiling their shooting scores after annual tryouts. The open competition requires the officers to participate in several shooting scenarios. They begin seven yards from the target and shoot as far away as 50 yards. They shoot in standing, kneeling, sitting and prone positions, as well as with their weaker hand using revolvers, semiautomatic weapons and rifles. They are required to shoot a specific number of bullets in a certain amount of time at predetermined distances from the target.

"All shooting positions and times are designed to simulate what officers could encounter throughout their careers," said Jackson. "It's virtually impossible to simulate the stress of a real shooting situation, so time constraints are placed on the shooters from every position.".

The selected team then travels throughout the nation to participate in regional, state and national shooting competitions. The shooters compete in teams or as individuals in several matches at each event in a format much like their tryouts.

"The pistol team recently competed in the regional law enforcement pistol matches in Raton, New Mexico with outstanding results and a superior effort," said Jackson.

It was during this competition that Franks tied a national record by shooting a perfect score. Officers are placed seven yards from the target. Within 20 seconds, they must shoot six rounds from a revolver, reload their weapon and shoot six more in an attempt hit the "X ring," a small center area on the target which measures two- by three-inches.

Franks hit inside the X-ring with every shot and received what is called an "X count" for each of the 12 rounds, achieving a perfect score and tying the national record. He won another three matches and placed second in two additional matches. Montgomery won two matches, and Freeman placed in several.

Sexton placed second in the two-man team competition with fellow trooper Jerry Green, and third with Franks in the overall semiautomatic firearms class.

"The competition was extreme. For instance, Trooper Sexton scored 1,492 out of a possible 1,500 and did not even place in that particular event," said Jackson. "That's what you call intense competition, but these guys can certainly hold their own as their record shows."

The top 20 shooters of the state competition this weekend will be named on the Governor's 20 list.

"Many troopers over the last several years have received the distinction of being placed on this prestigious list," said Jackson. "In 1999, five of the eight-member highway patrol team received recognition from Governor Frank Keating in a ceremony at the State Capitol."

The OHP Pistol Team participates in competitions that are sanctioned and governed by the National Rifle Association. The statistics from each competition are compiled and submitted to NRA officials who recognize officers during the national competition. The top national scores are submitted and officers are ranked in order to create a list of the President's 100.