Creech is 'top shot' again

Perfect scores force shoot-off

Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Alton Creech will keep the department's title of "top shot" after beating out his closest rival in a scored shoot-off Friday.

Creech and the second-place finisher, Deputy Anthony Gregory, had perfect scores of 150 during the department's biannual firearm qualifications last week. This is Creech's third time as the sheriff's office's "top shot" -- a first for the office.

Though the department holds two firearms qualifications each year, only one is used to find a top shot.

Dressed in the University of Georgia's red and black, Creech said jokingly that his win over Gregory, who sported a South Carolina Gamecocks hat and watch, was a win for the Bulldogs.

"Georgia got their redemption with me," he said with a laugh as the men stood on the range and compared the grouping of shots on their targets.

It was just after 8 a.m. at the office's training center off Deans Bridge Road that a call from instructor Kathy Daniel in the tower signaled the shooters to prepare to fire. Through the loud pop of the weapons firing, the men could be heard comparing their shots.

"I threw one man, I did," Creech yelled, referring to a shot that flew just above the outline of the target's head.

"You threw one, but guess what?" Gregory said. "I threw four."

As the men began their shooting, the sounds of rifles firing could be heard a short distance away. It was there that a rifles-only shoot-off led to a win by Deputy Jay Rawlings.

This year was the first time Rawlings qualified to carry an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle for the department. He said his win was the result of lots of practice.

"There are a lot of good shots in the department," he said. "They are well-trained, so whenever you have a competition it's going to be close."

Skill on the range translates into skill on the street, he said.

All of the feelings -- the adrenaline, the fear -- are close to the ones experienced during competition.

"The more you practice and the more you learn to control these natural emotions, the better you can control your shot," he said.

The men will be awarded their trophies at an awards dinner Oct. 28.

Sheriff's Office list of top shots

2010: Alton Creech

2009: Alton Creech

2008: Alton Creech

2007: Darren Beasley

2006: James Kitchens

2005: Robbie Silas

2004: Robert Partain

2003: Mark Lovering

2002: Raymond Jones

2001: Barry Davis

2000: Dale Pittard

1999: Fred Lowe

1998: Michael Cardenaz

1997: Unavailable

1996: Shea Davis

1995: Michael Cardenaz

1994: Andy Jordan

1993: Ken Glisson

Source: Richmond County Sheriff's Office