Mineola graduate Utley earns top marksman award


Justin Utley, 32, has always had a sharp eye and a quick trigger. He began shooting at the young age of 14. So when he won the Texas State shooting contest two weeks ago it was not much surprise to anyone who knew him.

“This is my eighth state championship to win. My performance at the past State match was pretty good. There was a couple of stages I felt I could have done better but overall (it was) a good performance,” Utley said.

Ironically Utley received a nearly perfect score of 794 out of 800.

The next big match will be in March which will be a regional championship. There will also be another state championship in May, nationals come quickly after that in July.

Utley, who graduated from Mineola High School in 2003. He is has been a police officer in Tyler since 2011 reflected on what went through his mind during the competition.

“I’ve always had an interest in law enforcement, and had a lot of friends in the field.

“My first shot was a nine and after that I saw a few other shooters shoot a nine, so I (refocused) and didn’t drop anymore point,” Utley said.

According to Utley the first shot made him nervous, but he quickly corrected his wind call and took each shot one at a time for the remainder of the shoot off. Utley has participated in shooting competitions since 2000 and winning the President’s 100 has always been a major achievement for him.

Utley also added that he wants to continue competing in events like these, and they help him be better prepared as a person in law enforcement.

“I’ve got to keep trying to win other ones,” Utley said.

Utley also won the Pietroforte Trophy, reserved for the high scoring civilian. He won with a national record of 986-42x.