COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. –-(Ammoland.com)- The USA Shooting Hall of Fame will proudly welcome two new members when Pat (Spurgin) Pitney and Walter Walsh are admitted to its ranks at an induction ceremony September 21 at the Embassy Suites in Colorado Springs.
The USA Shooting Board of Directors and current International Shooting Hall of Fame members vote on the Hall of Fame inductees every four years following the Olympic Games. This year’s ceremony will be conducted in conjunction with the bi-annual coach conference and USA Shooting Team Alumni reunion the weekend of Sept. 19 – 21, 2013.
“The inductions of Pat and Walter into our Hall of Fame are great additions to the legendary names of our sport,” said USA Shooting CEO Robert Mitchell. “Though their contributions to our sport are significant, the contributions they’ve made throughout their careers, in all walks of life, really distinguishes this year’s class.”
Pitney, who began shooting at age nine with the Yellowstone Junior Rifle Club in Billings, Mont., won four gold medals at the 1983 Pan American Games and was the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team’s first Olympic gold medalist after winning the 10m Air Rifle event as an 18-year-old competitor. Today, she’s still just the second American ever (male or female) to have won a medal in the Air Rifle event. That same year, she was the NCAA National Champion in Air Rifle for Murray State University and was selected as the Ohio Valley Conference Female Athlete of the Year. She also helped win National Championship team titles in 1985 and 1987 while winning another individual title in smallbore (.22 caliber) in 1985. Pitney was an eight-time First Team All-America in rifle, winning the award four times in both air rifle and smallbore competition. The Pat Spurgin Rifle Range in Murray, Ky. is named in her honor.
Pitney has volunteered as an assistant coach for the Alaska Nanooks at the University of Alaska Fairbanks for almost two decades. Pat’s husband, Randy, coached the team until 2001. The Alaska Nanooks have won the NCAA Rifle Championship 10 times since 1994. Pat and Randy have three adult children. Pat has worked at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks for 22 years and is the Vice Chancellor for Administration.
“Being inducted to the Shooting Hall of Fame is a real honor. Compared to many of my peers and almost every other person in the Hall of Fame, my shooting career was short lived. It was a great privilege to be part of the US Shooting Team and to represent the shooting sports, my hometown of Billings, Mont., Murray State University and the United States. I feel fortunate that I was among a very few teenagers given the opportunity to compete worldwide including having the opportunity to see life behind the iron curtain and in China as the Cold War subsided.”
“I was even more fortunate that the 1984 Olympics were in the USA,” Pitney added. It was the first time my parents, family and coach, Ralph Saunders, had the opportunity to see me compete at the international level. I want to thank many current Hall of Fame members for guiding me and setting the expectation to reach for the Gold medal. Success as a parent and leader is in large part due to the opportunities and experience gained during my shooting career.”
Walsh turned 106 years of age on May 4 and in January of this year became the oldest Olympian ever. Walsh was a member of the 1940 U.S. Pan American Games Team in Pistol. He was a member of the 1948 U.S. Olympic Team and finished 12th in the 50-meter Free Pistol event. A member of the 1950 U.S. World Championship Team, Walsh helped lead the team to a gold medal while earning an individual silver medal in center-fire pistol. Walsh also served as head coach of the 1958 and 1966 U.S. World Championship Teams. He served as U.S. Team captain, leader or assistant leader for the 1951 and 1955 Pan American Games, 1966 and 1970 World Championships, 1972 Olympic Games and 1973 CAT Games. Walsh earned Distinguished Shooter badges in Rifle, Pistol and International.
He crafted his shooting life as a kid by using a BB gun to shoot clothespins off his Aunt’s clothesline then graduating at the age of 12 to shooting a smoothbore .22 caliber rifle at rats in the city dump on the site where the Meadowlands would one day stand. He’d later go onto join the Civilian Military Training Corps (CMTC) and the New Jersey National Guard attending shooting matches at the Civilian Marksmanship Program in Camp Perry, Ohio, and winning several awards for his marksmanship skills.
Walsh’s storied life was featured in an article in the May 2013 USA Shooting News – click here to read the complete story.
Along with being an Olympian and distinguished shooter, Walsh was an agent in the FBI and helped bring about the fall of notorious gangsters like Arthur “Doc” Barker, Rusty Gibson, Baby Face Nelson, James Dalhover and Al Brady.
In 1938, he took a commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve and by 1942 Walsh went on active duty. In 1944, drawn by the intensity of World War II, he longed for a spot on the front lines, a spot he would get as a lieutenant colonel staff officer in the First Marine Division. Similar to his FBI career, accounts of his courageousness and spirit as a Marine, fighting in World War II, are legendary. After another brief return to the FBI and the 1948 Olympic Games in London, Walsh would serve another 20-plus years in the Marines Corps as a shooting instructor until his retirement.
The U.S. International Shooting Hall of Fame was established in 1991 by the NRA International Competitions Committee and later taken over and renamed the USA Shooting Hall of Fame when USA Shooting absorbed the program in 1994. Selection criteria was established that limited selection to those that had excelled in international competition over an extended period of time, with special consideration given to those shooters in pre-1948 competitions and those who had served the U.S. Shooting Team in administrative or coaching positions. To be eligible, the person must have been retired from active international shooting at least five years. The first inductees were the four USA Shooting Team members that had each won at least two individual Olympic gold medals.
The US Shooting Team Alumni Association (USSTAA) was established in 2011 for the benefit of all shooters, coaches and officials who have represented the United States in an International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) sanctioned match. The objectives include a means for former members to remain in contact with the sport and their teammates, a means of recognition of former team members, promote the traditions and history of international shooting competition and Team USA and inspire a new generation of shooters through the publication of memoirs, anecdotes, stories and lessons learned. The USSTAA encourages past members to support USA Shooting through memberships, donation, written articles, trophy donations, bequests or gifts of memorabilia and or firearms and accoutrements.
For more information on the 2013 Alumni Reunion and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, click here: www.usashooting.org/membership/coachconference/2013-alumni-reunion. You can also contact USSTAA President and Hall of Fame member Lones Wigger by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone (719)866-4886.
USA Shooting Hall of Fame
- 1991 – Gary L. Anderson; Lones W. Wigger, Jr.; Alfred P. Lane (pre-1948); Morris Fisher (pre-1948)
- 1992 – Margaret Thompson Murdock
- 1993 – Huelet (Joe) Benner; Walter Stokes (pre-1948)
- 1994 – William McMillan; Carl Osburn (pre-1948)
- 1995 – John H. Writer; Lawrence Nuesslein (pre-1948); Thomas Sharpe (Official)
- 1996 – John R. Foster; William C. Pullum (Official)
- 1998 – Lanny R. Bassham
- 1999 – Arthur C. Jackson
- 2000 – Matt Dryke
- 2001 – Arthur Cook
- 2002 – Tommy G. Pool
- 2004 – Launi Meili; Joseph B. Berry (Official)
- 2008 – Daniel Carlisle; Ruby Fox
- 2013 – Pat (Spurgin) Pitney; Walter Walsh
About USA Shooting:
USA Shooting, a 501c3 non-profit corporation, was chartered by the United States Olympic Committee as the National Governing Body for the sport of shooting in April 1995. USA Shooting’s mission is to prepare American athletes to win Olympic medals, promote the shooting sports throughout the U.S. and govern the conduct of international shooting in the country. Check us out on the web at www.usashooting.org and on Twitter at twitter.com/USAShooting.