Gulfport’s Craig Martin earns ‘Top Gun’ title at .50 Caliber Rifle World Championships

Published: Jul. 21, 2023 at 7:32 PM CDT
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BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - Gulfport’s Craig Martin is coming off of a .50 Caliber Rifle World Championship in New Mexico and he says with more than two decades of competitive shooting under his belt he has his childhood to thank for his love of firearms.

“I’ve been shooting competitively for about 20 or 25 years or so,” said Martin. “As a kid, I was always interested in guns. My father wasn’t to this level, but he did reloading and we would go to the range.”

At his most recent championship in New Mexico, he outshot more than 60 other competitors from around the world, giving him the top title in multiple categories.

“To win the entire match, you get ‘Top Gun,’” he said. “It’s the two-gun world champion. It means two of your guns, the aggregate was higher than anybody else of their two best guns. Then they do the belt buckle, and I don’t wear belts big enough to sport that around, so it’ll probably get framed with this plaque.”

But his career with the .50 almost wasn’t meant to be the first time he shot one.

“The first time I didn’t like it, and I’ll tell you why, the concussion that comes off of it hits you in the sinuses. Some people liken it to an open hand lightly punching you in the face. It’s not hard or bad, just a little unpleasant,” he said. “At first, I said ‘I don’t think this is for me,’ but after you shoot it a couple times, it goes away and you never feel it again.”

As for what’s next? He says he’s ready to reload for the title and wants to see how far he can stretch the legs of a 50-caliber round.

“Next I’m probably going to try and repeat it next year in New Mexico and I’m going to start doing more of the extreme long range,” he said. “The longest shot that I hit consecutive impacts on was a little over 3400 yards. You have time to wait for the impact, it takes about nine seconds for the bullet flight for it to actually impact.”

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