Top marksman Sgt. Barry Aoki wins state shooting title
LAHAINA — After a malfunction with his weapon dropped him to third place in the 2010 event, Lahaina resident Barry Aoki returned to the top as the reigning title holder of the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) Hawaii State Championships.
The event was held recently at the Ukumehame Range near the base of the West Maui Mountains.
A 1978 graduate of Lahainaluna High School and currently a 20-year veteran with Maui Police Department’s Traffic Division after three years with the Sheriff’s Department, Sgt. Aoki — who won overall titles in 2005-07 and 2009 — regained the championship with a flawless performance.
He gained a 100 percent efficiency rating in the Open Division, putting him atop the overall standings for the elite handgun competitors in Hawaii.
The Hawaii State Handgun Championships are sponsored on a rotating basis between Oahu clubs and the Valley Isle Sport Shooters organization.
This year’s event hosted by the Maui club attracted 43 of the state’s top marksmen to the West Side venue for the competition.
“There are three divisions — Open, Limited-10 and Production — and each has more or different modifications like scopes and compensators, and scores are based on 257 required shots divided by time,” explained Aoki.
Other participants from Maui included Derrick Recaido, Jeff Stone and Dan Clegg.
As a teenager, Aoki began shooting guns hunting at Polipoli and target shooing at Olowalu. Later, Aoki came under the tutelage of policeman Barry Kim.
“He was the one who got me started with serious target shooting and safety issues with these weapons,” Aoki explained.
At age 21, Aoki became legally eligible to purchase a firearm and began his very serious involvement with shooting, leading to his participation in the organization of the Valley Isle Sport Shooters club and as a firearms instructor with MPD since 1994.
“These efforts were for prompting safe gun handling and gathering to shoot at first the police firing range at Wailuku, and then we moved on to Ukumehame,” he said.
As the current state champion, Sgt. Aoki will now represent Hawaii at the 2011 USPSA Open Nationals in Las Vegas, Nevada, in September.
“Guns can be a good thing if used in the right way,” said Aoki. There needs to be the right mindset and emphasis on safe gun handling.
“The competitions are a good challenge, and we’re hoping that more people will get involved in the sport,” he concluded.