AZTEC — Bowling is right up Raymond Johnston's alley.
This month, Johnston, 56, took home the coveted crystal bowling pin champion's trophy at the 2013 U.S. Bowling Congress Senior Championships in Reno, Nev.
Now Aztec can claim bragging rights to officially having the best bowler, ages 55 to 59, in the country.
For Johnston, a right-hander, it was his first trip to the National Bowling Stadium and first time competing at a national level. He struck gold with a total score of 2,270 points.
In June, Johnston won first place at the state bowling championship in Albuquerque, sending him to Reno to represent New Mexico. His Reno entry fees at the nationals were covered for winning in Albuquerque.
"The competition was fierce. I won by just eight pins," Johnston said. "I got lucky. The pins were very forgiving to me."
The pins were so forgiving that he managed to shoot a total of 88 strikes out of a possible 108 in nine games.
"You can hear a lot of pins dropping when Raymond plays," said his father, Robert Johnston. "He's a really good bowler. He won't brag a bit about it one bit, so I've got the job."
Bowling is in his blood. Raymond Johnston grew up in Aztec bowling with his dad and mom, Jan. He has bowled in numerous San Juan County leagues most of his life and currently rolls in two, the Sports League for professionals and another one with his dad, the Men's City League.
The father and son were two-time doubles champions at state competitions in Albuquerque in 2011 and 2012.
"I just try to throw the same ball every time," said the habitually humble Raymond Johnson. "There's no secret to it, other than consistency, really. Just throw a good one and try to do it over and over."
When he's not knocking down pins most evenings at Bowlero Lanes in Farmington, he trades his bowling shirt for his fishing vest.
Seven days a week, Raymond Johnston and his wife, Wanda, keep anglers happy at their fly shop in Bloomfield. In 1997, the couple opened Float 'N Fish Fly Shop and Guide Service, just off of Navajo Dam Road.
Also an avid fly fisherman, Raymond Johnston considers himself "just a regular ol' country bum" with a serious love for the area and for any chance to take rod and reel down to the San Juan River.
But it's his lifelong love of the lanes that have added trophies to his collection.
"He's an easy going guy, but very focused with a bowling ball or fly rod in his hands," said Doug Wright, general manager at Bowlero.
Wright has known Raymond Johnston for more than 30 years.
Earlier this year, hip-replacement surgery sidelined the elder Johnston. Now, Raymond Johnston says he's glad to have his bowling partner back.
"I've been trying to beat my pop at bowling for 50 years," he said. "And I'm still tryin'."