The 30th Anniversary Bianchi Cup is over, but I know the memories will stay with me for a lifetime. I love this match and it is one of my all time favorites. I think part of the reason is that, unlike many other action shooting sports, there is a perfect score to attain. Knowing what that score is and being able to work towards it is a great motivator for me. This combined with the pure excitement of watching the best shooters in the world compete, knowing exactly what they need to shoot in order to win, is very exciting.
The battle for the Cup came down to two of the sport’s greats, Bruce Piatt and Doug Koenig. Bruce has been the proverbial bridesmaid for a number of years as Doug has driven bullets through the center of the NRA tombstone targets time and time again. Doug has posted 10 years of winning scores, many of these national and world records. His domination of the Bianchi Cup is something that no other competitor has done… ever. Bruce, a New Jersey police officer, has won the coveted championship four times and has proven he is always a top contender.The setting on the final day has looked the same for so many years – the two greats shooting back to back on one of the most demanding tests in pistol shooting, the Mover Event.
Following excellent performances by Carl Bernosky and John Pride, this year Bruce would set the pace in front of Doug. In the stands behind him, fellow competitors and spectators looked on. For the first time all week there was absolute silence at the Green Valley Rifle & Pistol Club in Hallsville, MO. The chatter of competitors sharing their scores and experiences, the blare of the start buzzers, the gunfire – all replaced with pin drop silence as the final two competitors took the stage. In the quiet, the motors of the mover hummed, the target appeared and Bruce’s first shots cracked through the air. When his turn was over he shot a perfect 480 score with 41 out of 48 X-ring hits.
Ready for a grand finale, Doug stepped on the cement pad at the 10-yard line and began his run to either win or lose the Cup. Doug drilled the X-ring at the 10 and 15-yard positions, light shining though the holes pierced through the black center. As he moved back to the 20 and 25-yard lines though, the reigning champion began to uncharacteristically drop shots outside the X. When the mover made its last pass behind the wall, his score was also a perfect 480 but with only 35 X’s. Bruce was the victor.
In the Metallic Sight Division, Rob Leatham, Phil Strader, and Rob Vadasz jockeyed for the leader position throughout the match. In a race that was separated by just 5 points, a close margin in the iron sight divisions, it came down to the Plate Event. Rob cleaned the event and earned the winning title with a score of 1909, 145X. Rounding out the top five was Rob Vadasz, Phil Strader, Mark Owensby and Jerry Miculek.
Once just a subcategory of the Metallic Sight, this year Production was its own Division. Though the smallest in the match with 28 competitors, many were new to the Bianchi Cup. Learning from other action shooting sports, NRA Action Pistol has hopes that this division will serve to encourage new competitors into the sport. One of these newcomers was my fellow Smith & Wesson teammate Annette Aysen who won High Woman at the Ray Chapman Nostalgia Match earlier in the week. Annette placed an impressive 10th overall in her debut.
No stranger to winning Production in other shooting sports, Dave Sevigny won the Production Division in the main event.In the Women’s Division, the field had several national and world champions, Helen Jeavons, Jessie Abbate and of course, Vera Koo. Vera has dominated the Bianchi Cup in a way no other woman has. Like Doug, she has delivered impressive scores year after year. Not only is Vera an extremely talented shooter, she also works to encourage women of all ages to give shooting sports a try. She is an inspiration and it is an honor to compete with her.
I am very proud of my Bianchi Cup performance this year. I dropped 8 points in the Mover Event and 5 points in the Practical Event. With just 5 shots outside the 10-ring I posted my best score at the Bianchi Cup, a 1907, 138X, earned 2nd Place in Master Class and finished 19th overall in the Open Division. The score was good enough to win the Women’s Title and it is my second Bianchi Cup win.
There were many new women this year. There were even four junior females and I congratulate them on shooting the match. It’s not every day that you see young women on the range. It is inspiring. To all the wonderful people who made it possible for them to start their competitive aspirations, I commend you.
The NRA truly put on an amazing event. This is more than just another match. It’s an entire experience. The staff and volunteers work so hard to put it all together and it is through their dedication that this world renowned championship endures. Thank you for giving so much of your time to make it all possible. Thank you also to all the match sponsors who made generous contributions to the match.
The media and web presence through the NRA Blog were unprecedented, giving up to date information about the match. Target Talk Radio and Gun Nuts Radio were on sight reporting. The talented Shooting USA crew were there from start to finish and captured hours of intense footage. Michael Bane’s crew dropped in on the last day to catch the excitement as well. The NRA invited country music celebrity Mark Wills shoot the Nostalgia Match and the Main Event. He also competed head to head with fellow star Michael Peterson in a Celebrity/Pro Shoot Off on Saturday.
Exiting NRA President, John Sigler also made appearances throughout the event and was the speaker at the awards ceremony.Please indulge me as I take the time to say thank you to those who made the win possible for me. First off, thank you to my sponsors Smith & Wesson, Rudy Project, Atlanta Arms & Ammo and CR Speed. I am very fortunate to have their support and use their excellent products.
To my husband and my mother and father in-law, thank you so much for staying home with my daughter and supporting me so that I could compete. A huge thank you to Jay Della Bella for lending me a new scope when mine broke the day before the match and for all your help in getting me squared away to compete. Finally, thank you to everyone who has given me words of encouragement all week. It has meant so much!
A List of the National Champions:
Bianchi Cup Champion: Bruce Piatt – 1920, 185X
Metallic Champion: Rob Leatham – 1909, 145X
Senior Champion: John Pride – 1920, 168X
Junior Champion: Jordan Dick – 1909, 160X
Women’s Champion: Julie Goloski Golob – 1907, 138X
Production Champion: Dave Sevigny – 1806, 101X