We’re right around the corner of what is arguably the most prestigious event in shooting. From May 20-23, 2015, the best action pistol shooters from all over the world will converge at the Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Club in Columbia, Missouri to shoot it out at the NRA Bianchi Cup. Sponsored by Midway USA, the Bianchi Cup is arguably the top shooting event of the year as it places a premium on accuracy in a variety of shooting scenarios.
The event is grueling, meaning competitors won’t be able to claim top honors by focusing on a single discipline. Comprised of four “matches” including Practical, Barricade, Moving Target and Falling Plates, shooters must excel at short range, long range, steel plates, shooting prone with handguns, and moving targets.
Bianchi rewards accuracy, so speed alone won’t improve the x-ring scores. Each of the four events offers a perfect score of 480 points with the opportunity to gain 192 tie-breaking x-ring scores over the entire match. If you reverse engineer the scoring math, you’ll note that the event represents just 192 shots. It’s not unusual for a number of people to shoot perfect 1920 scores, with winners determined by the number of X-ring hits within the 10-ring circle. Just to clarify, NRA Action Pistol scores are recorded as Total Points followed by the number of X-ring hits. For example, the winning score in 2014 was 1920-171x.
The 2015 MidwayUSA & NRA Bianchi Cup will award the World Famous Silver Bianchi Cup as well as Division & Category Champion Trophy Cups to the Metallic, Production, Ladies, Juniors & Seniors.
Who’s going to win this year? That’s up for grabs. Let’s take a look at some of the top prospects to take home the men’s, women’s, and junior’s trophies. In random order…
Doug Koenig has won Bianchi infinity plus nineteen times, or so it seems. Being the first competitor to attain a perfect score back in 1990, he’s continued his dominating run with championships thirteen of the past seventeen years. He has a total of 15 Bianchi wins in his lifetime – so far. In 2014, he was edged out by Kevin Angstadt, who shot a perfect score of 1920 with 171 x-ring hits. As a side note, Koenig shot perfect scores in all 13 of his recent Bianchi championships. You can bet Doug is motivated this year after being edged out in 2014.
This year, watch out for the guy who’s been thinking “if only I hadn’t pulled that one shot…”
Team Smith & Wesson shooter Julie Golob has won Bianchi three times over the past eight years. This year, she’s battling back injuries, but I wouldn’t rule her out. This lady has more positive attitude than Luke Skywalker. Besides, it would be foolhardy to rule out a competitor who manufactures their own caffeine. Yes, Julie roasts her own beans, and with blends like Double Tap Roast and Powder Burn, you know she’s really focused on her shooting game.
The last time that Leatham won top overall honors at Bianchi was 1985, the only year in which the Practical Event was temporarily replaced by the 60-shot, 600 points International Rapid-Fire Event. Does that tell us something about Rob’s preferred shooting style? Maybe. But then again, in that year, Leatham won the unofficial Triple Crown of shooting: Bianchi, the Steel Challenge, and the IPSC Nationals.
I’m old enough to remember watching Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man. With new bionic knees, Springfield Armory Captain Rob Leatham might just reassert his ownership of the well-deserved moniker The Great One. When I asked him about that nickname, he humbly informed me that the real “Great One” was Wayne Gretzky, and before that, Jackie Gleason. Don’t let the humility fool you though, this guy has won 24 USPSA National titles and infinity others. Oh, and he won the Production Division at Bianchi in 2014.
In 2014, Kevin Angstadt achieved his top two goals. The first was to shoot a perfect score at Bianchi. The second was to win the event. Many years, being “perfect” isn’t good enough, you have to edge out the competition with more tie-breaking x-ring hits.
They say the hardest accomplishment in sports is to repeat a championship the following year. With his perfect 1920 score in 2014, Angstadt has his work cut out for him in 2015.