The world’s top pistoleros headed to the United States to compete in the 2016 NRA Bianchi Cup, the most prestigious Action Pistol Match on the calendar. The Bianchi Cup, also known as the National Action Pistol Championships, was held from May 24 to 28 at the Green Valley Rifle & Pistol Club in Columbia, Missouri.
This edition of the Bianchi Cup was more exciting than ever with a change in format breaking from tradition. The original Bianchi Cup is held over three days with the highest score being the winner. This is called Match X. However, this time, the NRA added another match to determine the outcome. The new Colt Championship Final put the top competitors by class and division in what was essentially a second firing of the match. The scores for both Match X (original 1920) and the Colt Championship Final 1920 on Saturday was totalled to determine the overall winners.
The leading 16 shooters - the top four in each of Metallic, Production, Ladies, Juniors and Seniors - all had a shoot-off in their divisions. As if the Bianchi Cup wasn’t enough pressure, the NRA had the top 16 shooters after they shot Practical, Barricades and Falling Plates shoot the two upper Moving Targets (Movers) side by side with the lowest score shooting first and highest last. This was all on a big screen 6x3m TV with every shot on the target larger than life. This was telecast live to one of the US shooting channels.
In the end, the winner was Doug Koenig. Doug made history with a record-setting 17th Bianchi Cup Action Pistol Championships title. He shot a perfect score of 1920 with 183-Xs in Match X and was the last one to shoot in the Colt Championship Final shoot-off on the Mover. There on the big screen TV, he backed back it up with another perfect score of 1920 with 178-Xs. At the presentation dinner Doug said that of all the shooting he does through the year, the Bianchi Cup has the most pressure. He said it went from three days of no sleep to now five days of no sleep with the new NRA format.
The revamp gave the top 16 shooters a second chance at the Bianchi Cup and also an opportunity to climb the ladder to move closer to the top if you made a few mistakes in Match X. Unfortunately for some shooters, the additional pressure of shooting twice, the big screen TV, the huge group of spectators and for some, gun malfunctions, meant that the leaderboard exhibited a lot of changes.
SSAA team member Richard Siebert was lucky enough to just scrape into the top 16 for the Colt Championship Final shoot-off, with a score of 1910-159Xs. Richard climbed the ladder to number 13 with 1904-146Xs.
This year, the SSAA team trained at the Flagler range in Florida prior to the Flagler Cup held on the weekend before the Bianchi Cup. The plan was to gain some uninterrupted training then shoot the Flagler Cup under match pressure ahead of the Bianchi Cup. The training paid off for one of our team members, Steve Schrader, who won the Flagler Cup with a 1918-157Xs. Steve also shot a perfect score on the Barricades of 480-48Xs.
He backed his Barricade score up at the Bianchi Cup with another perfect score of 480-48Xs. A shoot-off on the Barricade was against four other shooters after all of them had fired the seven-second string at 35 yards. It was up to Steve and Kyle Schmidt to shoot again the 35 yards string, this time in six seconds. The result came down to the last shot on the right side of Barricade where they both fired at exactly the same time. Unfortunately, Steve’s closing shot resulted in a skid, which was just over the maximum 1.5 times bullet diameter, while Kyle’s made it due to his higher velocity. This put Steve in second place on the Barricades.
There were great expectations for Steve as he had been shooting very well for the previous 12 months. After the Mover, Steve was sitting on a potential 11th position in the top 16 shoot-off with only Falling Plates to go the next day. When Plates day rolled around, he was feeling confident and composed, with no nerves at all. The buzzer went off and he drew to line up the centre on the first plate... Click - Oh no! He kept going to successfully shoot again at the first plate and then moved steadily across the plates, increasing the grip and cycling that cylinder as fast as he could. After two further rotations on the last plate, it was still standing before the six-second buzzer went with the plates locked out. Unfortunately, the primer still didn’t ignite. He had just dropped 10 points. He maintained composure and shot the other 42 plates, with a total of 47 plates. That dud primer cost him a finish in 13th place in the top 16.
SSAA team members Mark Blake and Raymond Penney both had good solid scores. Mark tallied a 1908-165Xs. Two points behind was Ray with a 1906-143Xs. That put Mark in 17th place, just missing out in the top-16 shoot-off.
Australia was well represented at the Bianchi Cup with 20 shooters. We had five first-timers at the Cup and three first-timers that had not shot any Action Match competition before the Cup, with only practice at their local club. All the scores combined by the SSAA Action Match team put them in second spot overall with the American team in first place.
|Midway USA NRA Bianchi Cup - 2016|
|Comp #||Competitor||Practical||Barricade||Mover Plates Event III||Mover Plates Event IV||Bianchi|
Cup Event X
|1||1||O||DOUG KOENIG||480 - 46||480 - 46||480 - 43||480 - 48||1920 - 183|
|2||4||O||KYLE SCHMIDT||480 - 33||480 - 48||480 - 35||480 - 98||1920 - 164|
|3||36||O||GREG DAVIS||478 - 38||480 - 48||480 - 31||480 - 50||1918 - 165|
|4||124||O||GREG DICK||478 - 37||480 - 43||480 - 31||480 - 55||1918 - 159|
|5||154||O||TROY MATTHEYER||478 - 39||480 - 42||480 - 26||480 - 55||1918 - 155|
|6||209||O||BRUCE PIATT||480 - 47||480 - 47||476 - 41||480 - 88||1916 - 183|
|7||5||O||KEVIN ANGSTADT||478 - 34||480 - 47||478 - 36||480 - 49||1916 - 165|
|8||208||O||LAWRENCE CLEVELAND||480 - 44||480 - 43||474 - 33||480 - 59||1914 - 168|
|9||13||O||MARK ITZSTEIN||473 - 34||480 - 44||480 - 34||480 - 52||1913 - 160|
|10||159||O||CRAIG GINGER||480 - 37||480 - 45||472 - 32||480 - 65||1912 - 162|
|11||19||O||BENITO MARTINEZ||480 - 39||480 - 38||472 - 27||480 - 50||1912 - 152|
|12||2||O||JEREMY NEWELL||475 - 42||480 - 47||476 - 35||480 - 58||1911 - 172|
|13||20||O||BRETT FOSTER||475 - 36||480 - 48||476 - 28||480 - 49||1911 - 160|
|14||160||O||ANDREW PENNEY||475 - 34||480 - 46||476 - 25||480 - 48||1911 - 153|
|15||43||O||JEC CLARK||480 - 34||478 - 44||473 - 27||480 - 60||1911 - 153|
|16||102||O||RICHARD SIEBERT||480 - 43||480 - 45||470 - 23||480 - 51||1910 - 159|
|17||6||O||MARK BLAKE||478 - 38||480 - 47||470 - 32||480 - 48||1908 - 165|
|18||17||O||ALLAN HARRIMAN||476 - 29||480 - 46||472 - 28||480 - 51||1908 - 151|
|19||30||O||KIM BECKWITH||478 - 34||480 - 40||470 - 28||480 - 48||1908 - 150|
|20||15||O||TONY HOLMES||478 - 39||480 - 47||468 - 29||480 - 61||1906 - 163|
|21||54||O||FRANK KEMM||478 - 31||480 - 43||468 - 24||480 - 51||1906 - 146|
|22||103||O||RAYMOND PENNEY||473 - 29||480 - 45||473 - 21||480 - 48||1906 - 143|
|23||170||O||TIFFANY PIPER||476 - 36||480 - 47||468 - 23||480 - 48||1904 - 154|
|24||11||O||KARL PIPER||478 - 33||480 - 44||464 - 26||480 - 48||1902 - 151|
|25||14||O||STEVE WEATHERSBY||472 - 32||480 - 44||470 - 22||480 - 53||1902 - 146|
|26||83||O||STEVE SCHRADER||473 - 33||480 - 48||478 - 35||470 - 47||1901 - 163|
|27||205||M||PATRICK FRANKS||474 - 31||476 - 32||471 - 29||480 - 53||1901 - 140|
|28||61||O||TOMO HASEGAWA||478 - 36||480 - 45||462 - 22||480 - 52||1900 - 151|
|29||127||O||JAY GARDNER||478 - 31||480 - 40||470 - 22||470 - 47||1898 - 140|
|30||104||O||JOHN BECK||480 - 35||470 - 41||467 - 25||480 - 58||1897 - 149|
|31||196||M||ROBERT VADASZ||471 - 27||478 - 31||478 - 33||470 - 47||1897 - 138|
|32||58||O||TAKUMI SUZUKI||478 - 37||474 - 38||464 - 27||480 - 59||1896 - 150|
|33||136||O||HISAYA ISHII||478 - 22||480 - 44||478 - 33||460 - 46||1896 - 145|