In spite of the fact that there was nothing riding on my performance but pride, I was so nervous my knees were trembling. “Shooter ready, stand by, buzuuummmp,” and my first string of the MidwayUSA & NRA Bianchi Cup was underway.

That first string was only six seconds long and my focus moved to executing the fastest smooth draw I could muster. The gun came into my view, my grip came together as I pushed the gun out and I aligned the red dot in the CMore sight on the first of six eight-inch plates. The dot found the center and I pulled the trigger. The first plate fell and I was moving on to the next. It seemed to me I was shooting pretty fast but my final shot went downrange just as the buzzer sounded again and my bullet slapped against a steel plate that was now supported by the stop bar. The last plate didn’t fall.

No matter how much you prepare for something, when push comes to shove and the real deal occurs, the actual doing of something is remarkably different from the practicing of it. Yesterday was the first day of the 2013 MidwayUSA Bianchi Cup and I have the Falling Plate Event behind me. My score was OK for a writer, 37 of 48 plates downed, but not much of a score for a shooter, and I like to think of myself as a shooter. I’ve hit as many as 45 of 48 plates, but I was shooting in the National Action Pistol Championship, and when the big event comes, most shooters don’t do as well as they wish. I was looking for at least 42, but the pressure got to me.

Over the next two days, competitors will continue to cycle through the four events that comprise the championship. I’ll be shooting the Moving Target Event and the Barricade Event today and, provided I can manage my match nerves, I plan to do better. Time will tell.

Later, I watched a shooter from Germany shoot the plates. He was a very good shooter shooting a revolver in the open class. He cleaned the 10-yard line. Then he cleaned the 15-, the 20-, and the first string of the 25-yard line. I sat on the bleachers and pulled for him. When the buzzer sounded I focused on his hits on each plate as if I were shooting but, as he fired the last shot, the buzzer sounded again and that last plate stood, hit but protected from falling by the stop bar. I imagined how he felt, coming so close to a perfect score and just being too slow on the last string of the last yard line.

“Staying clean,” that is not firing a miss on a plate or a shot outside the 10 ring, has been a prerequisite for winning the Bianchi Cup the last few years. If you can stay clean, you will win or lose based on the number of hits you have. As of the end of the first day of competition, there are three competitors who are still clean after two stages and 24 that are clean after one stage. That number will fall every day until all the stages are fired, the dust settles and the Xs are counted. Then we’ll know who will hold the coveted MidwayUSA Bianchi Cup title for 2013.

Image courtesy Dick Jones

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