The target appeared from behind the wall and by the time my gun cleared the holster and I got the red dot on cardboard, it was a third of the way across the 60-foot opening. My first shot felt good and the rest were lost in the concentration that was required to keep the dot just ahead of the black X ring moving 10 feet per second from right to left. I felt good about those six shots. I checked my position, felt the grip of the gun in the holster, put my hands back to the surrender position and waited for the target to appear from the left side wall.

I did pretty well on the mover in my second day of the 2013 MidwayUSA & NRA Bianchi Cup competition. I had a few misses, one from just getting behind on time and another from a reckless grab at the trigger, but I had a lot of 10s and several in the X rings. I walked away feeling that my Bianchi jitters were vanquished and that I’d shoot like I was supposed to for the next two stages.

That feeling of security melted away at the first stage of the Barricades. I drew, found my grip and the red dot, and began to shoot. Through the CMore sight, I could see a nest of 10s forming in the X ring and was mentally congratulating myself when the target abruptly swung back around with my time elapsed. My spotter stepped up and told me I’d saved a round. I reprimanded myself for trying to shoot in the X ring and forgetting about time as I prepared to shoot off the other side of the barricade. The target turned and I hammered several shots into the 10 ring. I say several because, at about the fourth shot, it occurred to me that I wasn’t counting. I guessed at the shot count and stopped just as the targets pivoted back around. This time my spotter advised me I’d fired too many shots. I did have a few six-shot strings I’m proud of, but I just couldn’t put it together on the Barricades.

Putting it together is what separates the winners from the losers in the Bianchi Cup. You have to have the best equipment; you have to prepare meticulously and you have to manage your mind to prevent daydreaming about high X counts in the middle of a five-second, six-shot string of fire. There is simply no room for equipment failure, poor planning, or lost concentration. To do well in this match, you have to be fast, accurate, and infallible. The slightest misstep and you’re off the A-list for a win.

If it sounds like the Bianchi is a torture test and competitors might dread showing up for the next day, I can assure you, this is not the case. The Bianchi is tough, but it is also fun. For all but the most serious few, the mistakes can be taken with a dose of humility and humor and the pain soon fades. Someone always has a sadder, or funnier, story than yours. Mostly, though, the people are what make the Bianchi so much fun. Imagine spending you day around the legends of the sport as well as newcomers, all celebrating the joys of recreational shooting.

The Bianchi also makes me appreciate the country I live in and the Second Amendment. With so many international shooters, it’s obvious that we, as Americans, are blessed with freedoms and economic equality most countries don’t enjoy. Wall Street bankers shoot shoulder to shoulder with plumbers and many times the plumber has the best equipment and score. There are complete families of shooters, young people, old people, and almost every demographic this great country has to offer.

With Memorial Day just around the corner, the Bianchi Cup is just another reminder that others have given much for us to have the rights and freedoms we have. This weekend, we need to honor their sacrifices and make a pledge to do our best to protect all they gave so much to preserve. Let’s spend our Memorial Day remembering those who didn’t come home and the rest of this year showing some gratitude and respect to those who did.

Who’s still clean in the 35th MidwayUSA & NRA Bianchi Cup?

Of the last 16 Bianchi Cups, 15 have been won with a perfect score. For a competitor to have a reasonable chance of hoisting the Cup in the awards ceremony there is no room for a shot outside the 10 ring. Two days into the Bianchi Cup, there are still six competitors who still haven’t dropped a point. They are Doug Koenig, Bruce Piatt, Carl Bernosky, Kevin Angstadt, Andy Krantz, and Timothy Altenburg. While it is possible for someone else to win, it would mean that none of these six competitors shoot a clean match today.

Image by Dick Jones

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