My name was called and I walked to the firing line followed by my competitor in the Bianchi Cup Colt Steel Challenge. The Celebrity Pro/Am Steel Challenge is the final match of the MidwayUSA & NRA Bianchi Cup National Action Pistol Championships. That final event signals the beginning of the outdoor awards ceremony, crowning the National Champions. I was shooting because I’m in the media, and there’s a celebrity category for media. My competitor was also a media competitor who’d competed in the Bianchi for her first time this year. She was writing about her experiences and having a wonderful time, in spite of the fact that she’s not really a pistol shooter—her area of expertise is classic shotguns.

The Colt Steel Challenge is a duel on steel targets for speed. The first competitor to successfully complete their five shots wins the duel. The winner is the best two of three. Just before we took our respective positions before five identical pepper poppers, I moved closer to her, wrapped my arms around her, bent her back, and gave her a big kiss. After all, my competitor was also my wife, Cherie Jones, and I wanted a good-luck kiss. There’s always two stories in a competition between two people, and our case is no different. My story is that I held back on the last shot of the third duel so she could win; her story is a little different, but that’s water under the bridge.

My couple’s competition was last year, and the real story is that this week will be the 35th Annual Bianchi Cup National Action Pistol Championship. The best pistol shooters in the world will converge on the Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Range in Columbia, Missouri to vie for the coveted Bianchi Cup. Five days of shooting and four different courses of fire that require both precision and speed will challenge them, and eventually, Doug Koenig will emerge as the winner (well, that’s been the end result for 11 of the last 13 Bianchi Cups). The fact is that the Bianchi Cup is a tough match and eventually someone will end Koenig’s reign—and this just might be the year.

The competition at the Bianchi is stiff and the best pistol shooters in the world are there, yet it’s the most fun and casual shooting event I’ve ever attended. This will be my fourth Bianchi and I can’t wait to get started. Not only is the shooting fun and challenging, everyone has the opportunity to shoot beside and talk to the best pistol competitors in the world. Squadding is random, so you might shoot with anyone. Three of the five nights have social events so competitors not only shoot together on the range, they spend evenings at receptions and dinners.

This year, I’ll be shooting a Springfield Armory XDm 5.25, with a Blade-Tech OWB Competition holster, and Remington 9x19mm ammunition in Production class. I have no illusions about glory, but I have high expectations for fun. The 2014 MidwayUSA Bianchi Cup is the pistol competition of the season. It’s challenging, fun, and populated by the nicest people in the shooting industry and culture. I can’t wait to get started.

Image courtesy Dick Jones

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