In 1979, John Bianchi and Ray Chapman devised a law enforcement training match and dubbed it the Bianchi Cup. In 1984, the National Rifle Association adopted the match as the National Action Pistol Championship. This week, the 35th Annual MidwayUSA & NRA Bianchi Cup is drawing shooters from all over the world.

The Championship is now comprised of four events including Barricade, Practical, Moving Target, and Falling Plates, and is fired under times as short as three seconds and at targets as far as 50 yards out. A perfect score requires keeping all shots within eight inches throughout all these challenges—it’s truly a definitive test of pistol marksmanship and speed. Doug Koenig fired the first perfect score in 1990 and since that time, it almost always takes 192 perfect shots to win the cup.

Tuesday was the opening ceremony and beginning of competition for aggregate shooters who begin the match early in order to allow shooting two guns for the Aggregate Championship. It was also registration day for competitors shooting only one gun. On arriving, we pick up our match packages, get our triggers weighed, and receive our squadding. The squadding ticket assigns the time and location for all four stages of the match. Normally competitors shoot one stage on two days and two stages on one day to complete the 192 shots that comprise the championship.

The bulk of the competition began Wednesday with 290 competitors showing up at pre-assigned stages 15 minutes ahead of their scheduled shooting time. At each stage, the competitor surrenders six rounds of his ammunition that’s choreographed to make sure loads meet the power factor of 120,000. Targets are then drawn and have the competitors’ stickers attached. Each competitor has a range officer who handles the targets and stays with them through the stage. Each stage of the match involves 12 shots at each designated range. It’s the competitor’s responsibility to fire the appropriate number of shots for each string in the stage. There are no alibis or re-fires for gun malfunctions, so having reliable gear means everything.

At the end of Wednesday’s competition, though there are still two days of shooting the four stages that comprise the event, several shooters still hold perfect scores and haven’t dropped a point. In the Practical, Doug Koenig holds the lead with a 480-45x. Six other competitors have clean 480 scores. Nat Forester has the lead in the Barricade event with 24 shooters still clean. Richard Gonsman is leading in the Mover with a 476-25x, and there are seven shooters tied for first place in the Falling Plate event since there is no ability to break ties with x count. The only shooter who’s cleaned two events, and is closer to a perfect match, is Steve Huff.

Early results for the 40 shooters who competed in the aggregate on Tuesday reflect their total scores in those categories. Overall leaders who’ve completed the match are:

  • First Over All Troy Matteneyer 1918-140x
  • First Open Craig Ginger 1918-139x
  • First Metallic Troy Matteneyer 1918-140x
  • First Production Chris Cerino 1799-107x

Image by Dick Jones

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