The first day of competition was described as “cold and miserable” by Koenig during his championship speech at the awards ceremony. Rain-soaked shooting mats and low temperatures in the 50s made for terrible shooting conditions. Match staff raked gravel between strings and created channels for the water to keep it out of competitors’ way during the competition.
Anita Mackiewicz of Australia was this year’s Woman Champion with a score of 1916-166X. A revolver shooter, Mackiewicz broke her long-standing record from her 1998 Bianchi Cup win by two points. Dropping four points on the Moving Target Event this year, Anita just missed becoming the first woman ever to fire a perfect score at the match. She placed 7th overall, and early on, several competitors told me she had a very good chance of winning it outright. Next year at Bianchi, it might be a female instead of a male receiving the skirt award!
The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) was in full force this year at the Cup, represented by some of their best action pistol competitors. It was the first time at the Bianchi Cup for SSG Patrick Franks, this year’s Metallic Champion. SSG Franks fired a personal best, 1902-140X, narrowly beating Rob Vadasz by two points. The 2014 Champion, Kevin Worrell of the USMC Reserve Pistol team placed 3rd with a score of 1900-126X. Regarding his win, Franks said “he met and exceeded his goal of being in the top 10 in his first year at the competition.” Some of SSG Franks’s other accomplishments at the 2015 Bianchi Cup included: High Expert, High Service, High Newcomer, as well as 1st place in Metallic for the Barricade Event with a score of 476-31X.
Enoch Smith’s score of 1874-137X beat out Dave Sevigny by one point to clinch the Production Championship. Last year’s Production Champion, Rob Leatham (see our interview with Rob in the March SSUSA) placed 3rd in the Production Division, with a score of 1870-139X.
As with all competitions, drama always make an appearance. This year there was an incident at the match when a cameraman interfered with the action. A junior competitor was firing the Falling Plate Event and went clean at 10 yards, and in his first string at 15 yards. He was going prone at 15 yards and in doing so on his second string, kicked the leg of a cameraman and by the time he resettled he missed the first plate. The competitor was advised to inform match staff prior to leaving the range, and the Deputy Match Director Pat Cooper verified the incident with staff and witnesses. She asked Match Director Dennis Willing what should be done. Dennis granted the competitor a re-fire for that string only.
The protest rectified the competitor’s situation, but that might not always be the case. Each incident is different. If you stop shooting, then you do not accept the conditions of your shooting environment, and you are allowed to fire the string without penalty. If you continue to fire, in effect, you have accepted the conditions presented to you and, having accepted the conditions, you get the score that you fired. Moral of the story: if someone or something interferes with your string, don’t fire, and inform match officials immediately of any problems. Most likely, you will end up with a reshoot.
The Awards Ceremony was the fastest one in recent memory, allowing plenty of time for Doug Koenig to give a memorable victory speech. Koenig first thanked the match sponsors and staff, and his wife and family for supporting his career as a pro shooter. The champion’s final remarks stood out, as he thanked the other competitors at the match:
“The winning. . . I'm not going to say it's not great…but it's really not about the winning or the scores. It's about the friendships and the people, the stories and the jokes, all the things that go on at the practice range, and crazy things that happen at the match. Those are the things I'll always remember and that's what makes the Bianchi Cup important. You guys are my extended family and I'm proud to be a part of it.”
Yet Koenig and fellow competitors were saddened to learn that Bill Laughridge, a Bianchi Cup institution has entered semi-retirement this year, and the familiar Cylinder & Slide trailer, which has parked in the same spot for decades, was no longer there. Former Managing Editor of Shooting Sports USA Chip Lohman summed it up best: “This year in place of where Bill used to park his Cylinder & Slide gunsmith trailer, were a few parked trucks. So seeing a hot dog cart where that fine restaurant used to be, was a melancholy moment.” Bill, your presence, as well as your amazing gunsmithing skills, will be missed at Bianchi.
Another memorable occasion, although it harbored different emotions, was by Trevor Baucom, who made history this year when he became the first Bianchi Cup competitor ever to go prone from a wheelchair. Trevor, on his final string during the Practical Event, was able to do this remarkable feat thanks to helpful competitors who were able to get him back in his chair. Trevor ended up with his Practical score higher than all his other event scores—398-12X, a full 30 points higher than his next best event, the Mover. Well done Trevor!
2015 MidwayUSA & NRA Bianchi Cup Champions
|Bianchi Cup Champion
|SSG Patrick Franks
|SSG Patrick Franks
This past April, the SSUSA website featured this poll question: Every year since 1997, one of three competitors has won the Bianchi Cup. Who do you think will be this year’s Bianchi Cup Action Pistol Champion?
Doug Koenig – Winner 67.11%
Kevin Angstadt 11.84%
Bruce Piatt 10.53%
With 37 total Bianchi Cup Action Pistol Championships held, Doug Koenig has competed in 28 of them. How do previous champions with multiple wins stack up against Doug’s 16-peat? Here is a hint, the next closest is Bruce Piatt, with five.
|1990*, 1992, 1998, 2000–2005, 2007, 2008, 2010–2013, 2015
|1993, 1997, 1999, 2006, 2009
|1980, 1981, 1982, 1996
|1987, 1988, 1994, 1995
|W. Riley Gilmore
*First perfect score fired