by John Parker - Wednesday, July 27, 2016
This past May at the Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Club in Columbia, MO, Doug Koenig won the overall aggregate for the 17th time at the Bianchi Cup Action Pistol Championship, presented by MidwayUSA. Koenig won his first Bianchi Cup in 1990, and was the first to ever finish the match with a perfect score. Since then, he has achieved a perfect score in all but one year at the world’s most prestigious action pistol championship.
Koenig defeated 205 other competitors across multiple divisions, securing a perfect score in both Match X and the Colt Championship Final. Koenig was using his Safariland Model 014 holster and customized Model 032 ELS belt.
Many competitive pistol shooters consider the Bianchi Cup the ultimate test for both the shooter’s skills and their equipment. Each competitor must complete four events that emphasize accuracy at multiple distances for each stage. The Practical Event emphasizes accurate shooting, including weak-hand only, from distances ranging from 10 to 50 yards. The Barricade Event has shooters placing shots on target at distances ranging from 10 to 35 yards. The Moving Target Event requires competitors to hit targets sliding across a 60-foot track, again at varying distances. In the Olin "Oli" C. Barjenbruch Falling Plate Event, shooters must engage steel plate racks, in order from 10, 15, 20, and 25 yards.
New for this year, after completion of the match’s 1920-point aggregate (Match X) the top 36 competitors repeated the course-of-fire for Saturday’s Colt Championship Final. Scores from the Colt Championship Final were combined into an overall aggregate to determine the Bianchi Cup champions.
SFC Patrick Franks of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) won his second consecutive Bianchi Cup Metallic title. Franks also won the NRA National Pistol Championship at Camp Perry last year. Robert Vadasz of the U.S. Border Patrol Pistol team placed second in Metallic with a score of 3799-283X.
Regarding successfully defending his Metallic win last year, Franks said, “I really wanted to come back here and have a repeat of what I did last year, our first year. It was very rewarding, knowing I had to fall back on my previous training and the mentality of being able to walk up to the line and be able to focus on the task at hand and not try to overthink it, but just do what we know how to do best.”
This year, each position on the Bianchi Cup Production Division podium was occupied by a competitor using a Springfield Armory pistol. SFC Adam Sokolowski of the AMU won the Production Championship shooting his XD (M) 5.25” Competition Series 9mm. SFC Michael Gasser, also from the AMU, and Springfield Armory’s own Rob Leatham claimed second and third, respectively.
About his win, Sokolowski said, “It definitely feels awesome to win. Last year, I was shooting well and then missed two plates and that cost me the championship. This year, I missed one plate at the last yard line, and I was pretty upset, but in the end I shot better than last year.”
After Sokolowski officially won the Production Championship, Rob Leatham commented, “Losing is never fun, but I honestly couldn’t think of two people I would rather have beat me—I’m proud to call Adam and Michael friends. Congratulations guys, and thanks for showing the world how awesome and accurate the XD (M) shoots!”
Tiffany Piper of New Zealand won her first Bianchi Cup Women’s Championship this year with a score of 3802-286X. She said, “I have been competing in the Bianchi Cup for nearly 10 years and I have always dreamed of this day when I would win the Women’s Division. Congratulations to all of the other women for a great event and all of the other top winners, you all rock!"
When asked about the gear she used at Bianchi she said, “I barely ever change anything I use, I like the old saying if it’s not broke don’t fix it. Most of this gear I have been shooting with for 10 years now. I use a Springfield 1911 chambered in .38 Super with a Leupold Gilmore Scope. For ammo, I use Atlanta Arms and Ammo .38 Super 115-grain minor load. My belt is a Safariland ELS and my holster is a Bianchi Hemisphere also by Safariland.”
Tiffany has been competing at the Bianchi Cup since she was 13. When asked if any memories stand out the most to her she said, “The friends I have made that I consider extended family. They have watched me grow up both physically and within the shooting sports, which I think is something pretty unique coming all the way from New Zealand. All the tips and tricks I have gotten over the years and the generosity and kindness other shooters have shown me by going out of their way to help people with training or gun issues.”
Brothers Tim and Sean Yackley finished first and fourth place, respectively, in this year's Bianchi Cup Junior Championship. The two young shooters attend the match every year with their mom, Becky Yackley. Both Tim and Becky Yackley have been featured in the monthly SSUSA "Range Bag" column. Tim finished this year's Junior Championship with a score of 3784-304X, nine points ahead of second place, Jonah Avenell. Readers may remember earlier this year when Jonah and his father were featured in SSUSA.
Colton Cerino finished in third place with a score of 3705-241X. He attended the match with his parents Chris and Michelle Cerino, both of whom are frequent contributors to SSUSA. Colton will be attending college in the fall, working on a career in firearms engineering.
Longtime NRA Action Pistol competitor Kim Beckwith of Zero Bullets won the Bianchi Cup Senior Championship with a score of 3813-298X. See Kim and Fred Stallings in this video at the 2012 Bianchi Cup.
Beckwith was able to weather the inaugural Bianchi Cup Colt Championship Final, finishing 15 points ahead of second place Jay Gardner. Charles Crawford finished in third place with a score of 3715-236X. [Editor's Note: The Colt Championship Final replaced the previous Colt Speed Event and Celebrity Pro-Am on Saturday at the Cup.]
Kyle Schmidt shot a perfect score in Match X this year. He received a 1920 plaque at the awards ceremony, presented by Julie Golob of Team Smith & Wesson.
The full results of this year's championship can be viewed here: compete.nra.org/documents/pdf/compete/natpdf/bianchi_16.pdf.
Learn more about the Bianchi Cup by clicking here.
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