There were 50 NRA Action Pistol shooters that converged on the high plains of southeastern Wyoming for the 2022 Steamboat Challenge NRA Action Pistol Regional and Wyoming State Championship. The match was fired August 19-21 at the Otto Road Shooting Range in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
This was the eighth Steamboat Challenge NRA Action Pistol match. The name pays homage to Steamboat, a Wyoming-bred bucking horse from more than 100 years ago considered by many as the greatest bucking horse of all time. Steamboat was enshrined in the Rodeo Hall of Fame and is the State symbol of Wyoming.
Weather for the match this year at the Steamboat Challenge was optimal—just like in the song “Home on the Range.” Specifically, “Where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day.”
The Steamboat Challenge weekend boasts multiple shooting events. On Friday afternoon, we had the “Two-Gun Aggregate” match, which requires a competitor to shoot a different type of gun over the same course of fire used for Saturday’s Regional. After the Regional, the two scores are combined, with awards presented to the high scoring shooter in the Rimfire and Centerfire Aggregate, along with the high scorer in the Centerfire Aggregate.
Walter Johnson of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit was the winner of the Rimfire and Centerfire Aggregate with a score of 3818-354X. His AMU teammate, Anthony Heinauer, topped the leaderboard in the Centerfire Aggregate with a score of 3822-310X.
Saturday was the Regional match, which featured the four traditional Bianchi Cup events that make up the annual Action Pistol National Championship. Since 1979, the Barricade, Practical, Moving Target and the Falling Plates have stood the test of time, requiring speed and precision under heavy time pressure. A total of 192 shots are fired, with a maximum possible score of 1920-192X. Additionally, NRA Regional medallions were presented to the top three shooters in each Action Pistol division at the 2022 Steamboat Challenge.
2022 Steamboat Challenge NRA Action Pistol Regional Leaderboard
- Gold: Mark Itzstein, Frisco, Texas, 1907-149X
- Silver: Shawn Becker, Harpers Ferry, W.V., 1907-142X
- Bronze: Walter Johnson, Pine Mountain, Ga., 1900-176X
METALLIC SIGHTS DIVISION
- Gold: Ryan Franks, Ellerslie, Ga., 1910-144X
- Silver: Jason Crawford, Pomerene, Ariz., 1835-128X
- Bronze: JP Lefebvre, Oklahoma City, Okla., 1811-99X
- Gold: Christopher Hudock, Ft. Benning, Ga., 1895-133X
- Silver: Jeremy David, Laredo, Texas, 1878-125X
- Bronze: Andy Rayland, Cheyenne, Wy., 1757-99X
PRODUCTION OPTICS DIVISION
- Gold: Anthony Heinauer, Opelika, Ala., 1910-160X (High Overall)
- Silver: Joe Neuroth, Columbus, Ga., 1893-132X
- Bronze: Luke Buchser, Murrieta, Calif., 1878-119X
- Gold: Bridger Steege, Cheyenne, Wy., 1719-131X
The Wyoming State Championship, also known as “The Battle for the Buckles,” was contested on Sunday. Custom championship belt buckles were presented to the top three overall competitors, along with a special buckle award for the high scoring shooter entered in the special category of “Traditional Values—Production Revolver.” In addition, special “Horseshoe” awards were presented to the competitors with the high aggregate scores for the Regional and State matches.
To add positive pressure to the State match, two of the four events were unknown to the competitors until Saturday. The State match consisted of two classic Bianchi Cup events—the Moving Target (Modified) and Falling Plates, plus two more randomly determined by spinning a wheel—they were the Barricade (Modified) and the Speedload Challenge. Both events are in the NRA Action Pistol rulebook and, in most cases, rarely contested at the Regional and State levels.
The Barricade (Modified) is similar to the traditional Barricade match, but requires shooting one side of barricade, then reloading the handgun and shooting from the other side of the barricade, at variable distances to the targets under time pressure.
As for the Speedload Challenge, it’s similar to the traditional Practical, but requires shooting at three targets from variable distances with a reload under time pressure, and some of the stages are fired weak- and strong-hand only. A total of 192 shots allows for a maximum possible score of 1920-192X.
2022 NRA Action Pistol Wyoming State Championship Leaderboard
- 1st Place and State Champion: Anthony Heinauer, Opelika, Ala., 1906-154X
- 2nd Place: Joey DeLeon, Laredo, Texas, 1898-148X
- 3rd Place: Ryan Franks, Ellerslie, Ga., 1897-141X
- Women’s State Champion: Julie Golob, Kearney, Mo., 1871-145X
- “Traditional Values—Production Revolver” Winner: Christopher Hudock, Ft. Benning Ga., 1766-94X
Major sponsors of the 2022 Steamboat Challenge were extremely generous with in-kind donations for the competitors’ prize table. We want to thank them for their support of this match and promotion of competitive shooting sports: Vortex Optics, Magpul, CheyCast Bullets, Hogue, Hunters HD Gold, Hi-Viz Shooting Systems, Burris Optics, Starline Brass, Redding Reloading Equipment, UniqueTek and ProtoCall Design.
Thanks to Mark Eisele of King Ranch, and Hank and Dee VanGoethen of the Otto Road Shooting Range for the use of their facilities and support for the match weekend.
Next year’s Steamboat Challenge will be held August 18-20, 2023 at the Otto Road Shooting Range in Cheyenne, Wyoming. See you in ‘Ol Cheyenne!