People who are passionate about what they do are key to building anything in life – whether its a vibrant online community, such as the women of The WON have created or a family project or a shooting event on the range. In other words, attributed to my friend Julie Golob, “Passion trumps perfect.” With an event, such as the prestigious Bianchi Cup, you can see that passion in the shooting sports at work – and it’s not always happening on the firing lines. Match volunteers are equally as passionate about the shooting sports.
Not a Soccer Mom is sponsored by Jagemann Sporting Group
The Bianchi Cup hosts legends like Rob Leatham and of course, Julie Golob, to locals from the Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Club who have been a part of the event for decades. That’s right, there are people so passionate about the shooting sports that they not only volunteer their time and energy, but also, they’ve been committing to show up for 20 to 30 years. That demands respect. That’s the sort of passion that grows young female shooters from their childhood and nurtures them into adult competitors. The sort of passion that welcomes families into competition and makes sure they can navigate squad matrixes and schedules and all compete strongly. That’s the sort of passion that builds a local event into something people travel the world over to attend. Bianchi Cup hosts shooters from around the country and world every year in the Midwest.
These volunteers and their decades of effort didn’t just materialize out of thin air. They are cultivated. That cultivation takes leadership. Leadership that recognizes people’s strengths and gives them the bandwidth to lead others.
Some of my favorite people who volunteer at this match are the guys over working at the practice range. They don’t work on the main range. They don’t get the glamour detail. What they do is fix the moving target sticks, replace batteries and cans of spray paint, and make sure people have information or tools they need to keep the practice range running. And pretty much every competitor uses the practice range to confirm zero, function fire and just … practice. Those same 2 gentlemen have been there for the last 5 years I’ve shot the match and I’m sure many more before. That’s not glamorous passion, but it’s passionate dedication that deserves respect. It’s what makes something that could be an ordinary week in Missouri turn into an amazing opportunity for competitors from all over the world.
I asked Jessie Howser, Chief Range Official of Barricades and Statistics Officer at the match, to tell us about her history with the Bianchi Cup.
“I have been volunteering at the Bianchi Cup since I was 13 years old … 2018 made 18 years of service for me! There is just something about the people there, the atmosphere, that makes you want to do this over and over again. The competitors are why we do what we do and what brings us back every year. You might work the hardest and longest week of your life at the range during the Bianchi Cup, and at the end of the week, you’ll say to yourself, ‘I’m never doing this again!’
“But you get the invitation the following year, and you’re back at it, working the Cup again! I am not sure if you would consider that dedication or insanity!”
Jessie continues, “For me, the Bianchi Cup has always been a family affair – my grandpa, Sam Williams, worked it for years, ending as a referee in 2007 when he passed away. My dad, Bill Howser, works as Chief Range Official (CRO) on the lower mover – 2018 was his 31st year! Both of my sisters, a couple of my uncles, and several cousins from both sides of my family have worked the Bianchi Cup in years past. And finally, a few years ago, my mom, Beth Howser, joined us on the range. She always attended the events, but after decades of hearing Dad and I talk about it, she finally came out to work. Mom does competitor check-in on the Barricade event, where I worked as CRO for 5 years. This year, I was promoted to the Statistics office. As a female shooter, hunter and volunteer, I love that there is such a strong female presence in the competitors as well as the volunteer staff.
“Not only is the Bianchi Cup a family affair for my biological family, it also is for my adopted family (my fellow volunteers and competitors). Most of them have watched me grow up, seeing me year after year at the Cup. They have helped fuel my passion for firearms and the shooting sports. My shooting family helped give me the confidence I needed to be successful as CRO, because I wasn’t so sure I could do it! Many of the competitors tell us that it calms them to see a familiar face, because you know that person knows their way around … and the same goes for the volunteers seeing our competitive shooting family back every year. Bianchi Cup is second-to-none with regards to all of the people, who look forward to spending the week before Memorial Day every year in Mid-Missouri. It is an amazing experience where you will meet people from all walks of life, from all over the world.
“For 19 years, I have said I would work this year and then compete next year, but I just can’t seem to leave the volunteer side. … It has played a huge part in my life, and helped me grow into the woman I am today. I doubt I’ll be leaving the volunteer family anytime soon.”
So, this is my personal “thank you” to the leaders who cultivated passion in one of the most storied shooting matches, and turned an event at a small Missouri club into something truly world-class. This is my “thank you” to those who have given of themselves for decades to be part of competitive shooting history. This is my “thank you” to the people who will work to continue those traditions and passion. Personally, I think every competitor and shooter can learn something from every person on the range – from the guy out their picking up brass after the shooters leave, to the ladies running stats in the score shack. Everyone we meet in life has a little gem of wisdom that we can learn and grow from. Asking them to share that, to grow that, and cultivate it takes the wisdom to step back and look a little deeper and see the actions of others that came before us to grow their passions into things worth sharing. So get out to the range, thank those who pour their passion into firearms and competition, and be a leader.
Becky Yackley primarily competes in 3 Gun, USPSA, Bianchi pistol, but has competed in shooting since 1989 in disciplines from service-rifle, to NCAA Air Rifle and Smallbore, air pistol and a little bit of long range rifle. She shoots guns and cameras at competitions around the country, and writes in her fictional spare time. Her writing can be found here The WON in her column titled "Not a Soccer Mom" and sponsored by Jagemann Sporting Group, as well as Guns America and Gun World. View all posts by Becky Yackley