For the past 35 years, competitors from all over the world have traveled to mid-Missouri to compete in a shooting competition started by John Bianchi, founder of Bianchi International, the MidwayUSA & NRA Bianchi Cup. This year’s match was almost guaranteed to be one for the books before the first shot rang out. It was filled with lots of colors, lots of firsts, and for some, a competitive advantage because of a few missing, yet familiar faces.
Jessie Duff found herself with some tough competition this year. Going into the last two events of the match, the Falling Plates and the Mover, Jessie found herself ten points behind junior New Zealand shooter Tiffany Piper, reigning Junior champion. During the Falling Plate event, Jessie dropped one plate, meaning she shot down all but one. Needless to say, this was a major disappointment and for the first time in Bianchi Cup history, a junior shooter was close to taking the win from a seasoned veteran. Jessie ended up coming back on the Mover and winning the ladies division overall, but it was a close one for sure!
Another first for this year was all the first time shooters including Shelley Sargent from GunUp, and Michelle Cerino, wife to Top Shot’s Chris Cerino. When I asked Shelley and Michelle why they wanted to shoot the match this year, their answers were very similar. Shelley said, “I’ve heard lots of good things about it and decided it was finally time to come check it out. Everyone that I’ve talked to tells me it’s one of their favorite shooting events, so I wanted to come and play, too!” Michelle had also heard good things about the match from her husband Chris and son Colton. Both of the Cerino men have shot the Bianchi Cup for the past two years. “I shoot with Chris when he’s teaching classes, but I just wanted to compete for myself and try shooting it front of other people,” said Michelle.
The score wasn’t important to them either. Michelle had accomplished her goal as soon as she stepped onto the range. “All that matters to me is that I do better than last year, and since I didn’t shoot it last year, everything has been an improvement!”
Shelley said, “I came out here and I told myself I’m not going to cry and I’m going to shoot anything I’m not supposed to shoot, and so far I’ve run with that.”
Another first timer was my friend and fellow blogger on Sass, Brass & Bullets, Diana Hufstedler. Diana usually shoots IPSC and IDPA matches, but like Shelley and Michelle, Diana decided it was time to bite the bullet, no pun intended, and compete for the cup. “Shooting the Bianchi Cup has been on my bucket list for many years, but I put off doing it because I never thought I was ‘good enough’,” said Diana. “Finally I decided to suck it up and give it a try just for the fun of it. I am so glad I did — what a blast (literally)!” Diana ended up winning a First Time Shooter award in the Women’s Division. Not too shabby for someone who never competed in the match!
The Bianchi Cup features three different divisions. Sometimes deciding what division to compete in is half the battle. There is Production, Open and Metallic. Most of the competitors shoot Open, a gun with a red dot sight, because it’s “easier”, or so people assume. Sara Dunivin discovered that it’s not as easy as you think it is, and it might even give you a little more respect for Open shooters like Jessie Duff, Tiffany Piper and Doug Koenig, the men’s overall winner for the fifteenth time.
“Last year I shot in the metallic division,” said Sara. “This year I decided to try Open, but I don’t think my timing was the best since I shot Single Stack Nationals two weeks ago, but, I had a lot of fun and I learned a lot.”
One thing that everyone was suffering from this year was Golob Fever, an illness that causes temporary symptoms of sadness, watery eyes and occasional shots outside the X-ring. On April 11, Julie and her family welcomed another child, compelling Julie take a short break from the shooting sports. She was missed by everyone this year, but was just a phone call, text message and Facebook post away. Julie was there in spirit and did a great job supporting her friends from home. She even helped Randi Rogers pick out her dress for the banquet Saturday night. When in doubt, always pick red, ladies!
Another friendly face that was missing from the match this year was the lovely and talented Vera Koo. Vera has been the top woman at the Bianchi Cup in Columbia eight times and won numerous NRA Action Pistol awards at matches in Germany, Australia and New Zealand. While training for the Bianchi Cup earlier this year, Vera unfortunately injured herself and was unable to attend the match, but she too was there in spirit.
Congratulations to all the winners, and I hope to next year, fingers crossed, be on the range with all the ladies!
[Editors note: Thanks to Beth Cowgill for her coverage of the 2013 Bianchi Cup.]