BEST OF THE BEST: THE BIANCHI CUP

Women’s Champion Jessie Abbate lifts the cup high, seen here…

Women’s Champion Jessie Abbate lifts the cup high, seen here with Larry and Brenda Potterfield and event founder John Bianchi (at right).

They say that you can never achieve perfection. They say that all you can do is “try to be your best.” They have never shot the Bianchi Cup.

In 1979, the first Bianchi Cup was held in Columbia, Missouri. The course of fire then was the same as it is today—four fixed stages of 48 rounds each, totaling a maximum possible score of 1920. With an initial prize purse of $30,000, the total purse had grown to over $500,000, making the Bianchi Cup the richest purse in the entire shooting sports. But many shooters, even dedicated IPSC/USPSA/IDPA shooters, have no idea what the Bianchi Cup is all about, or how their current equipment plays in the three divisions of Bianchi Cup.

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Taking his shot at the Bianchi Cup, renowned shooter Dave Sevigny engages the moving target from 25 yards.

The Bianchi Cup is the national championship match for NRA Action Pistol. The terms have become somewhat interchangeable, as unlike USPSA or IDPA there are very few club- or even state-level NRA Action Pistol matches. The most famous match is the Bianchi Cup, and for many shooters it’s also the only time in a year that they will shoot a sanctioned NRA Action Pistol match. Since its inception in 1979, the Bianchi Cup has been won by the top names in the shooting sports—Doug Koenig, Brian Enos, Robbie Leatham, Jessie Abbate, and Julie Golob; just to name a few. The best shooters in the world today shoot the same courses of fire that John Bianchi and Ray Chapman shot at the inaugural cup, and explaining those courses is as good a place to start as any.

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The Bianchi Cup is made up of a variety of events. Here shooters go prone to engage a rack of six plates at 25 yards.

Three Divisions
There are three divisions at Bianchi Cup with each sporting their own specialized gear and equipment. The flagship division of the Cup is definitely Open division, which features guns that are purpose-built to deliver 1-inch accuracy at 50 yards and use compensators, optics, and special “wings” to add stability on the Barricades. Each division competes separately, with the official Bianchi Cup being awarded to the shooter with the highest score out of any division. Because of the advantages to shooting an open gun, the winner of “the” Bianchi Cup generally comes from Open Division. The top shooters in Open division will routinely shoot a perfect 1920 at the match, with the winner being decided by the x-count. The next division is Metallic, which is a close analog to USPSA’s Limited division. Metallic division prohibits the use of optics, comps and wings; however, the guns in this division are heavily customized as well to deliver maximum accuracy. You will see revolvers and semi-autos compete side-by-side in Metallic division, with 6-inch custom 1911s running next to Smith & Wesson L-frames with DAO triggers and BoMar sight ribs. The most recent addition to Bianchi Cup is the relatively new Production division, which started in 2009 and has contributed tremendous growth to the sport in just three short years. Production is the place to find Sig Sauers, CZs, Glocks, Springfield XDs and any almost any other pistol legal for USPSA’s Production Division or IDPA Stock Service Pistol.

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