The Bianchi Cup

The Bianchi Cup, otherwise known as the National Action Pistol Championship has been the gold standard in action shooting for over four decades now. Aside from being the premier action pistol championship tournament in the whole world, the Bianchi Cup still remains the only major shooting tournament that has retained its original courses-of-fire since its inception.

 

Although it’s one of the most difficult shooting events out there, it’s still outstanding because it gives shooters the feel for improving their overall skill through its standard courses-of-fire. The cup courses-of-fire is a combination of speed, accuracy, and precision, but most importantly, shooters must exhibit strong mental discipline on match days to be able to win the championship.

 

The History

Bianchi Cup was originated in 1979 by John Bianchi and Ray Chapman. They thought there should be a competition that’ll have a mix of IPSC, Police Pistol Combat, and NRA Precision Pistol shooting styles. Their thought about new competition gave birth to the first-ever Bianchi Cup in 1979 at the Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Club Columbia, Missouri. They discussed and designed the event over four courses that have been unchanged ever since.

 

By 1984, the NRA (National Rifle Association) took over the Bianchi Cup and modified its name to NRA Bianchi Cup. The tournament is being held every year for three days in the month of May, many of which have been held at the Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Club, Columbia, Missouri. It is the first tournament that turns the sport of competitive shooting as a whole from amateur to professional status by offering the winners cash prizes, awards, and trophies.

 

The Targets and Scoring

There are two types of target used in the Bianchi Cup:

 

NRA AP-1: This is made of either paper or cardboard. The target is marked to denote different scoring zones (rings) – X-Ring, A-Ring, B-Ring, and C-Ring in the diameter of 4”, 8”, 12”, and remaining inches respectively. A hit on the X-Ring or A-Ring will score 10-points, while a hit on the B-Ring and C-Ring will score 8-points and 5-points respectively. However, the hits on the X-Ring will be used as Tie-Breaker.

 

Falling Plate Target: This is a series of 8” diameter round targets that are made of .375 inch-thick steel. Alternatively, the target can also be made of Elastomer or similar self-sealing plastic material of the same dimension but the inch can be increased to ½ inch-thick. Every hit on a plate is scored 10-points and 1X.

 

Each course-of-fire requires 48-shots making 192-shots in total. This will amount to a total possible score of 1920 – 10 potential points for each shot. The final score will be total points acquired after shooting all the four courses-of-fire plus the X-Ring hits minus all penalties incurred.

 

A penalty of 10-points will be charged for each premature start, procedural error, a round fired over the designated number, and a round fired overtime.

 

The Courses of Fire

The Bianchi Cup includes four separate events known as courses-of-fire. Each of the courses-of-fire has four stages (strings-of-fire). The events are discussed below:

 

Event I: The Practical Event

The targets used are two NRA AP-1 targets with their top approximately 6-feet above ground level and 3-feet apart, edge-to-edge. There are four stages to engage after the starting signal; the first stage must be fired in the standing position, while other stages MAY be fired in a prone position.

 

Stage I: This stage has a range of 10-yards, i.e. the shooter engages the targets from 10-yards away.

  • At the signal to commence fire, the competitor fires one-round at each target within 3-seconds, fires 2-rounds at each target within 4-seconds at the second signal to commence fire. Then at the third signal to commence fire, the competitor fires 3-rounds at each target with the weak hand only within 8-seconds; all the 6-rounds must be fired with the weak hand only, without any form of support from the strong hand.

 

Stage II: 15-yards range.

  • This follows the same shooting sequence as Stage I with different times of 4-seconds, 5-seconds, and 6-seconds respectively. However, this stage doesn’t require shooting the last rounds-of-fire with the weak hand.

 

Stage III: 25-yards range.

  • This stage follows the same sequence as Stage II with different times of 5-seconds, 6-seconds, and 7-seconds respectively.

 

Stage IV: 50-yards range.

  • This stage has the same sequence as Stage II with different times of 7-seconds, 10-seconds, and 15-seconds respectively.

 

Event II: The Barricade Event

Two NRA AP-1 targets are being used for this stage too, but they must be fired from behind a barricade. The two targets will be placed down-range, one at 3-feet to the left center-line and the other one at 3-feet to the right (6-feet apart, edge-to-edge). The barricade can be used as a support during the course-of-fire. Also, all the stages must be fired in the standing position.

 

Stage I: 10-yards range.

  • At the signal to commence fire, the competitor fires 6-rounds at either of the targets from the matching side of the barricade within 5-seconds, and fires another 6-rounds at the other target from the matching side of the barricade at the second signal to commence fire; within 5-seconds.

 

Stage II: 15-yards range.

  • This stage has the same sequence as Stage I with different times of 6-seconds each.

 

Stage III: 25-yards range.

  • This stage has the same sequence as Stage I with different times of 7-seconds each.

 

Stage IV: 35-yards range.

  • This stage has the same sequence as Stage I with different times of 8-seconds each.

 

Event III: The Moving Target Event

The NRA AP-1 target is being used in this event, which will move from behind a barricade, travels 60-feet in 6-seconds, and then disappears behind another barricade. For this course-of-fire; the appearance of the target from behind the barricade will be the signal to commence fire as there won’t be any audible signal. Also, the total time to complete this course of fire shouldn’t exceed 7 ½ minutes. Kindly note that the time for changing targets between the strings-of-fire isn’t included in the 7 ½ minutes. All stages must be fired in the standing position.

 

Stage I: 10-yards range.

  • At the first signal to commence fire, the shooter fires 6-rounds at the target, which moves from right to left. He likewise fires another 6-rounds at the target, which now moves from left to right at the second signal to commence fire.

 

Stage II: 15-yards range.

  • This stage follows the same sequence as stage I

 

Stage III: 20-yards range.

  • The shooter will fire 3-rounds at the target, which moves from right to left at the first signal to commence fire, and fires another 3-rounds at the target, which moves from left to right this time around at the second signal to commence fire. Then, the procedure is repeated one more time.

 

Stage IV: 25 yards range.

  • This stage follows the same sequence as Stage III.

 

Event IV: Olin “Oli” C. Barjenbruch Falling Plate Event

The falling plate target or its alternative is being used in this event. For each stage, there will be 6 target-plates placed one foot apart, edge-to-edge. Stage I must be fired in the standing position, while others MAY be fired in a prone position.

 

Stage I: 10-yards range.

  • The competitor will fire one round at each target on the first signal to commence fire within 6-seconds. The procedure will then be repeated one additional time. Be aware that the plates must be knocked-down to score.

 

Stage II: 15-yards range.

  • The stage follows the same sequence as Stage I with different times of 7-seconds each.

 

Stage III: 20-yards range.

  • The stage follows the same sequence as Stage I with different times of 8-seconds each.

 

Stage IV: 25-yards range.

  • The stage follows the same sequence as Stage I with different times of 9-seconds each.

 

The Divisions

There are 3 different Divisions recognized in the Bianchi Cup. The first one is Open Division; the pistol in this division must have a minimum trigger weight of 2-pounds with allowance to use electronic sight. Also, wings for bracing against the barricade during events that include shooting from cover, and open holsters are allowed.

 

While in the Metallic Division, the use of electronic sights of any kind isn’t allowed, but only metallic iron sights which denote the name of the division “Metallic”. Unlike the Open Division, the use of wings isn’t allowed, but it’s similar to the open division in the aspect of 2-pounds minimum trigger weight and open holsters allowance.

 

The last and the newest division is the Production Division where the modifications in open and metallic aren’t allowed. With a minimum trigger weight of 3.5-pounds, the pistol must be Semi-Auto and in Double-Action-Only mode.

 

Generally, the most common caliber used in the Bianchi Cup is 9mm, followed by .38 Super as well as .38 Special. Also, the minimum Power Factor in the cup is 120,000, which is calculated by multiplying the Bullet Weight (grains) by Velocity (FPS – Feet per second).

 

Classifications

For the purpose of being fair to all competitors, there are five classes that competitors shoot according to their level of skill. The classification is done after a competitor has a minimum of 144-shots, after which the average score per 6-shot string will be computed and used to classify the shooter.

 

The classes are:

  • High Master: 59.40-60.00 (99%-100%)
  • Master: 57.60-59.39 (96%-98.99%)
  • Expert: 54.00-57.59 (90%-95.99%)
  • Sharpshooter: 48.00-53.99 (80%-89.99%)
  • Marksman: Below 48 (80%)

 

A competitor shooting for the first time will be classified as a Master and shall compete in the Master Class.

 

Safety Rules

To compete safely in the NRA Bianchi Cup, the following fundamental rules must be followed:

  • Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction
  • Always keep your finger off the trigger and the gun unloaded until ready to use
  • Use only the correct ammunition for your gun
  • Know your target and what is beyond
  • Wear ear and eye protection
  • Never consume alcohol or drugs before or while shooting

 

You can read some of my previous posts for further information on the safety rules of handling firearms.

 

Equipment and Ammunition

  • A firearm that suits any division
  • A holster that’ll safely carry the firearm
  • Minimum of 192 rounds of ammo
  • Eye and Ear Protection

 

To set the record straight, the NRA Bianchi Cup is one of the three championships of action shooting’s Triple Crown, along with the IPSC U.S Nationals, and the Steel Challenge.

 

Finally, there is uniqueness in the Bianchi Cup in that a newcomer’s orientation is always held at the competitor’s meeting, where both former and current champions, as well as the staff, are usually in attendance to help new shooters settle-in in their first attempt at the tournament. Once you have your serviceable gun and other equipment, you’re welcome to shoot in NRA Bianchi Cup.

 

Want to give it a shot? Kindly visit the NRA official website to avail yourself of the latest update on the Bianchi Cup so as to participate in the next tournament.

Thanks for reading, I do appreciate it. If you have any thoughts or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

Have a Great Day!

-Chuck

 

 

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