Since 1997, the NRA Bianchi Cup had been won by two shooters. Bruce Piatt has won the competition four times, while Doug Koenig has won it an incredible 13 times. For 17 years, these two shooters traded the title back and forth, dominating the sport and locking out other competitors until this year. A new champion has claimed the trophy in 2014… a shooter who has competed in the Bianchi Cup, but has never won it. Kevin Angst from Rural Retreat, VA made history by taking the title with a perfect score of 1920 with 171 x-counts. The battle for the Bianchi crown waged for three days with gun malfunctions and match pressure all playing a part.
Bruce Piatt who has won the Bianchi title a total of 5 times suffered a gun malfunction on the Barricade, which took him out of the hunt. Going into the last event, the Moving Target (which is the hardest of all the trials), there were numerous shooters who were clean, including Doug Koenig, Kyle Schmidt, Nigel Gorden and a few more. But the Mover, as the shooters call it, can test even the most seasoned shooter’s skills.
Kevin Angst was up first and cleaned the event, shooting a perfect 480 and bringing his score to 1920, but there was still no time to relax. If Koenig shot a perfect 480, it would come down to the x-count and the x-count can take a shooter from 1st to 3rd. Doug Koenig who was up next knew what Angst had scored. Koenig scored perfectly on the first three strings, the 10-, 15- and 20-yard stages, hitting the 10 ring. But at the 25th yard and on the very last shot, it landed in the 8 ring, not the 10, giving the win to Kevin Angst by only 2 points.
The Women’s Division carried as much intense drama as the men’s. 2013 Bianchi Cup Champion Jessie Duff defended her title against a tough field. Maggie Reese was leading Duff by 3 points going into the last event, the Moving Target. The time allotted for the Moving Target is 7:30 minutes, and as Reese began shooting it was apparent there was an issue with her equipment. Reese, who shot very slow and methodically, was clearly working with her equipment as she walked from one yardage stage to the next one. The optic was not working properly and Reese was trying to shoot and fix the problem at the same time. On the last trial, the 25 yard stage, Reese raised her hands to the ready position and then dropped them. When she dropped her hands, the referee shouted “Time!” as the 7:30 minute mark had been reached. Maggie Reese had timed out and was not allowed to shoot her last 6 shots. Opening the door for Jessie Duff and Tiffany Piper, the two battled it out with Duff claiming the win just two points ahead of Piper, 1893 – 1891.
This year’s Bianchi Cup was full of surprises, never ending excitement and tremendous shooting. With nearly 300 shooters, both veterans and novice, the Bianchi Cup is the pinnacle for all shooters. Winning it is a dream come true and as Kevin Angst said in between smiles, “Never quit the dream.”
By Shari LeGate