The NRA World Bianchi Cup came down to the wire between two top shooters
Back in September the world's top pistol shooters converged on a small range in Philippsburg, Germany for the eighth World Action Pistol Championship. Within that group of top shooters the United States often has the best and it was no different this year when Doug Koenig, 14-time MidwayUSA/NRA Bianchi Cup Champion, was going for his fifth World Bianchi Cup.
Held every other year, the World Bianchi Cup is set up exactly like the Bianchi Cup here in the U.S. Featuring the same course of fire and gun divisions (Open, Metallic and Production), speed and accuracy are the keys to winning the Practical, Barricade, Moving Target and Falling Plate events. One slight change is the addition of team shooting events alongside the individual aggregate.
When it comes to the Practical Event there are few better than Koenig - a member of the Smith & Wesson team. The most similar to regular target practice, Practical Event competitors aim at two targets from a variety of distances while either standing or laying prone.
In good shape to take his third World Bianchi Cup in a row and fifth overall, a peculiar thing happened during Koenig's Practical: he shot two eights, finishing with a 476-46x out of 480. It was very unlike him to drop four points and, in a championship where every past winner had a perfect 1920, put his lead in jeopardy.
Enter Caspian Arms shooter Bruce Piatt. When Koenig slipped up during Practical, Piatt saw his chance to take the lead. Instead of the match coming down to tie-breaking Xs, it could be won by points. A five-time Bianchi Cup winner and World Action Pistol Champion in 2006, Piatt is also one of the top Pistol shooters in the world.
With only the Moving Target Event left, this was Piatt's time to shine. Like Koenig in Practical, Moving Target was Piatt's event. Staying ahead of Koenig here would lock up the win. But on the cusp of victory Piatt would also slip. Like deja vu, Piatt also shot two eights, dropping four points and finishing Moving Target with a 476-33x.
"This just doesn't happen," National Pistol Manager Tom Hughes said. "These guys are at the top of their game and to both drop points like that, in the events they normally dominate, is unreal."
Koenig couldn't believe it when he heard the news. He thought Piatt was about to win his second World Action Pistol title. First place was now a tie at 1916 points apiece between three competitors: Koenig, Piatt and their United States teammate Kevin Angstadt. But there's no sharing in the World Bianchi Cup and one of the three had to win. In the end Koenig held the tiebreaker in Xs - 184 to Angstadt's 171 and Piatt's 167 - and took his fifth title back home to Pennsylvania.
Every shot counts in a championship and there aren't many better examples than this one. For the first time in World Action Pistol Championship history, the winner hasn't had a perfect 1920. A wild finish like this might not happen again for a very long time.
Koenig, Piatt and more of the world's best shooters will be back at the 35th NRA National Bianchi Cup this summer in Columbia, Missouri. The World Action Pistol Championships - held every other year - don't come back around until 2014 and a new venue hasn't been set. But keep your globes handy, because NRAblog will let you know as soon as the location of the ninth World Bianchi Cup is announced.