By Lars Dalseide | May 21 2013 17:24

The NRA Bianchi Cup, sponsored by MidwayUSA, officially kicks off Wednesday

Competitors greeted with lessons from today's top pro shooters

Rob Leatham joins in a welcoming hug during a recent Bianchi Cup Championship

Columbia, Missouri - The easiest part about participating in the Bianchi Cup is the travel. About 1,000 miles from the East Coast, 1,700 from the West Coast, it's about as close to middle of the country as an NRA National Championship gets. If you decide to go by way of plane, and have all your TSA documentation in line, there's still a two hour drive once you reach the nearest commercial airport. That's the easy part. The hard part is mustering the gumption to enter.

A record number of entrees found such gumption this year. To step upon the stage of the Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Club, take on the four stages of Bianchi and deal with the results. For most, dealing with the results is the second hardest part.

Most arrived late last night. Found the Columbia Holiday Inn, caught a bite to eat and settled in for the evening. Have to settle in as soon as possible. In the morning, the action begins.

Noobs and newbies gather for the Pro Shooter Clinic. Sitting attentively while Koenig explains the mover, Leatham the falling plates, Fowler the practical and Duff the barricade event. Each flawlessly demonstrating timing and technique with pinpoint precision along with standard tricks of the trade. Tricks and tips the most begin visualizing before one speaker transitioned to the next.

While pretenders retreat to the safety of their room, the hopefuls descend upon the practice range to give their new skill set a try. Koenig's stance or Fowler's draw — doesn't look the same when I do it. But it's still something to add to the repertoire. Something to improve their performance. Something to push them closer to the title.

A few hundred rounds later and it's back to the hotel. Carouse with old friends, greet the new and ready for tomorrow's big day.

Day one at the 2013 MidwayUSA/NRA Bianchi Cup. It begins tomorrow. And you can follow all the action, stage by stage, right here on NRAblog.

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