By JIM MISUNAS
LARNED — Larned’s Kim Beckwith shoots his 1911 Colt like a fine wine — he fires better with age.
Beckwith, 62, captured the Senior-Grand Senior division for the second time at the prestigeous 2016 Bianchi Cup, the premier international shooting event in the U.S. The National Action Pistol Championship is contested at the Green Valley Rifle & Pistol Club in Columbia, Mo. The most prestigious shooting tournament in the world features more than 300 shooters and $500,000 in cash and prizes.
‘It’s a pressure-cooker,” he said of the competition. “There’s some of the best shooters in the world competing.”
His specially designed 1911 Colt 38-super caliber pistol is typical for top shooters, who craft their own guns for maximum accuracy.
Beckwith said the specially designed pistols guarantee better accurary than manufactured pistols.
“With custom-built pistols, you get the accuracy you need,” he said.
All competitors shoot the four Bianchi Cup courses of fire — The Practical, Barricade, Moving Target and Falling Plate Events. Awards were determined by the four courses of fire.
Thirty-six competitors advanced to the Colt Championships where they shot an additional time through the four courses. Scores determined the various Bianchi Cup champions.
Performing well over a two-year period in the Bianchi Cup qualifies Beckwith for the NRA U.S. World Gold team for the third time. The all-star team competes in an international event.
He’s qualified for the 2016 World Championship Nov. 8-12 in Whangarei, New Zealand. Whangarei is the northernmost city in New Zealand and the regional capital of Northland Region.
Beckwith competed with multiple-national champion Doug Koenig, Kevin Angstadt and Michael Voigt on the 2014 U.S. Gold team in Germany. He competed in the 2014 NRA World Action Championship in Park City, Ky.
He practices several times a week and fires off several hundred rounds a week.
“I’ve enjoyed a pretty good run starting in 2014,” Beckwith said. “I’ve been really lucky to go to the places I’ve visited for nationals and world championships. Once I won my first Senior Cup in 2014, everything else has been gravy since then. Every year, you enjoy when you win. But I’ve developed friendships all around the world. I’ve got really good friends in New Zealand.”
He said competing internationally is a challenge. Beckwith has also competed in Australia and Italy. Shooters must unload their guns and pack them to travel in locked cases. They are limited to travel with 450 rounds and must purchase more expensive rounds at their shooting site.
Success in the MidwayUSA & NRA Bianchi Cup requires a perfect balance of speed and accuracy for a meet that was founded in 1979 by former police officer John Bianchi. The 192-shot championship is comprised of four timed events — Practical, Barricade, Moving Target and Falling Plate. The shooting is grouped by age, gender and shooting skill, Competitors may opt to shoot in the Open, Metallic or Production divisions, determined by the type of modifications made to the firearm.