LARNED — Kim Beckwith seems like an ordinary member of the Larned community.
He ran Beckwith Mortuary, a business his family started over 80 years ago. He’s a paraprofessional educator for the Larned school district and was a reserve officer for the Pawnee County sheriffs.
However, a trip to Beckwith’s basement shows that he is man who’s hobby has taken him across the globe as a member of a USA competition pistol team.
“This isn’t my job,” Beckwith said. “I owned Beckwith Mortuary. I was a funeral director. This is just a hobby, or it started that way. It’s really turned into something that has really been productive.”
Beckwith has competed in the Bianchi Cup, which is held in Columbia, Mo., since 1985.
The Bianchi Cup is an international championship that draws shooters from Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Switzerland.
Last year, Beckwith finished in 11th place overall at the Bianchi Cup. This year, the Bianchi Cup will be held on May 23-26.
Beckwith will also be traveling to Philippsburg, Germany, to compete with the USA team in the NRA World Action Pistol Championships.
Beckwith got started shooting in 1978.
“I’ve been a reserve officer here since 1978 for the sheriff’s department,” Beckwith said. “I started competing in the Kansas Peace Officer’s Association and the Kansas Sheriffs Association. Then went to the national championships since, oh, 1979 was my first year in Des Moines.
“I competed there clear to 1985 when I got my first invite to go to Bianchi Cup.”
He uses ammunition from Zero Bullet Company, which has sponsored him since he began competing at the Bianchi Cup.
“My first invite, I couldn’t really afford the entry fee, so there was a lady I’d been shooting her ammunition for quite a few years,” Beckwith said. “I asked her if she’d be interested in sponsoring me and she goes, ‘Well, I’ll call you back.’
“I hung up and thought I’d never her from her again. She called back about five minutes later and said yes. I’ve shot for them ever since.”
It proved to be a good business decision.
“There are usually anywhere from 150 to 300 people at Bianchi Cup,” Beckwith said. “When we got there the first year, there was three off us who were using her ammunition. Now we’ve got about around 70 percent of the market.”
Beckwith uses a highly modified 1911-style Browning pistol.
“This is a .38 super caliber,” Beckwith said. “It’s been highly accurized. They port it, and the gases porting up keeps the muzzle from flipping when you shoot it.”
The competition itself consists of four parts. Each portion is worth is worth 480 points for a total of 1,920.
“Last year, I shot a 1,912 out of 1,920 possible,” Beckwith said. “There were three guys that cleared it and shot a perfect score. It is really accuracy-driven.”
Four shooting events
The Practical — “What that is, is it starts you out at 10 yards,” Beckwith said. “You draw and fire one round on each target in four seconds. Then you draw and fire two rounds on each target and add a second. Then you draw a third time and fire three rounds on each target left-handed only. Then you move back and do it all over again except on the 3-and-3, you can use both hands.”
Plate Event — “You start at 10, 15, 20 and 25 yards,” Beckwith said. “It is six, seven, eight and nine plates and if you clear all of the plates, you get to come back and shoot for x’s, which are tiebreakers.”
Barricade — “They have a barricade at 10, 15, 20 and 35 yards away,” Beckwith said. “You start with your hands flat on the barricade, which is two-feet wide by six-feet tall. You got two targets on either side of the barricade that are on an air pressure system that turns them to face you. What you do is, as soon as you can see the target’s face, you can draw and fire six rounds for five seconds. That’s another match you have to start clean. There is no reason to miss any points there.”
Moving Target — “You start at 10 yards and it goes left to right and right to left,” Beckwith said. “You have to fire six rounds both ways. Then you move back to 15 yards and do the same thing. Then you move back to 20 and you shoot three rounds each time it moves. It moves back-and-forth twice so you shoot 12 rounds each time. You do the same thing at 35 yards.”