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Turkey Shoots & Card Shoots

Turkey Shoots & Card Shoots, do they shoot turkeys or cards? The answer is no...and yes.

All around this country there are "turkey shoots", or "spot shoots" or "card shoots" or they may be called any of a number of other names. These shoots are held by VFW's, Lions Clubs, Coon Clubs and many other organizations or groups.

Many of these shoots were started by folks who were looking for something to do in the cold winter months and were originally called turkey shoots, even though they did not actually shoot turkeys.

So, what's this sport about, if not shooting turkeys? Now that raises a lot of questions that seem to have many, many answers. There seem to be as many types of turkey shoots as there are shooters. At some of these shoots, you could find yourself shooting at an "X" on a piece of wood. You might also shoot at a paper target with an "X", a cross, a round circle or at a tiny dot, sometimes called a chigger. You might shoot at a distance of 58 feet, 20 yards, 30 yards or some other distance decided by the "management".

You may be able to shoot any type of gun, with any type of choke or you may be restricted to a particular barrel length or choke tube constriction.
You really need to know the rules of the "house" before you go or you could make a trip and not be able to shoot your particular gun.

These shoots and these shooters are the very essence of independence. Each shooter seems to have his own idea of what works in the way of barrel, choke and of course ammunition.

Over the course of the last two years, this writer has had enough inquiries about this type of shooting to inspire a real interest in finding out more about it.

I started my quest at a local VFW Hall after seeing an advertisement in the newspaper. The ad just said that there would be a turkey shoot beginning at 1:00 PM. I loaded up a couple of guns and drove to the VFW.

I arrived at about the same time as a couple of other shooters and they showed me the "shooting house" at the rear of the VFW building.

I'd guess that there were 30 shooters there when I arrived. Most seemed to know each other and I was welcomed like an old friend. I felt at home immediately.

I told them that I'd never shot this sport and a couple of guys told me how the shoot worked. There was a large shooting window that opened to a range that was 90' from window sill to target. The target was a 1" circle and shot within but not touching the line (clean target) were counted. The target with the most shot in the circle, wins. Sand bags were provided for rests.

At this shoot, no barrels could be more than 32" long and the exit diameter of the choke could be no tighter than .680". They shoot very inexpensive shells loaded with #8 shot.

Since I'd not called anyone and did not know the rules, I'd brought chokes that ranged from .639" to .675" and thus was not able to shoot my gun. That turned out to be no problem at all since several shooters volunteered to let me use any gun they'd brought. Like I said, I immediately felt at home.

I'd like to say that I won all the rounds, or that I won most of the rounds but that was not the case. I did win 1 round and was able to bring home about 5 lbs. of steak and I made some friends.

Over the next several weeks, I returned often to this shoot and was able to win a few more matches. It's a great group of guys, they have some really innovative chokes and ideas of what makes a gun for this sport shoot well. I believe that I learned a good bit about this particular version of the sport.

I also learned of about 5 more shoots that take place within a short drive of our home in Southern Illinois.

I've started to vist those shoots and will publish more information about my experiences at those shoots in the very near future.

In the meantime, if you have an opportunity to visit one of these shoots, I'd encourage you to do it. It's fun and gives you one more place to shoot when the days get short and the weather cold.

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