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A Conversation with JEB's Chokes

A Conversation with...

I can't tell you the exact date that I had my first conversation with Bobby Sears at JEB's chokes but I know it was sometime in early to mid 2011. Bobby and I talked at length about JEB's chokes and how they had performed. It wasn't long after that when I received a sampling of those chokes and was able to take them to my range for an evaluation.

When they arrived, I was very impressed by the craftsmanship that was evident. Frankly, they were the most beautiful chokes I'd ever seen. I was also very impressed with their performance.

Over the next several months, I had many conversations with Bobby and with Jimmy Washam his partner at JEB's. Jimmy is a machinist, a choke designer and a long time hunter who had been dissatisfied with the chokes that were available and spent several months coming up with a unique design for turkey chokes. It's unique enough that it was granted a patent.

In October of 2011, Bobby and Jimmy showed up at the World Championship Still Target Shoot in Edgefield, South Carolina. They'd never been to a still target shoot of any kind but decided to come and see just how their chokes measured up to the competition.

I watched, fascinated, as Bobby progressed through 2 days of shooting, winning squad after squad and advancing first to the semi-finals and then to the finals and the championship round. Then he won the most coveted prize of all,  the 12 Gauge Hunter Class.

Just a few months ago Bobby did it again. He won the World Championship in the 12 Gauge Hunter Class and along the way he set a new World Record. It's been quite a successful run for Bobby, Jimmy and JEB's chokes and I wanted to visit with them and hear their thoughts on what's happened in the last few years and what they have planned for the future.

CB: First of all I want to thank both of you for taking some time to visit with me today. I know it's been a very busy time for you all, especially since your record breaking performance at the World Championships and with the spring turkey season coming soon.

Bobby: We're very happy to be here and appreciate the opportunity to visit with you and tell you and your readers more about JEB's chokes. Yes, 2014 was a very exciting year for us. We feel very fortunate and blessed to have been able to win a 2nd World Championship. The Hunter Class is the one that we feel most passionate about, since we're using stock guns and stock chokes that any hunter can use. To have set a new World Record was kind of icing on the cake, so to speak.

We've really been gearing up for the NWTF Convention and of course for the Spring turkey season that will be underway soon. We really have not had a slack time in months and we're very grateful for that.


CB:  When you got started, there were already a good many choke tube companies out there. I know you were not satisfied with the performance of the chokes you'd used but what was it that inspired you to take the plunge into the choke tube manufacturing business?

Jimmy: Actually it was my passion for hunting and my respect for the animals that I hunt. I always strive to get the best performance out of my guns whether they be be my rifles or my shotgun. This inspired me to experiment with different designs of the interior bore of shotgun chokes to see if any improvements could be achieved.

CB: You kind of laid it on the line when you went to the World Championship Still Target Shoot in 2011, especially since you'd never been to any still target shoot until you went to that one. Would you tell me what you remember most about that event?

Bobby: I remember showing up to shoot, the first day with 1 Browning BPS, 2 chairs and an old tackle box full of cleaning supplies and thinking to myself, after seeing all the other competitors, “Should we have really done this?” As you know, we'd never been to one of those shoots and didn't really know what to expect. My gun shot really well and I was happy with it but really didn't realize that I was in the finals until I was told. When I won the championship it really took a while for it to sink in and for me to realize what had happened.

CB: How important to the success of JEB's chokes was that first Championship win?

Bobby:  We feel like our first championship definitely got the ball rolling. We were also very happy for the all people who had supported us and had encouraged us. There was  a real sense of accomplishment of course and it made us feel that maybe our choke tube was worthy of being categorized as a top competitor in the choke tube industry. It meant a lot to all us.

CB: Without giving away any of your trade secrets, would you discuss some of the features of JEB's chokes that you consider to be unique and beneficial to the hunter and shooter?

Jimmy: There are several unique things that set us apart from other manufacturers. The first is our patented interior bore design. In a nutshell, this design allows the shot to actually get out of the wad cup much faster and allows the shot to freely exit the tube with out the wad cup traveling along with it. This allowed us to dramatically reduce wad cup deflection as the shot charge is traveling down range, which in turn gave us much more consistent, denser and tighter patterns at long distances.

CB: Could you tell us a little bit about how JEB's chokes are manufactured? What kind or kinds of steel do you use, what kinds of machines, tolerances, etc?

Jimmy: Our choice of steel is 17-4 stainless. We heat treat all of our bar stock to raise the hardness of our tube to around 44-49 on the Rockwell Scale. This allows the hunter to shoot any shells on the market today from lead, nickel to tungsten-based Hevi-Shot products.

All of our tubes are manufactured on state-of-the-art CNC machines. That allows us to have the best tolerances in the industry, usually +/- .005.


CB: I know that you offer turkey chokes with several different exit diameters. How do you determine which exit diameter to recommend to a prospective customer. For example, if I'm shooting a BPS with a 26” barrel and want to shoot 3” Winchester Long Beard shells with 1.75 oz. of #6 shot, how do you determine which choke I should use?

Bobby:  When we have a customer ask us which restriction would work best with his shotgun and shell combination, he can rest assured that we have already put in many hours testing every shotgun and shell combination and recorded all the data to pass along to him. If by some chance after trying the restriction that we recommend, or even another one more to his liking, he is still not satisfied with his pattern, we offer a 100% money back guarantee.

CB: I briefly mentioned earlier that you have a patent on the “internal geometry” of your chokes. Since that design is protected by that patent, can you tell us just a bit about it?

Jimmy: Sure. Our interior bore design is unlike any before us. We have 4 stages in all of our tubes, the lengths of each is determined by the overall length of the tube. This design has 2 shot stabilizers in it as well as restriction but it is not done using wad stoppers or shoulders. All steps are transitional.

CB:  I visited your site just before our visit and saw that you're now making several other types of chokes. Would you tell us what kinds of chokes you're making in addition to turkey chokes and how they've been received?

Bobby:  In our 2nd year of business, customers started asking us about waterfowl and sporting clays chokes. We began shooting and testing many different shotguns and the various waterfowl shells that were available. We soon discovered that our design allowed us to give the hunter a  more concentric pattern with a very even spread of pellets throughout it. The patterns hold up at longer distances and by changing the restriction we can give the hunter the size pattern he needed at 40 yards.

We used the same process to develop our line of sporting clays chokes and the others that we now offer as well. While the purposes may be different, hunters and sport shooters alike are looking for concentric and dense patterns.


CB: As you know, starting up any new businesses is tough. Most new businesses in the U.S. don't make it and partnerships in particular have a pretty poor track record. To what do you attribute your success?

Bobby: Well Mr. Clark, we were taught at a very early age that a true friend is something to treasure. Jimmy and I respect each other and look upon each other as more like family than business partners. As for our customers, we want them to be extremely happy with their purchases and invite them to call on us any time if a problem arises or if they just need a question answered. In other words, we want them to feel that they are a part of the JEB's family too.

CB: Just one last question, if I may. Tell me about the name, JEB's and how you decided on that?

Bobby and Jimmy: We've had a lot of folks call and ask to speak to Jeb. We explain to them that when we were thinking of a name for our chokes, we decided to use the first initial of 3 of our names. The “J” is for Jimmy, the “E” is for Egan, Jimmy's grandson and the “B” is the first letter of my name, Bobby.

CB: I want to thank you both again for taking the time to sit down and have a conversation with me about JEB's chokes. I look forward to keeping tack of your progress and seeing you all at the various shoots during the year, as well as at the NWTF Convention.

Bobby and Jimmy: We want to thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to reach out to our customers, both new and old, and tell them a little about our company and us.

We really value each and every customer we have and want them to feel a part of Jeb's, just one big hunting and shooting family. God bless you all and good hunting.


CB: My thanks again to Bobby and Jimmy for taking time to visit with me. If you'd like to read more about JEB's Chokes, please visit http://www.jebschokes.com/ and i
f you'd like to read more “Conversations” please visit www.allaboutshooting.com



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