For years, the local VFW post here in Floyd has hosted turkey shoots from early fall to spring. Because of some internal problems, the VFW had to shut down for a time to solve these problems. The turkey shoots every other Saturday came to a grinding halt.
Recognizing the popularity of this sport, the Floyd County ‘Coon Hunters Association has picked up the ball. This coming Saturday, the 23rd, the coon club will host their first card shoot, or turkey shoot as most call it.
Turkey shoots date back to the late 1700s. The early pioneers would capture wild turkeys and use them as the targets. The turkey would be tied behind a large log so that he could raise his head but not escape. The shooter, using his hunting skills, would ‘call’ the turkey in an attempt to make the turkey interested. When the turkey raised his head to investigate the source of the calling, the shooter would then try to kill the bird. That practice ceased long ago and the sport has changed dramatically.
Nowadays, shooters pay a fee for their chance to win and shoot at paper targets. Turkey shooting is not an established sport, so there are no set rules. Turkey shoots are held all over the United States and the rules and methods are different depending on where you go.
Generally, a shooter pays a fee for every shot he or she wants to fire. A paper target is put up at a predetermined distance and the shooter fires at this paper target with a shotgun using birdshot shells. Birdshot shells are loaded with very small lead pellets. The bullseye on the target is usually two crossed lines creating an intersection.
Because there are so many pellets in a shotgun shell and there’s no way to control where each pellet goes, its pure luck concerning where the pellets hit the target. The shooter wins by a pellet from his shot being closer to the crossed lines that all the other shooters.
A judge is appointed and judges all the targets. A winner is announced and a prize is given. Prizes usually are a package of meat from a grocery store or a cash prize. Sometimes prizes consist of valuable items, but shooters usually are required to pay higher fees to shoot matches where expensive items are given.
Some regular turkey shoot competitors take this sport very seriously. It’s common for these shooters to invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars in a custom-built shotgun to enable them to shoot better. This type of shooter is usually seen at the bigger shooting ‘houses’ where large cash prizes are given.
Most people who go to turkey shoots, however, are common folks that are there to enjoy the event and have a good time. Everybody’s chatting, talking about their guns and making new friends.
I’m a member of the Floyd County ‘Coon Hunters Association, so I volunteered to help the guys get set up for this upcoming shoot. We had to dig holes, set target posts and shooting stands. After boring sixteen holes with a gas engine powered auger, I’m sore this morning. That’s alright, though. All the hard work will pay off Saturday. We’ll have a good time. Maybe I’ll win a package of pork chops.