The Tonto Rim Sports Club rock and rolled much like a blast from the past during a Turkey Shoot held Nov. 14 at the Jim Jones Range south of Payson.
“Remember those turkey shoots we used to have?” asked TRSC member Ed Niebch. “We haven’t had one in a long time so we decided to start them up and hope they become an annual event.”
Shooters at the event could chose from four competitive options to win a turkey — archery, handgun, rifle and shotgun with slugs.
“They could try just one or all four,” said Niebch. “And as many times as they had dollars.”
Shooters paid $1 per shot and the winners received turkeys provided by the local Safeway store.
“Some spent as much as $20 and didn’t win a turkey, some others shot just once and won,” said Niebch.
In archery, participants shot at a wildlife 3D foam target from 25 yards away.
Those who entered the handgun competition, which included seven hard-core men shooters, fired at bulls eye targets from 15 yards.
The rifle and shotgun targets were also of the bull’s eye variety.
Rifle competitors shot from 100 yards and those who entered the shotgun with slugs event fired from 50 yards.
“The shotgun (competition) drew a lot of interest, said Niebch. “There was one of the old Ithaca Deerslayer (shotguns) that several people used and won with.”
Although the Deerslayer is a shotgun, it can be deadly accurate up to 200 yards in 4-inch groups using slugs.
Some are even equipped with scopes.
Niebch calls the event a huge success drawing shooters from around Northern Gila county and Globe.
For the day, TRSC awarded 20 frozen turkeys to shoot champions.
Original turkey shoots date back to colonial days when the contest involved using live turkeys that were tied down and shot from 25 to 35 yards. If the turkey died, the shooter received it as a prize to be served up as thanksgiving dinner.
Thos types of shoots began to draw extreme criticism from a wary public for supposed cruelty and soon they vanished from the American scene.
Those early types of shoots also gave rise to the military terminology of “turkey shooting” mean catching the enemy off-guard or out-gunned to the point of being unfair.
Today, turkey shoots are popular mostly in rural America. Most are held to support charities like volunteer fire departments, civic organizations, scholarship programs, Boy Scouts and school groups.
The Rockford Baptist Church in Rockford Tenn. Sponsors bi-monthly shoots in which all profits are used to fund church functions.
The Conroe Knights of Columbus in Conroe, Tex. sponsors monthly competitions during which Texas-style barbecue brisket and ribs are served up.
In Hedgesville, West Virginia, the Back Creek Valley Bow and Gun Club hosts jackpot shoots that pays back prize money rather than frozen turkeys.
Those types of shoots have become quite competitive drawing serious shooters who travel hundreds of miles to attend the shoots with the biggest prizes.
When using shotguns — which are mostly 12-gauge —in turkey shoots, the winners are chosen according to which target had a slug mark closest to center cross-mark. This removes some of the skill and allows every shooter and equal chance.
Some shoots disallow the use of scopes.