Marksmen Take Aim At Turkey Shoot

Organizers hope to make the popular contest annual event

Joe Skeens, left, watches proudly as Joe the second receives a turkey from Bob Chasse at the Jim Jones Shooting Range, Saturday, Nov. 17, during a turkey shoot-out sponsored by the Tonto Rim Sports Club. Skeens had the most hits in the bull's-eye and got a turkey for his accuracy.

Joe Skeens, left, watches proudly as Joe the second receives a turkey from Bob Chasse at the Jim Jones Shooting Range, Saturday, Nov. 17, during a turkey shoot-out sponsored by the Tonto Rim Sports Club. Skeens had the most hits in the bull's-eye and got a turkey for his accuracy. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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Shooters of all ages and skill levels turned out Saturday at Jim Jones Range hoping to walk away with a Thanksgiving turkey.

The youngest was a nine-year old boy who won a turkey and the oldest was an 80-plus-year-old man who came up short.

All that was needed to take home the traditional dinner bird was to be the most accurate shooter in four divisions of the Turkey Shoot sponsored by the Tonto Rim Sports Club.

For most of the morning, the entrants fired handguns, shotguns, rifles and bows at bullseye targets placed from 15 to 100 yards away.

Probably the most unique weapons were the shotguns that fired slugs, rather than pellets, at targets 50 yards away.

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Joe Skeens, front, and Chico Mendoza line up their targets as the shooters wait for Bob Chasse's instructions on the proper method of safely firing a weapon during the Turkey Shoot at the Jim Jones Shooting Range. Safeway donated 40 turkeys for the event. The cost of participation was $2.00 per shot. Four options for shooting were available, archery, handgun, rifle or shotgun.

Those types of shotguns are not common in Arizona, but are used for deer hunting in the Midwest and on the East Coast.

“We even had one of those short barreled home security shotguns used,” event sponsor and TRSC member Ed Niebch said.

Once the shooting was completed Niebch gathered the targets, calculated the accuracy and awarded turkeys to winners.

About 40 turkeys were given away

Niebch invited Payson Roundup photographer Andy Towle, who was at the range to photograph the event, to shoot a few practice rounds from a handgun.

Although Towle doesn’t get in much range practice, he did well. “I had two (shots) in the bull’s eye.”

Turkey shoots, once highly popular events in rural America, had fallen by the wayside in the Rim Country until last year when Niebch and fellow TRSC members decided to reinvent them locally.

Last year’s inaugural shoot was such a success, Niebch decided to hold another this fall with a goal of making them an annual event.

The popularity of the two has convinced him there is enough interest to continue hosting them at the local range.

“They are getting bigger each year,” said Niebch. “We even had some shooters come up from the Valley.”

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