March 3rd, 2020

40th Annual Hickory Groundhog Shoot in NC — April 4, 2020

hickory groundhog shoot vail north carolina larry willis

The Hickory Groundhog and Egg Shoot, the richest varmint shoot East of the Mississippi, is one month away. Now in its 40th year, the popular Hickory Shoot will be held starting at 8:00 am on April 4, 2020 near Hickory, North Carolina. For four decades, the event has been hosted the first Saturday of April each year by Larry Willis of Bull’s Eye Sporting Goods, (704) 462-1948. The basic entry fee is $40.00 per gun. That gives you a chance to win a bundle of cash, plus valuable prizes such as Shehane stocks and Nightforce optics.

The Hickory Groundhog and Egg Shoot is the best event of its kind in the Southeast. Yes, conditions can be challenging (with mirage and switchy winds), but you can win big. In years past over $7,000 worth of prizes and cash has been awarded. Shooters can also compete in an Egg Shoot for cash and prizes. With a mere $2.00 Entry Fee, the Egg Shoot is a popular highlight.

hickory groundhog shoot vail north carolina larry willis

Hickory Groundhog Shoot Course of Fire
The normal course of fire consists of three sets of paper groundhog targets at 100, 300, and 500 yards, and NO Sighters. They do have a bench for handicapped shooters not able to shoot from the prone position. Most competitors will shoot at the head at 100 yards because the points are higher. At the longer distances, 300 yards and 500 yards, most shooters go for body shots on the paper groundhog target. The Hickory employs “worst-edge” scoring, meaning if you cut a scoring line you get the next lower score.

Anatomy of a Hickory-Winning Rig — Brady’s Record-Setting 6BR
If you wonder what kind of rifle can win the big money at the Hickory Shoot, have a look at Terry Brady’s 42-lb 6BR. In 2010, Terry won the Custom Class in the Hickory Shoot, setting a match record with a 99 score, which was only broken last year. Terry was shooting a straight 6mmBR rifle, purpose-built for Groundhog shoots, which have no weight limit in Custom Class. Terry’s rifle, built by smith Mike Davis, featured an experimental 1:8.7″-1:8.3″ gain-twist Krieger barrel. The fiberglass Shehane Tracker stock was stuffed with lead shot from stem to stern, so that the gun weighs nearly 42 pounds with optics.

hickory groundhog shoot vail north carolina larry willis

Hickory groundhog shoot groundhogRelays Run Like Clock-Work
The shoot is run very smoothly, with one relay shooting while the next relay waits outside the shooting area, ready to go. Once a relay is done, shooters grab their items and exit on one end of the shooting platform while the next relay comes in from the other end. The relays move through in rapid succession.

You must quickly set up and get ready because as soon as the target pullers get back they are ready to shoot. When the fire command is given you have two minutes to get your three shots off at that distance. When the cease fire is called you quickly grab your gear and get off the shooting platform because the next relay is coming in.

How to Get to the Hickory Shoot

Permalink Competition, Hunting/Varminting, News No Comments »
March 3rd, 2020

The .220 Swift — History of a Great Varmint Cartridge

Sierra Bullets 220 .220 Swift Cartridge powder loading Hodgdon

A History of the .220 Swift Cartridge

by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box
Sierra Bullets 220 .220 Swift Cartridge powder loading HodgdonThis cartridge was introduced by Winchester in 1935 in their model 54 rifle. A year later, it was added as a standard cartridge in the model 70. What might not be common knowledge to some reloaders is that the prototype for the Swift was developed in 1934-35 by Grosvenor Wotkyns by necking down the 250 Savage case, but in the end, Winchester chose the 6mm Lee Navy case for the foundation for this cartridge.

This cartridge was far ahead of its time and for that reason it received a lot of bad press. We’ve all read the horror stories through the years. Many of those stories were just simply repeated from previous articles even the wording was just slightly different. So how bad was the Swift? Let’s take a deeper look.

Some of the early Swifts had soft barrel steel and some of the rare ones even had barrels that were .223 in bore size. This stemmed from the fact that the .22 Hornets prior to the end of World War II were .223 in bore size and some of these barrels were chambered in the Swift. It was rumored that the Swift peaked in pressure far too quick. I’ll bet they did with a turkey extra full choke barrel.

Burn rates of powders were limited at that time as well, so the Swift was limited in its true ability due to that. It was almost like building a funny car for drag racing when only kerosene was available.

One of the longest lasting black eyes was that it shot barrels out so fast. If you get the barrel branding iron hot and fail to clean it often this can happen. Common sense will go a long ways here. Keep the barrel as cool as you can and properly clean it every fifteen rounds or less will go a long way to improving accuracy life of a Swift.

Sierra Bullets 220 .220 Swift Cartridge powder loading Hodgdon

So what is the real truth about this cartridge? I’m glad you ask. I’ve been shooting the .220 Swift for over 43 years now. It is one of the best varmint cartridges I’ve ever owned. It is not hard to load for, it doesn’t suddenly peak in pressure and it isn’t the barrel burner that you’ve heard. Hodgdon powders once reported a Remington 40-X with over 3,000 rounds of full power loads averaged .344” for five, 5-shot groups. My findings have been the same. It isn’t as hard on barrels as it has been made out to be.

I’ve also read that down loading it slightly will help in barrel life. This is true, but if you buy a thoroughbred you want him to run. Barrels are threaded on the end for a reason. If you have enough fun to shoot out a Swift barrel, just rebarrel it.

The bottom line is enjoy the .220 Swift for what it was meant to be. The popularity of the Swift has slipped in the last twenty years and few factory rifles are now available in this caliber. There is no reason for this and I know the Swift will always have a strong and loyal following.

Sierra Bullets 220 Swift Cartridge Guide

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting 7 Comments »
March 3rd, 2020

Pistol Matches Are Fun — Give IDPA a Try

IDPA Practical Pistol Concealed carry handgun competition

Most of our readers are rifle guys, but it’s fun to shoot a pistol match now and then. You don’t need a lot of equipment, and if you shoot IDPA (Int’l Defensive Pistol Assn.) matches, you can really win with a $400 pistol and $20.00 worth of bulk 9mm ammo. That’s a bargain compared to what you’ll spend on a competitive PRS or F-Class rig and custom hand-loads.

If you want to get into the IDPA game, Shooting Sports USA has a good article that explains the basic rules and classifications. IDPA is not your grandad’s bullseye pistol match. There is movement and action. Stages are timed, and competitors engage targets from cover if available. Singled-handed shooting is sometimes required, as is shooting while moving. You can compete with pretty much any handgun suitable for self-defense — but no $4000 Raceguns with fancy optics. The fact that you can be 100% competitive without spending a ton of money is what makes IDPA so popular.

Shooting Sports USA polled IDPA shooters at the 2016 IDPA Nationals to determine their favorite gun brands and models. The #1 choice was the 9mm Glock 34 for the SSP (Standard Service Pistol) and ESP (Enhanced Service Pistol) Classes. Next most popular was the Smith & Wesson M&P Pro.

IDPA Practical Pistol Concealed carry handgun competition
IDPA Gun Chart from Shooting Sports USA.

IDPA targetAlong with SSP and ESP, there are three other main IDPA classes: Custom Defensive Pistol (CDP) for .45 ACPs (mostly 1911 types), Concealed Carry Pistol (CCP), and Revolver (REV). All classes have a minimum power factor. Scores are based on time and shot placement on the IDPA target.

IDPA Scoring System
The official IDPA Target (right) has multiple scoring zones. If you don’t hit the target’s center mass zone or head zone (both appear green in illustration), you drop one or three points. Here’s the formula: Score (in seconds) = Time + Points Down + Penalties. In IDPA, “points down” (and penalties) are added to your time. If you hit the outer edge of the target, you get 3 points down. Nearer center can be 1 point down. Center hit or head shot is 0 points down. See IDPA Scoring for Dummies.

IDPA glock 34 pistol carry match

Five Tips for New IDPA Shooters

This Editor got his start in competitive shooting with local IDPA matches. I shot a 9mm Glock 34, and a 9mm SIG Sauer P226, and even did one match with a .38 Spl S&W Snubbie. I eventually settled on the SIG P226, as it fit my hand better than the Glock, was more accurate, and was every bit as reliable. The P226 also pointed better than the Glock for me — something that helps with target acquisition. Here are FIVE TIPS for new IDPA competitors:

(more…)

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Handguns, Shooting Skills No Comments »