April 19th, 2016

Fun Shoot — The St. Thomas Pennsylvania Groundhog Match

Varmint Groundhog Match St. Thomas Sportsmen's Association Assn Sportsman's Shoot

St. Thomas Groundhog MatchSt. Thomas Groundhog Shoot, Report by Jonathan Trivette
Nestled at the base of a mountain in south-central Pennsylvania is the St. Thomas Sportsmen’s Association. On a cool Saturday morning you’ll find some of the area’s best shooters at the monthly Groundhog Match. The match attracts shooters from Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and of course Pennsylvania.

It may not be the longest-yardage match in the area, but it can be the one of the toughest. The range is sloped up the mountain a little so the winds can be very tricky. Often times the three wind flags at 200, 300, and 400 yards will all be blowing in different directions.

Varmint Groundhog Match St. Thomas Sportsmen's Association Assn Sportsman's Shoot

A Class for Everyone
St. Thomas’s Groundhog match has five different classes: Heavy (Unlimited) Custom, Light Custom, Heavy Sporter, Light Factory Sporter, and an AR Class. The Heavy Custom is any gun over 17 pounds while Light Custom is any gun up to 17 pounds. The Heavy Sporter is any factory gun that has a heavy/varmint barrel on it. The Sporter class is any factory rifle that has a light profile barrel on it. And the AR class is any AR style rifle. CLICK HERE for Match Rules.

Groundhog Match Format
Signups start at around 7:00 am the day of the match. During sign-up you’ll choose a bench from the 20 available benches. The cost is $15 per gun and you can shoot as many guns as you would like. I’ve shot as many as four different guns but that makes for a busy day. For the Heavy Custom and Light Custom you will shoot 5 shots for score at 200, 300, and 400 yards. In the Heavy Sporter class you will shoot 5 shots for score at 100, 200, and 300 yards. In the Sporter and AR class you will shoot 3 shots for score at 100, 200, and 300 yards.

Varmint Groundhog Match St. Thomas Sportsmen's Association Assn Sportsman's ShootThe Targets feature a groundhog with scoring rings on the left side and 5 practice rings on the right side. Shooters get as many practice shots as they want, subject to a time limit. The three relays run 6 minutes, 6 minutes and 9 minutes respectively.

The match is very well-organized yet has a “laid-back” feel. The first relay starts at 9:00 am and the match is usually over around 1:30 pm. There’s a covered picnic table area for socializing with fellow shooters while waiting on your relay. They have doughnuts and coffee in the morning and usually have some very good chili and hot dogs (for lunch) in the concessions area.

Groundhog Match Results
April 16, 2016

On Saturday the weather was perfect and conditions were very good early on. However, by the time the last relay rolled around, mirage made it difficult to see. Ben Brubaker obviously had less trouble than most finishing 1st (143.02) and 2nd (143.02) in the Heavy Custom Class and 1st (144.04) and 3rd (142.04)in the Light Custom class using a 6mm Dasher in both classes. Bob Daron won the Heavy Sporter class with a score of 144.04 followed by Fred Kaminsky with a 142.06. Sporter class proved to be a family affair, with the Bollinger brothers, Glenn (87.01) and Bob (83.02) finishing first and second. We had one junior shooter on Saturday, 7-year-old Lydia Funk. The talented yound lady shot a 68 in Sporter class with her .223 Rem.

Varmint Groundhog Match St. Thomas Sportsmen's Association Assn Sportsman's Shoot

You may have missed the first Groundhog Shoot of the year, but there are several other chances for you to get out and test your skills against some of the best shooters in the region. St. Thomas Sportsmen’s Assn. has one shoot a month until October on the second Saturday of each month. Don’t think you have to be a professional shooter to come to these matches. Take it from me as I started shooting these matches about five years ago with a $270 Savage sitting on top of homemade sand bags. The guys here are great to shoot with and are always willing to help out a fellow shooter. They made me feel right at home and always helped me when I have any questions. I started doing this to become a better shooter for deer hunting. I continue to do it because I fell in love with the sport. So if you are looking for something to do on the second Saturday of the month come out and test your shooting skills and enjoy the fellowship of like-minded shooters.

Varmint Groundhog Match St. Thomas Sportsmen's Association Assn Sportsman's Shoot

CREDIT: We want to thank Jonathan Trivette for supplying this story and the photos. We welcome reader submissions such as this.

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April 7th, 2016

Hickory Groundhog Shoot — Report from North Carolina

Hickory Vale NC Ground Hog Shoot Competition

This past Saturday, April 2nd, the Hickory Groundhog Shoot was held in Vale, North Carolina. One of the nation’s most popular varmint competitions, the Hickory Shoot offers a host of valuable prizes. Here’s a report from Jonathan Trivette, who attended the Hickory Shoot for the first time this year.

A First-Timer’s Experience at the Hickory Shoot, by Jonathan Trivette
The Bullseye Groundhog Shoot, aka The Hickory Shoot, is one of the most unique groundhog shoots that I have ever attended. This event, held the first Saturday of April every year, is very well-organized — it runs like clockwork. This year was my first time attending this Shoot and I was impressed. There were 215 shooters and the match was over by 1:00 pm. After the main match they sell chances to shoot at an egg at 500 yards. Shooters that hit the egg receive a cash award and get their name on the Egg Hall of Fame Perpetual Trophy.

The shoot starts at 8:00 am and you are allowed to sign up the day prior and that morning until the match starts. The range is open the week prior to the match for practice so you can get familiar with the venue. The match has two classes: Custom (Open) and Factory. Entry fee is $25.00 per gun. The Custom Class permits any gun and caliber you would like to use and you can use most any type of rest. Some of the Custom Class guns can weigh 40 pounds or more. The Factory Class is limited to factory guns, and the only rest(s) you are allowed are bi-pods and sandbags. This year Clifton Odell won the Custom Class with a 95 score while Kevin Philbeck won the Factory Class with a 75 Score.

Hickory Groundhog shoot Bullseye sporting goods

The scoring is done in a different fashion than what I am used to but it works and eliminates any debate as to shot score value. A shot must fall completely inside a scoring ring in order to count as that score — it cannot touch the next farther ring at all. [Editor: The Hickory employs “worst-edge” scoring, meaning if you cut a scoring line you get the next lower score.]

Back in 2010, father and son Terry Brady (L) and Chris Brady (R) topped the Custom Class:
Hickory Ground Hog Shoot

The Hickory Groundhog and Egg Shoot is the richest varmint shoot East of the Mississippi. The 36th annual Hickory Shoot was held this past weekend. The event is hosted the first Saturday of April each year by Larry Willis of Bull’s Eye Sporting Goods, (704) 462-1948.

In years past over $7,000 worth of prizes and cash has been awarded. The normal course of fire consists of three sets of paper groundhog targets at 100, 300, and 500 yards, and NO Sighters. Shooters can also compete in an Egg Shoot for cash and other prizes. The basic entry fee is just $25.00 per gun. That’s cheap for a chance to win a bundle of cash, plus valuable prizes such as Shehane stocks and Nightforce optics.

Hickory Shoot Course of Fire
The course of fire is three (3) shots at the groundhog target from the prone position at three different distances, 100, 300, and 500 yards. They do have a bench for handicapped shooters that can not get down in the prone position. Most competitors will shoot at the head at 100 yards because the points are higher. The other two distances that are normally shot are 300 yards and 500 yards.

Relays 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. 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.

Hickory Groundhog shoot Bullseye sporting goodsAcknowledging the Winners
At the prize ceremony Larry Willis presents the awards to the top shooters. He also acknowledges the Junior Shooters and even gives out prizes for best-looking male and female shooter and who drove the farthest. I had a chance to speak with Larry after everything was over on Saturday and you could tell that he really enjoys being able to put on this event for his fellow shooters. So whether you are looking to kick off your groundhog season or your summer shooting season, if you find yourself looking for something to do the first Saturday of April next year, make the trip to Vale, North Carolina for the annual Groundhog Shoot. The range is located at 8216 Will Hudson Road, Lawndale NC 28090.

CLICK HERE for 2016 Bullseye Hickory Groundhog Shoot Complete Match Results.

How to Get to the Hickory Shoot

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June 17th, 2015

Varminter.com Reviews Ruger 77/17 in 17 WSM Rimfire

Ruger 77/17  17 Winchester Super Magnum Rimfire Win Super Mag or WSM review video AccurateShooter.com

The 17 Winchester Super Magnum Rimfire (aka Win Super Mag or WSM) is the fastest, most potent modern rimfire round you can buy. This cartridge, which uses a modified nail gun casing, drives 20gr bullets at 3000 fps. The 17 WSM offers superior ballistics to all .22 rimfires, and is a clear step ahead of the 17 HMR. That makes this round a potential “game-changer” in the varmint fields. To guage the capabilities of the 17 WSM, Varminter.com tested the cartridge in the new Ruger 77/17 bolt-action rifle. Click HERE for Varminter.com Ruger 77/17, 17 WSM Review.

17 WSM shoots faster than the 17 HMR, so the 20gr bullets don’t drift as much in the wind:
17 Win Super Mag Rimfire Magnum Ruger 77/18 Varminter.com review

Varminter.com reports: “The much-anticipated Ruger 77/17 chambered in the 17 Winchester Super Magnum (17WSM) has been released. Our Review Editor, William Chambers, put it through a full range test with all four currently-available ammunition loads. Afterwards, he took it on a short groundhog hunt[.] We put a lot of rounds through the guns we test, at targets, through chronographs and out in the field. This report includes all currently available 17 WSM ammunition and a sneak peek of the really nice Nikon Prostaff 5 riflescope.” READ REVIEW.

(more…)

Permalink Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting 6 Comments »
March 21st, 2014

Richard Franklin — He’s Alive and Well

DVDOur readers have asked, “What’s happened to Richard Franklin? Is he still making rifles?” Well, we’re pleased to tell you that Richard is doing fine. He is up in Montana, building a new house, doing most of the construction himself. The good news is that the new house will have a big workshop, and Richard hopes to start building a few rifles near the end of this year. He won’t be taking orders for quite a while. But in the meantime, Richard is still sharing his knowledge about stock-making, gunsmithing, and varmint hunting via DVDs that can be purchased online.


Groundhog Hunting with Richard Franklin

A few seasons back, gunsmith Richard Franklin and his shooting partner Roy both achieved a varmint hunter’s dream — nailing a groundhog at 1000+ yards. The guns that did it were two of Richard’s 300 Varminters. These are 300 WSMs that push a 125gr bullet through 32″, 15-twist barrels to achieve velocities approaching 4000 fps. Here is Richard’s report, condensed for the Daily Bulletin.

Richard's Custom Rifles

The 1005-Yard Groundhog Adventure, by Richard Franklin
September 20th found Roy and I on our last groundhog hunt of the year. Bow season for Deer begins Oct. 4th and we wanted time to ready ourselves. Roy had killed 99 hogs so far this year and I had killed 97. In the morning, we headed over to the Overstreet farm leased by our good friend Richard Ruff. We set up the shooting trailer on top of a hill where we had a good view of several brush piles around the pasture. In the first ten minutes Roy put a hog in the air about four feet at 497 yards with his 300 Varminter, giving Roy an even 100 hogs for the year. I shot hogs at 180 yards, 506 yards, and 456 yards. That gave me a total of 100 for the year.

Richard's Custom RiflesThen we decided to go up to Danny’s and Bill’s hard rock dairy farm. We set up on the top of a high hill and shoot over the farm buildings to another mountain where there is a huge pasture with large rock piles. We scanned this pasture for about an hour and a half. Roy has a pair of Ziess 8-power binocs and I use a pair of the Leica 10-power Geovids with built-in laser rangefinder. I also have a “Big Eyes” set-up — two 22-power Kowa spotting scopes mounted on a bracket and used on a sturdy tripod. After some time searching the field for hogs and seeing none, we decided to pack up and go to a farm owned by Donnie Campbell. Over the years we have shot many a hog here. Roy once shot one here at 905 yards and my longest shot on this farm was 714 yards. Most kills here are made at over 400 yards. There’s a perfect place to shoot hogs from a single firing position. At the back property line was a big hill about 400 feet higher than the surrounding pastures and we could see and shoot about 200 degrees around us all the way out to 1,200 yards.

Setting Up the 1005-yard Shot
I had the first shot and nailed an easy one at about 140 yards. He was thinking he was hidden from view. Wrong! BLAM…POOF. Roy nailed a hog at 469 yards under an old pear tree. Roy nailed another hog at 522 yards by a big log pile where we had killed about ten hogs this summer. Roy was looking through the Big Eyes and called out, “Hey Rich…I got you one way over there on the next farm by the edge of the woods.” I ranged the hog with the Geovids four times, registering 1003, 1007, 1006 and 1005 yards. I decided on the 1005 as the distance. Checking my chart, I clicked up to 18 and 1/4 minutes. We had a very stiff wind blowing left to right. I have a Nightforce 8-32 power scope with the MLR reticle. I held the fourth windage dot and touched one off. I see the bullet strike nearly in line with the hog but low. I click up another minute and a half making a total of 19 3/4 minutes. Roy is watching all this through the Big Eyes and can see better than I can. He confirms where the first bullet strike was. I hold the same windage and touch off another round in my Bat-actioned, 32″, 15-twist Bartlein-barreled 300 Varminter. The hog was standing up for this shot. Through the scope I see the bullet’s vapor trail going straight for the hog. I lost the vapor trail before the bullet got there but I saw the hog flip over.

Hot damn, what a shot! After Roy shakes my hand and slaps me on the back, I walk over to the Big Eyes for a better look. “Roy, there’s another hog trying to fight that dead one,” I say. This hog (evidently both are males) is biting and dragging the dead hog. He is really going at it. Both hogs were evidently eating fallen acorns from the huge White Oak tree at the edge of the woods.

Richard's Custom Rifles

Roy Gets His Chance
I tell Roy, “Get up there on your bench and try that hog, I’ll spot for you.” Roy clicks up to 19 1/2 minutes and holds three feet for windage. Roy lets it go and I see the vapor trail going in on the hog. It hits a foot to the right and low. “Hey Roy”, I say, “click up two more minutes and hold one more foot of wind.” The hog ran in under the tree at the bullet’s impact but was back within 30 seconds. Roy is now clicked up and lets the second round go. I see the vapor trail dropping in on the hog but the bullet impacts dead in line, but still a bit low. “Roy — give it another minute and a half and hold the same wind”. I can hear Roy furiously working the bolt and chambering another round, then POW, and I see the vapor trail again. It looks like it’s gonna be in the middle of the hog but it drops right in under his neck, nearly hitting him. The hog vacates back under the tree for an instant but decides he is winning the fight against the dead hog and comes right back. Roy lets the fourth round go with the same hold as the last shot. I see the vapor trail of the 125 grain Ballistic Tip dropping right in on the hog, catching him perfectly in the shoulder. The live hog flips up and falls on top of the dead hog, his tail coming up stiff as a poker as he flags us that he is instantly dead.

Two 1000+ Yard Hits. A Record for Roy, Near-Record for Richard.
This was Roy’s longest shot ever. His previous record was 905 yards. This was my second longest shot, as I had killed a hog at 1018 yards seven years ago about 40 miles from this spot. I tell Roy that I’m putting up my hog rifle for the year. I’ll let this long shot register in my memory as the last Groundhog kill of 2008. Roy says “That’s fine, I’m gonna do the same.” Hog hunting is officially over for 2008. Now it’s time for Deer.

CLICK HERE to Visit Richard Franklin’s website and learn more about this ‘Hog hunt.

[Editor’s Note: Richard’s rifle has a BAT action and is able to drive the 125 Nosler at about 3975 fps. Roy has a Remington action on his 300 Varminter. The Rem doesn’t take high pressures as well as the BAT, so Roy’s load is down-loaded to about 3825 fps. Roy also uses a “boosted” Leupold rather than a Nightforce. Because of the difference in scopes, and the lower velocity, Roy needed more elevation clicks to reach the 1005-yard distance.]

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, News 1 Comment »
October 27th, 2013

Simple, Inexpensive ‘Pogo Stick’ Rest for Hunters

varmint shooting restForum member RidgeRunner has devised a clever shooting support for field use. He calls it the “Pogo Stick”. It’s simply welded stainless rod with a two-pronged base, and a ‘U’-shaped cradle that adjusts for height along a vertical shaft. RidgeRunner tells us: “It is very solid and made from stainless steel so it won’t rust under sweaty hands. The rifle hook, or support, slides up and down the main stem and secures with the knob. It has two prongs you tramp into the ground and is VERY stable. It is shiny, but I have been using this one since about 1983, and I can’t say I have noticed it spooking any whistlers. Before I had an actual bench to shoot off of, I used it to sight-in rifles. I would lay down and use a sand bag under the butt stock. Worked just fine.”

While this “Pogo Stick” rest was created for varmint hunting, it would work well for hunters of larger game, in terrain where the prongs could be set in the ground. The whole unit is small enough to carry easily in a day-pack. It sets up in seconds, and it stays in position by itself, unlike shooting sticks, which normally require a firm hold with one hand.

Yep, that’s one big Pennsylvania groundhog in the photo below. RidgeRunner reports: “This old boy has been giving me the slip for a couple weeks. I finally got a 52gr A-Max in him before the hay got high enough to hide him again. This sucker weighed 15 pounds. My heaviest to date I believe. The rifle is a Tikka 22/250 with a 4-16X Weaver 1/8-MOA dot scope. Nice and light for carry, nice and accurate too.”

Pennsylvania Ground Hog Rifle

Permalink Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting 11 Comments »
March 16th, 2012

Hickory Groundhog and Egg Shoot Slated for April 7, 2012

The Hickory Groundhog and Egg Shoot, the richest varmint shoot East of the Mississippi, is just three weeks away. The hugely popular Hickory Shoot will be held this year on Saturday, April 7, 2012. The basic entry fee is just $25.00 per gun. That’s cheap for a chance to win a bundle of cash, plus valuable prizes such as Shehane stocks and Nightforce optics.

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 Brady won the Custom Class in the Hickory Shoot, setting an all-time record with a 99 score*. Terry was shooting a straight 6mmBR with 105gr Berger VLD bullets. His rifle looks “normal”, but it was actually purpose-built for Groundhog shoots, which have no weight limit in Custom Class. The fiberglass Shehane Tracker stock was stuffed with lead shot from stem to stern, so that the gun weighs nearly 42 pounds with optics. The Hickory winner, smithed by Mike Davis of Zionville, NC, featured a BAT DS action with a straight-contour, gain-twist Krieger barrel. The twist rate starts at 1:8.7″ and increases to 1:8.3″ at the muzzle. Terry was shooting a relatively moderate load of 30.5 grains Varget with Danzac-coated bullets. This load absolutely hammered, but Terry thinks the gun might shoot even better if the load was “hotted up a little.”

Terry Brady 6BR Hickory Groundhog Winner

Minimal Recoil and Insane Accuracy at 500 yards
In the picture above you see the Hickory winner fitted with a 5″-wide front plate. This was crafted from aluminum by Gordy Gritters, and Terry said “it only adds a few ounces” to the gun. Mike Davis installed threaded anchors in the fore-end so the plate can be removed for events where forearm width is restricted to 3″. The plate is symmetrical, adding 1″ extra width on either side of the Shehane Tracker stock. Gordy can also craft a 5″ plate that offsets the rifle to one side or the other. Terry hasn’t experimented with an offset front bag-rider, but he thinks it might work well with a heavier-recoiling caliber. Terry actually shot most of the Hickory match without the front plate so he could use his regular 3″-wide front bag. Even with the plate removed, Terry’s Hickory-winning 6BR barely moves on the bags during recoil, according to Terry: “You just pull the trigger and with a little push you’re right back on target.” With this gun, Terry, his son Chris, Chris’s girlfriend Jessica, and Terry’s friend Ben Yarborough nailed an egg at 500 yards four times in a row. That’s impressive accuracy.

*The Hickory employs “worst-edge” scoring, meaning if you cut a scoring line you get the next lower score. One of Terry’s shots was right on the edge of the white and another was centered right between white and black at 3 o’clock. Accordingly he only received 27 points for each of the 300 and 500-yard stages. Under “best-edge” scoring, Terry would have scored even higher.

CLICK HERE for 2012 Hickory Groundhog & Egg Shoot Info Sheet (PDF)

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 2 Comments »
April 24th, 2011

1005-yard Groundhogs. Rich and Roy’s Amazing Adventure.

A couple seasons back, Gunsmith Richard Franklin and his shooting partner Roy both achieved a varmint hunter’s dream — nailing a groundhog at 1000+ yards. The guns that did it were two of Richard’s 300 Varminters. These are 300 WSMs that push a 125gr bullet through 32″, 15-twist barrels to achieve velocities approaching 4000 fps. Here is Richard’s report, condensed for the Bulletin.

Richard's Custom Rifles

The 1005-Yard Groundhog Adventure, by Richard Franklin
September 20th found Roy and I on our last groundhog hunt of the year. Bow season for Deer begins Oct. 4th and we wanted time to ready ourselves. Roy had killed 99 hogs so far this year and I had killed 97. In the morning, we headed over to the Overstreet farm leased by our good friend Richard Ruff. We set up the shooting trailer on top of a hill where we had a good view of several brush piles around the pasture. In the first ten minutes Roy put a hog in the air about four feet at 497 yards with his 300 Varminter, giving Roy an even 100 hogs for the year. I shot hogs at 180 yards, 506 yards, and 456 yards. That gave me a total of 100 for the year.

Richard's Custom RiflesThen we decided to go up to Danny’s and Bill’s hard rock dairy farm. We set up on the top of a high hill and shoot over the farm buildings to another mountain where there is a huge pasture with large rock piles. We scanned this pasture for about an hour and a half. Roy has a pair of Ziess 8-power binocs and I use a pair of the Leica 10-power Geovids with built-in laser rangefinder. I also have a “Big Eyes” set-up — two 22-power Kowa spotting scopes mounted on a bracket and used on a sturdy tripod. After some time searching the field for hogs and seeing none, we decided to pack up and go to a farm owned by Donnie Campbell. Over the years we have shot many a hog here. Roy once shot one here at 905 yards and my longest shot on this farm was 714 yards. Most kills here are made at over 400 yards. There’s a perfect place to shoot hogs from a single firing position. At the back property line was a big hill about 400 feet higher than the surrounding pastures and we could see and shoot about 200 degrees around us all the way out to 1,200 yards.

Setting Up the 1005-yard Shot
I had the first shot and nailed an easy one at about 140 yards. He was thinking he was hidden from view. Wrong! BLAM…POOF. Roy nailed a hog at 469 yards under an old pear tree. Roy nailed another hog at 522 yards by a big log pile where we had killed about ten hogs this summer. Roy was looking through the Big Eyes and called out, “Hey Rich…I got you one way over there on the next farm by the edge of the woods.” I ranged the hog with the Geovids four times, registering 1003, 1007, 1006 and 1005 yards. I decided on the 1005 as the distance. Checking my chart, I clicked up to 18 and 1/4 minutes. We had a very stiff wind blowing left to right. I have a Nightforce 8-32 power scope with the MLR reticle. I held the fourth windage dot and touched one off. I see the bullet strike nearly in line with the hog but low. I click up another minute and a half making a total of 19 3/4 minutes. Roy is watching all this through the Big Eyes and can see better than I can. He confirms where the first bullet strike was. I hold the same windage and touch off another round in my Bat-actioned, 32″, 15-twist Bartlein-barreled 300 Varminter. The hog was standing up for this shot. Through the scope I see the bullet’s vapor trail going straight for the hog. I lost the vapor trail before the bullet got there but I saw the hog flip over.

Hot damn, what a shot! After Roy shakes my hand and slaps me on the back, I walk over to the Big Eyes for a better look. “Roy, there’s another hog trying to fight that dead one,” I say. This hog (evidently both are males) is biting and dragging the dead hog. He is really going at it. Both hogs were evidently eating fallen acorns from the huge White Oak tree at the edge of the woods.

Richard's Custom Rifles

Roy Gets His Chance
I tell Roy, “Get up there on your bench and try that hog, I’ll spot for you.” Roy clicks up to 19 1/2 minutes and holds three feet for windage. Roy lets it go and I see the vapor trail going in on the hog. It hits a foot to the right and low. “Hey Roy”, I say, “click up two more minutes and hold one more foot of wind.” The hog ran in under the tree at the bullet’s impact but was back within 30 seconds. Roy is now clicked up and lets the second round go. I see the vapor trail dropping in on the hog but the bullet impacts dead in line, but still a bit low. “Roy — give it another minute and a half and hold the same wind”. I can hear Roy furiously working the bolt and chambering another round, then POW, and I see the vapor trail again. It looks like it’s gonna be in the middle of the hog but it drops right in under his neck, nearly hitting him. The hog vacates back under the tree for an instant but decides he is winning the fight against the dead hog and comes right back. Roy lets the fourth round go with the same hold as the last shot. I see the vapor trail of the 125 grain Ballistic Tip dropping right in on the hog, catching him perfectly in the shoulder. The live hog flips up and falls on top of the dead hog, his tail coming up stiff as a poker as he flags us that he is instantly dead.

Two 1000+ Yard Hits. A Record for Roy, Near-Record for Richard.
This was Roy’s longest shot ever. His previous record was 905 yards. This was my second longest shot, as I had killed a hog at 1018 yards seven years ago about 40 miles from this spot. I tell Roy that I’m putting up my hog rifle for the year. I’ll let this long shot register in my memory as the last Groundhog kill of 2008. Roy says “That’s fine, I’m gonna do the same.” Hog hunting is officially over for 2008. Now it’s time for Deer.

CLICK HERE to Visit Richard Franklin’s website and learn more about this ‘Hog hunt.

[Editor’s Note: Richard’s rifle has a BAT action and is able to drive the 125 Nosler at about 3975 fps. Roy has a Remington action on his 300 Varminter. The Rem doesn’t take high pressures as well as the BAT, so Roy’s load is down-loaded to about 3825 fps. Roy also uses a “boosted” Leupold rather than a Nightforce. Because of the difference in scopes, and the lower velocity, Roy needed more elevation clicks to reach the 1005-yard distance.]

Permalink - Articles, Hunting/Varminting 5 Comments »
November 3rd, 2010

The Lure of Ground Hog Matches and Varmint Fun Shoots

At clubs across the country, varmint fun shoots (also known as “groundhog matches”) are becoming more popular every year. In these matches, usually shot from the bench, you engage paper targets, clay pigeons, steel “critter” silhouettes, or some combination of paper and reactive targets. Shooters like these matches because you can shoot a wide variety of rifles, you don’t have to spend a fortune to be competitive, and there is fun for the whole family. Rules are inclusive — you won’t be turned away because your rifle is two ounces overweight. A large percentage of the match fees usually go back to shooters in the form of cash prizes. And the level of camaraderie is high.

hickory groundhog shoot
Harold Seagroves’ 3-time Hickory Ground Hog Match-Winning Rifle

hickory groundhog shootInclusive Rules Welcome All Shooters
Forum member Danny Reever recently explained the appeal of groundhog matches: “We don’t have a governing organization, or have to pay $50 a year membership just to compete in matches. Sure the rules vary from club to club, but you adapt. You build your rifle (or even pistol) to fall within the rules of either the clubs you shoot, or to fit all the clubs rules. If not there still is a class for you to compete in. If your factory rifle doesn’t conform to the rules, it can shoot in a custom class. If your custom doesn’t make weight for Light Custom (usually 17 pounds and under), you shoot it in heavy custom class. If you want to try your Tactical rifle or F-Class rig, bring it out there’s a class you can shoot it in. If you don’t like one club’s rules, you just don’t shoot there. It’s no big deal.

There are no National records, or Hall of Fame points — just individual range records. If you want to shoot in BIG matches (with big prizes), there is the Hickory Ground Hog Shoot among others. If competition isn’t your bag, many clubs offer mid-week fun matches that you can shoot just for fun. You shoot the same targets but with a more relaxed atmosphere with no time limits.

The best part is you don’t have to shoot perfect at every yardage. You always have a chance because in this sport it really isn’t over until the last shot is fired. Typically ALL the entry money goes to the host club, with much of the cash returned back to the shooters via prizes. Junior shooters often shoot for free, or at a reduced rate. That lessens the burden on the family’s wallet (not a small thing in these economic times). The low entry cost also encourages young guys to get involved who don’t have $4000 custom rifles or the money to buy them.

St. Thomas Groundhog ShootMore Fun, Fewer Complications
There isn’t a sea of wind flags to shoot over or to put up and take down. If the range has a couple of flags so much the better, but after all it is a varmint match. No pits to spot shots and slow things down either. If you can’t see your hits through your rifle scope or spotting scope well you are in the same boat as everybody else. That’s what makes it interesting/ sometimes frustrating!

As for calibers, I’ve seen everything from .223 Rem to .338 Lapua and everything in between. Our range record at my club is held by Bill Slattery, who shot a 147 out of a possible 150 with a 22BR 13 months ago. That’s on a target with a 1.250 ten ring at 200/300/500 meters. That record will stand for awhile, and shows you that some very good shooting is done at groundhog matches.

The best part is it’s laid back, everyone gets along, there is no place for big egos here. We who shoot the Ground Hog Matches don’t begrudge the other organizations and shooting disciplines, or those that shoot in them, heck some of us cross over and compete in registered benchrest matches too. Life’s too short, live and let live is our motto so just come out and have fun!”

Fellow Forum members chimed in:

FdShuster: “I’ve competed in our local ground hog matches for several years now, have introduced a number of others to them, and we all enjoy them and more importantly, continue to learn from them. Distances are as close as 100 yards, (with a 5/8″ 10 ring) to as far as 500 meters. with a 2″ 10 ring. Wind, mirage, bullet trajectories, all make them a challenge, and unlike shooting for group, where the group can be anywhere on the paper, in this game they must be very small, but also in the 10 ring. With the different classes, Custom, Factory, Hunter, almost any rifle will fit in somewhere. And Danny is correct about the friendly attitudes. I’ve seen competitors go out of their way, and jeopardize their chances of winning, to help someone else who may have a problem on the line.”

Texas Fun ShootMike C: “Here in Texas, our version of groundhog matches involves shooting at clay pigeons at 400 yards. We use 60mm, 90mm, and 108mm clay pigeons attached to target boards. You have 10 shots to break 8 clays, with a seven-minute time limit. We have developed a good following at these matches. In 2011, a Shooter of the Year Award will be given based on the Aggregate score for three of our matches, which are held in Utopia, San Angelo, and Huntsville.”

40X Guy: “I would have to say upon finishing my first year ever of ground hog matches, that the average Joe can grab his Swift, or his 25-06, or his 22-250 and go rip some holes in paper. Everybody is having a good time and its a gathering of like-minded people who have all shot chucks at some point or another. Even if one does not win the match, you can look at your target and say “darn that chuck target has five holes in him at 400 yards and he’s dead” just as well as the next guy shooting a custom bench rifle. Everybody fits in and everybody, 8 to 80, is having fun! It is addictive and will drive you to spend your hard-earned currency for sure!”

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April 5th, 2010

Bradys Assault Records and Win Custom Class at Hickory Shoot

The 30th Annual Hickory Groundhog and Egg Shoot was held on April 3rd, 2010. Saturday’s competition proved a great day for the Brady family. Our friend (and Forum member) Terry Brady won the Custom Rifle division with a 99 score, setting a new record. Terry edged his son Chris, who shot a 98, matching the previous Custom Class record set by fellow North Carolinian Sam Hall. (That will teach Sam to go fishin’ on shoot day!) The threesome of Terry Brady, Chris Brady, and Greg Cooper also won the Hickory Team competition. Conditions were excellent for Saturday’s match, with calm winds. A total of 167 shooters attended the Hickory Shoot, which offered over $4000.00 in cash, coupons, and hardware.

Terry Chris Brady

Bill Shehane of D&B Supply was on hand for the match. Bill reports: “Chris Brady tied Samuel Hall’s all-time record of 98 points today only to have his father Terry Brady take it away with a scorching 99. Congratulations to this fine Father-Son team for a 1-2 finish in this year’s shoot. That’s a lot of loot for the Brady boys. Couldn’t happen to two better guys and I for one know just how much work it takes to finish 1st and 2nd. Terry told me when he arrived on Saturday morning that he intended to take home a Tracker stock. My Granddad always said if ya can do it — ‘It Ain’t Bragging!'” Actually, Terry didn’t get it quite right. His son Chris won the Tracker while Terry earned $300.00 plus a 50% off coupon for a Nightforce scope. Either way… it’s all in the family.

Terry Brady Busts Record with Heavy 6BR in Custom Class
Terry and Chris Brady brought two guns to the match, both chambered as 6BRs. The first was a special 38-pounder built by Mike Davis. It featured a BAT DS action, weighted Shehane Tracker stock, Krieger gain-twist barrel and Nightforce 12-42x56mm BR scope. The second gun was a 17-pounder built by Glenn Williams with a Borden action, Shehane tracker stock, Krieger 8.5-twist barrel and Nightforce 12x42x56mm BR scope.

Terry reports: “The conditions were almost perfect for shooting. Very small guests of wind with no mirage. I set the new score record with 99. Chris and Josh Duckworth tied the former record set by Sam Hall of 98. Josh was shooting a Borden 6BR as well. 17 people hit the egg at 500 yards, including myself, Chris, Chris’ girlfriend Jessica, and Josh. Chris, Jessica, Ben Yarborough and I busted 4 eggs in a row with the 38-pound rifle before Larry Willis (the Match Director) jokingly asked us to move on and leave some fun for the other guys.”

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April 6th, 2009

Like Father, Like Son — Chris Brady Wins Hickory Shoot

A Brady won the Hickory Groundhog and Egg Shoot this year, but it wasn’t Terry, IBS world-record holder. This year Terry’s son Chris Brady earned top honors among 186 registered competitors, shooting a 91 with his dad’s Borden-built 6 Dasher to win the match overall. This was the combined score for 100, 300, and 500 yards. At the Hickory shoot, one is allowed to shoot two rifles. Doing that, Chris Brady also took 4th place overall with a “super-modified” 33-lb 6BR that Terry built just for events like the Hickory. Greg Cooper took second overall. Tommy McKee was the first to break an Egg. There were only 2 or 3 broken during the day as the wind was tricky and switching left to right.

Conditions, though warm and sunny, suprised the competitors, according to Terry Brady: “All week long it had been cloudy and cold, and that’s what we were tuning for. But it was sunny and warm on Saturday.” Though Terry and Chris were expecting big things from the 33-lb 6BR, it turns out that Terry’s old black Borden (re-chambered from 6BR to 6 Dasher) shot the best. In the black Dasher, the Bradys used a fairly moderate load of 32.5 grains Reloder 15 with Berger 105gr bullets. Terry finished 10th overall.

IBS 600-yard Shooter of the Year Sam Hall praised Chris Brady’s performance: “Just got word that Chris Brady (Terry Brady’s son) won 1st place overall at the Hickory Shoot with a 91. He also got 4th place with his second rifle (the 33-pounder). [Chris] has been in the top 5 or better several times. I’m tickled to death he finally won it! Way to go Chris.”

Chris gave credit to his fellow competitors and suggested that you’ll see him on the firing line again soon: “There was alot of talent on the range today. The wind was a constant battle and the topic of every discussion. All you could do was shoot and pray. Thanks goes out to Dad for all his help (every year), Berger Bullets, D&B Supply, and Bulls Eye Sporting Goods for hosting this competition every year! See everyone at Piedmont sometime soon….” For his 1st Place and 4th Place finishes, Chris won a 50% off certificate for a Nightforce Scope and a D&B Supply (Shehane) Tracker stock.

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