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

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April 5th, 2018

Hickory Groundhog Shoot In North Carolina This Weekend

hickory groundhog shoot vail north carolina larry willis

The Hickory Groundhog and Egg Shoot, the richest varmint shoot East of the Mississippi, is just two days away. Now in its 38th year, the popular Hickory Shoot will be held this Saturday, April 7, 2018 starting at 8:00 am. The event is 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 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.

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 other prizes. The event is held near Hickory, North Carolina.

hickory groundhog shoot vail north carolina larry willis

Hickory 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 that can not get down in 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 an all-time record with a 99 score. Terry was shooting a straight 6mmBR rifle, 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.

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

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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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March 30th, 2015

Grab Your Guns — The Hickory Groundhog Shoot is April 4th

The Hickory Groundhog and Egg Shoot, the richest varmint shoot East of the Mississippi, is just days away. Now in its 35th year, the hugely popular Hickory Shoot will be held this upcoming Saturday, April 4, 2015 starting at 8:00 am. If you have any questions call 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 is 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. So get your best rifle, load up some ammo and head to the Hickory range located at 8216 Will Hudson Road, Lawndale NC 28090. The practice range will be open until 6:00 pm Tuesday-Thursday, but will close at 1:00 pm on Friday.

How to Get to the Hickory Shoot

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.

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November 8th, 2014

Hammer Time: Father and Daughter Enjoy IBS Benchrest Matches

Story by Jaime Hammer, IBS Social Media Manager
Paul Hammer was introduced to benchrest rifle shooting by his friend Bill Adcox at the Greenville Gun Club (in Greenville, SC) about five years ago. He has been an avid skeet shooter for most of his life, but his daughter never fell in love with that sport. The first time he took her to the rifle range with him, she was hooked. She loved the precision of it and that it’s very relaxing. If you haven’t been able to tell by now, I’m his daughter. What began slowly as a fun hobby that we could enjoy together picked up speed a year and a half ago, when we went to our first IBS match, a 100/200 yard match at Piedmont Gun Club. From then on, he spent much of his free time learning about the sport, from techniques to types of guns to how to reload his own ammunition.

Paul Hammer and Daughter Jaime Enjoy Time at the Range Together…
Paul and Jaime Hammer

He frequently practices or competes in both group and score matches at 100, 200, and 600 yards at Piedmont Gun Club, Polk County Gun Club, and Greenville Gun Club. This year, he even competed for the first time in the annual Groundhog and Egg Shoot in Hickory, NC hosted by Bull’s Eye Sporting Goods. His smallest group, made while practicing at 100 yards with a 6 PPC, was 0.17 inch. His best score, made at 100 yards at the NC State Championship with a 6 PPC, was 249 with 8 Xs (he commented that he “made a perfect score with 5 Xs on the sighter target!”).

He said, “For me, benchrest rifle shooting is enjoyable because there’s so much to learn, and the people you meet along the way are nice and helpful. It’s fun and challenging.” Although he always tries and wants to shoot well, at the end of the day, he just enjoys the sport, spending time with his daughter, and meeting new people.

Paul and Jaime Hammer

Part of his benchrest education has come from helping plan benchrest matches for Polk County Gun Club. Last September, in conjunction with Tony Moss, Paul began organizing monthly 100/300 yard groundhog and egg shoots. In doing so, he has learned more about shooting and what it takes to put together a successful benchrest rifle match. Paul and Tony are currently working with the board of directors to improve Polk County Gun Club’s rifle range and install target backers to get approval to hold IBS matches there.

If you would like to contact Paul to discuss the monthly Polk County Gun Club rifle matches or chat about general benchrest topics, send email to: paulhammer [at] bellsouth.net.

Photos by Jaime Hammer.

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April 13th, 2011

2011 Hickory Groundhog Shoot Match Report

The 2011 Hickory Groundhog and Egg Shoot at Vale, NC was a big success. Some 177 shooters vied for over $7,000 worth of prizes. The main course of fire was challenging, with 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. For the primary three-yardage Groundhog match, there are two rifle classes: Custom Division and Factory Division. The match, one of the most popular varmint competitions in the country, is sponsored by Bulls-Eye Sporting Goods (Larry Willis, owner). The event is held every year on the first Saturday in April.

This year’s “Top Shot” at the Hickory was Randy Chappell. Shooting a 6 BRDX (we were told), Randy scored 90 points to win the Custom Division. Randy took home a new Nightforce NXS scope plus $300.00. Runner-up Robbie Roberts steered his 6BR to second place in Custom, earning him a Sightron Scope and $150.00 in cash. Finishing third in Custom Division was past Hickory winner Chris Brady, Terry Brady’s son. Chris, who also shot a 6BR, took home a Shehane Tracker stock and $50.00.

Hickory Groundhog Shoot Winners 2011

CUSTOM Division 1st Place, 90 points
Randy Chappell
2nd Place, 82 points
Robby Roberts
3rd Place, 80 points
Chris Brady
FACTORY Division 1st Place, 72 points
Greg Davis
2nd Place, 59 points
Jeff Godfrey
3rd Place, 59 points
Jason Elmosre

Rock River AR Wins Factory Division
There were some surprises this year in the Factory Division. While many folks expected a Savage 6BR or 6.5-284 to win, that wasn’t in the cards. This year a semi-auto ‘Black Rifle’ outshot all the factory bolt guns. Greg Davis scored 72 points with his .223 Rem Rock River AR15 to win the Factory division by a comfortable margin. The next best Factory shooters, Jeff Godfrey and Jason Elmore, both had identical 59-point totals. Godfrey was awarded second place over Elmore on a tie-breaker.

Rock River AR15

6mm BR BRDXChallenging Conditions on the Range
Conditions at the Hickory were pretty tough this year. Sam Hall, a past Hickory winner and IBS Shooter of the year explained: “It was difficult this year, with 20+ mph, gusty winds in the afternoon. This is a ‘no sighters’ match and I was having trouble with my cold bore zero. I wasn’t the only one.”

The 6 BRDX — The Best BR Improved Yet?
Shooting his new 6 BRDX, Sam finished eighth in Custom Division, with 73 points. Sam likes the 6 BRDX chambering, which is a 6BR Improved with a 40° shoulder, but with a longer neck than a BRX or Dasher. “I’m real happy with the BRDX… I think it is as accurate as a BRX or Dasher, but the brass is much easier to form. Randy Chappell told me the same thing. I think it has enough case capacity to hit the velocities we want. The BRDX was shooting ‘lights out’ earlier this year, but I think maybe my tune wasn’t right for the conditions at the Hickory.”

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