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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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:

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