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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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February 17th, 2014

Basics of Groundhog Matches with Paper Targets

Gene F. (aka “TenRing” in our Forum), provides this basic intro to Groundhog matches, East-Coast style.

Groundhog Matches Are Growing in Popularity
Though Groundhog matches are very popular in many parts of the country, particularly on the east coast, I’ve found that many otherwise knowledgeable “gun guys” don’t know much about this form of competition. A few weeks ago, I ordered custom bullets from a small Midwest bullet-maker. He asked what type of competition the bullets would be used for, and I told him “groundhog shoots”. He had not heard of these. It occurs to me that perhaps many others are unfamiliar with this discipline.

Groundhog matches have grown rapidly in popularity. There are numerous clubs hosting them in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware, as well as other venues. They are usually open to the public. Most Eastern clubs have five to twenty cement benches, and overhead roofs. At this time, there is no central source for match schedules. If you’re interested in going to a groundhog match, post a query in the AccurateShooter Forum Competition Section, and you should get some info on nearby opportunities.

How Matches Are Run — Course of Fire and Scoring
Unlike NRA High Power Matches, there is no nationwide set of standard rules for Groundhog matches. Each club has their own rules, but the basics are pretty similar from club to club. Paper groundhog targets are set at multiple distances. There are normally three yardages in the match. Some clubs place targets at 100, 200, and 300 yards. Other clubs set them at 200, 300, or 400 yards. At my club in Shippensburg, PA, our targets are placed at 200, 300 and 500 meters.

The goal is to score the highest total. The paper targets have concentric scoring rings. The smallest ring is normally worth ten points while the large ring is worth five points. The course of fire varies among the various clubs. Most clubs allow unlimited sighters and five shots on the record target in a given time period. Only those five shots on the scoring rings are counted, so that with three yardages, a perfect score would be 150 points. Tie breakers may be determined by total number of dead center or “X” strikes; or, by smallest group at the farthest distance.

Types of Rifles Used at Groundhog Matches
The same benchrest rigs found at IBS and NBRSA matches can be utilized (though these will typically be put in a ‘custom’ class). Though equipment classes vary from club to club, it is common to separate the hardware into four or five classes. Typical firearm classes can include: factory rifle; deer hunter; light varmint custom (usually a limit of 17 lbs.with scope); and heavy varmint custom (weight unlimited). Some clubs allow barrel tuners, others do not. Scope selection is usually unlimited; however, some restrict hunter class rifle scopes to 20 power. Factory rifles usually cannot be altered in any way.

Good, Simple Fun Shooting — Why Groundhog Shoots Are Popular
Forum member Danny Reever explains 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. 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. The low entry cost also encourages young guys to get involved who don’t have $4000 custom rifles or the money to buy them.

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!

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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)

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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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March 30th, 2010

30th Annual Hickory Groundhog Shoot this Saturday, April 3rd

The Hickory Groundhog Shoot, the nation’s most popular groundhog shooting competition, will be held Saturday, April 3rd in Vale, North Carolina. Now in its 30th year, this is the biggest Varmint competition on the East Coast, with over $4000.00 worth of prizes awarded each year, including $1000.00 in cash.

You can compete individually or as part of 3-man teams. The entry fee is $25 per gun, plus (optional) $10 per team. There will also be a 500-yard Egg Shoot with a $2.00 entry fee.

Custom or Factory Classes — Simple Rules — Valuable Prizes
There are two classes, custom and factory, and the rules are pretty basic. You can run pretty much anything but a rail gun in custom class, and you can use any kind of front rest (including one-piece rests). A “factory” gun must be “bone stock” as purchased and you are limited to bipod, sandbags, or basic pedestal style front rest. The only modifications allowed for factory class are: 1) bedding job; and 2) trigger tuning (without replacement parts). Competitors may enter one gun in each class, but the fee is $25.00 per gun.

This year, ALL targets will be at known distances: 100, 300, and 500 yards. That should be a cake walk for you 1000-yard shooters. In the past, 6BRs, 6BR Improveds and the mid-size 6mms have been the calibers to beat. To see what it takes to win, read this article about Harold Seagroves’ Spencer-built 6BR (below), which has won the Hickory Shoot multiple times.

Hickory Shoot gun

The range will be open for practice Monday through Friday the week preceding the match. The practice range is open ’til 6:00 pm Tu-Thurs, but will close at 1:00 pm on Friday. The match will start 8 o’clock sharp Saturday morning, April 3rd. If you have any questions call Larry Willis, Bulls Eye Sporting Goods, (704) 462-1948, or visit www.BullseyeLarry.com. To find the actual range using online maps or your GPS, use this address: 8216 Will Hudson Road, Lawndale, NC 28090.

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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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