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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May 13th, 2010

Live Gun Talk Radio Broadcasts from NRA Annual Meeting

The 2010 NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina May 14th – May 16th. If you can’t make it to Charlotte, tune in to Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk® Radio this Saturday. Tom will broadcast LIVE from the NRA Show (at the Charlotte Convention Center) on Saturday, May 15 from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM Eastern. Gresham will deliver his radio show from the Springfield Armory booth, #1803. All NRA Meeting attendees are welcome to stop by the booth and “watch” the radio show.

Guntalk Radio
Guests will include Springfield Armory’s Rob Leatham with a big announcement, Mossberg, Corbon, Armed Citizens Network, Viridian Green Laser, and Hodgdon Powder. Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk Radio is in its 15th year of national syndication and runs on 94 stations, plus SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio. Podcast versions of Gun Talk shows are available through Apple iTunes or the Gun Talk Archive.

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October 4th, 2009

Ballard and Biggs Win 2009 F-Class Nationals

As the trophy presentation concluded, our correspondent, John Whidden, filed this report from the 2009 F-Class Nationals at Camp Butner, NC. John reports that Charles Ballard (1328-62X) successfully defended his 2008 F-Open Title, edging Jim Murphy (1327-59X) by just one point. Both men were shooting 7mms — Ballard a straight .284 and Murphy a 7mm short magnum. The duel between Ballard and Murphy went down to the wire, but Ballard is now the F-Open Champ for the second year in a row. In F-TR class, Danny Biggs also won his second straight National Championship, finishing first with 1288-38X, four points ahead of Jeff Rorer (1284-34X). Congratulations to Charles and Danny on their back-to-back victories, and all the shooters who competed at the Nationals!

F-Class National Championships, 2009 Final Results
1st Charles Ballard: 1328-62X
2nd Jim Murphy: 1327-59X
3rd Brian Otey: 1321-47X
1st Danny Biggs: 1288-38X
2nd Jeff Rorer: 1284-34X
3rd Derek Rogers: 1283-33X

Milder Winds on Saturday, but Challenges Remained
Whidden reported that conditions were better on Saturday (Oct. 3) than on Friday: “On Friday it was tricky — winds were whipping everyone’s tail.” On Saturday, John said: “Winds were generally lighter, predominantly from the left, and a good deal more readable. We didn’t see the fishtailing winds as before. Saturday was a warm day, with highs about 85° and lots of sunshine.”

Even with milder weather, shooting at Butner can be challenging. John told us: “Having shot the Butner range before is definitely an advantage — experience helps. There are a few nuances you have to learn. For example, there is some vertical that comes off the berms, particularly if you have headwinds or tailwinds.” However, John added, “this vertical treated everyone pretty much the same. One side of the range wasn’t worse than another.” John noted that squading changes on Saturday (shifting from 4 relays to 6, with fewer firing points) created some initial confusion and made for a longer day. After shooting about half the match with six relays, shooters were re-organized back to four squads. Overall, however, everything went pretty smoothly.

2009 F-Class Nationals, Camp Butner, NC
Image courtesy NRAblog.com.

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April 19th, 2009

Joel Pendergraft Sets New IBS 1000-Yard Heavy Gun World Record

Pendergraft record Hawks RidgeYesterday, April 18th, Joel Pendergraft of Durham, NC put 10 shots into 3.048″ to set a new IBS 1000-yard Heavy Gun World record. Competing at Hawks Ridge, NC, Joel set the record with his big, 300 Ackley Improved HG fitted with an unusual water-cooled 12-twist, 4-groove Krieger barrel. Joel shot BIB 187gr flat-based bullets in Norma brass, pushed by a “generous amount” of Alliant Reloder 25 and Federal 210M primers.

This 3.048″ 10-shot group was a remarkable accomplishment, breaking one of the longest standing 1000-yard World Records. Bill Shehane commented: “This tops the NBRSA, IBS, and Original Williamsport Clubs’ all-time 10-shot Heavy Gun group records. Took a long time to do it and I for one know Joel did not back into it — he has worked harder than most the last 10 years to break this record. And just like John Voneida of the Original Williamsport Club who held this most prestigous record for so long, Joel is a super nice guy and a great competitor.”

Joel Pendergraft

Pendergraft’s fellow 1K competitors were quick to praise his accomplishment. Dave Tooley observed: “I still remember the day I suggested flat-based bullets to Joel and the laugh I got. Well he was laughing today. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Glad I was there to see it.” Posting on Benchrest Central, “4Mesh” wrote: “Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy! That gun showed some serious promise last year at the World Open and anything that cranks off targets like the one you shot there, has what it takes.” Jim Hardy added: “The new record is great but no better than the fine man who shot it. Everyone who knows Joel will say the same thing — he is one of the finest men you will ever meet. He lives the life, and walks the walk and has paid his dues in the 1000-yard BR game to get the record.”

Joel Pendergraft

Joel Pendergraft

Pendergraft was modest after his notable achievement: “Some of the words spoken are too kind. What makes this so very special is to be able to celebrate the accomplishment with all of my shooting friends[.] A good friend once said that records are shot when preparation and opportunity meet. I feel blessed to have personally had the opportunity. The preparation we can individually work on and acheive but the opportunity only comes to a few. Those of you that compete in longe range competition will know what I mean.”

Joel Pendergraft

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