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Good Fit, Open Choke Can Produce More Busted Clays

Friday, August 01, 2008

Photo: National Wild Turkey Federation
Rick Hemingway has won more than 150 sporting clays events during his career.

Shooters from around the country are chomping at the bit to shatter clay targets at the National Wild Turkey Federation's 15th annual Turkey Shoot, set for Aug. 15-17 at The Meadows National Gun Club in Forsyth, Ga.

For tips on how shooters can bust more clays at this year's Turkey Shoot, the NWTF recently spoke with expert shooter Rick Hemingway. The humble Georgetown, S.C., native has won more than 150 shotgun tournaments during his career, and estimates that he's shot an astounding 350,000 to 400,000 shells during practice and competition.

Hemingway is the current National Sporting Clays Association (NSCA) South Carolina state champion, a two-time NSCA southeastern regional champion and has also finished as high as 7th place in the NSCA national championship.

The first piece of advice Hemingway offered was for shooters to make sure their shotgun fits their body.

"Think of your shotgun as an extension of your body," Hemingway said. "Everyone's body is different, and if holding your gun doesn't feel comfortable and natural to you, you will be fighting it every step of the way and most likely shooting off target."

Customize It

To get the best possible fit from your shotgun, Hemingway noted that having a gun shop customize the stock and shoulder pad of your gun can work wonders on a shooter's hit ratio. He also said that spending just an hour with a professional shooting coach can reveal flaws in a shooter's form that he or she may not recognize.

"It really helps to have a trained professional evaluate your shooting stance," he said. "Doing so will help eliminate bad habits that could keep you from shattering more targets."

Hemingway also suggests using an improved cylinder choke instead of a modified choke. Improved cylinder choke gives a wider pattern than modified, he said, and a wider shot pattern improves the chances of seeing the target explode into a cloud of dust.

When choosing shot shells, Hemingway says he prefers a low-power, No. 8 shell with a 2 3/4 to 3 dram rating. "I've seen a lot of people use high-powered shells and flinch due to fear of the recoil," he said. "By using 2 3/4 or r 3 dram shells, I can calmly zero in on the target and pull the trigger instead of flinching due to anticipating recoil. Plus, by using shells full of No. 8 shot, I get more pellets in the air to improve my odds of crushing the target."

Hemingway's final tip was to have a great time; something he says is very easy to do at the NWTF's Turkey Shoot.

"The NWTF Turkey Shoot is always one of the premier events on my list," he said. "It's a fun-loving crowd, and the prizes the NWTF offers are some of the best for the money that you'll find anywhere. I always have a great time."

The total prize package for the Turkey Shoot totals more than $100,000, including a raffle for a 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe.

A Good Cause

Rhett Simmons, NWTF director of special events, noted that the Turkey Shoot offers a competitive but friendly environment for shooters of all skill levels. Proceeds will benefit Wheelin' Sportsmen, an outreach program that provides opportunities for men and women with disabilities to enjoy outdoor recreation activities.

"This is an exciting event the whole family can participate in, and we welcome everyone to come out and join us for an action-packed weekend as we help raise money for a great cause," said Simmons.

There's still time to enter. For the registration form, click here.


The list of 2008 NWTF Turkey Shoot sponsors includes: ATK/Federal, Bad Boy Buggies, Bank of America, Baron Technology, Inc., Bass Pro Shops, Benelli USA, Bibb Distributing Co., Briley Manufacturing Co., Browning/Simpson Sales, Cabela's, Chevy Trucks, ClayShootingUSA, Evans Sports, Inc., Gamaliel, Henry Repeating Arms, Knight Rifles, Leupold & Stevens, Inc., Low Country BBQ, National Shooting Sports Foundation, O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc., Outdoor Channel, Plano Molding, Pyramex Safety Products, Randy Ryan, Remington Arms Co., Inc., Sarge Knives, Schrade Knives, Sporting Clays Magazine, The Marlin Firearms/H&R 1871, LLC, U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, Walker's Game Ear, Wild Turkey Bourbon and Winchester Ammunition.

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