The weekend’s top shooters included (L-R): Scott Kirsch, 20 Gauge Open Division Champion; Jacob Miles, JAKES Division Champion; Karie Scott, Ladies’ Division Champion; and (kneeling) Brian Sloan, 12 Gauge Open and Black Powder Division Champion.
EDGEFIELD, S.C. — Bluebird skies and southern hospitality greeted almost 50 of the world’s best still target shooters as they gathered at the Wild Turkey Center in Edgefield Oct. 3 to Oct. 4 for a weekend of closely matched but friendly competition during the World Wild Turkey Still Target Championships.
The event challenges shooters to put the most pellets inside a 3-inch circle on a paper target from a distance of 40 yards, which is the maximum shooting distance the NWTF recommends.
Brian Sloan from Statesville, N.C., won both the 12 Gauge Open and Black Powder Divisions. Other winners included Scott Kirsch from Cloverdale, Ind., Karie Willis from Oakdale, Tenn. and Jacob Miles from Statesville, N.C., who won the 20 Gauge Open, Ladies’ and JAKES Divisions, respectively.
During the shoot, competitors were challenged to continually compensate for variations in temperature and wind as chilly mornings gave way to warm afternoons. Most shooters brought several guns so they could change if their first choice wasn’t shooting quite right.
“As the barrel temperature changes, so does the point of impact on the target,” said past Still Target World Champion Steve Conover, who remained a contender all weekend but ultimately fell to his friends Sloan and Kirsch while competing in the 12 and 20 Gauge Open classes. “There are a lot of factors at play that you must consider if you want to beat the world’s best here at NWTF headquarters,” Conover added.
Originally known as a “turkey shoot,” the NWTF’s Still Target Championships were conceived 17 years ago as a conservation effort to help turkey hunters better understand point of aim and point of impact of their turkey guns.
“The ultimate goal of the competition is to reduce crippling loss and misses in the field, but it’s also a great way for equipment manufacturers to improve their turkey hunting products,” said Rhett Simmons, NWTF director of special events.
Sloan came into a zone of concentration on Saturday, scoring an impressive 32 in the 12 Gauge Open class with his custom Savage shotgun, enough to best Kirsch’s Browning BPS, which other shooters dubbed the “Purple Paper Eater.”
“Things went exceptionally well for me today,” said Sloan. “I wasn’t shooting that great during the semi-finals in the mornings, but that’s okay because I expected my guns to get hot in the afternoon and start shooting better during the finals. They did just that, and I was able to make the crucial shot during the finals when it mattered most.”
Sloan went on to say that he encourages all shooters to try still target shooting.
“Still target shooting is very easy to get into and compete in. The black powder guns that we shoot with are stock guns straight from the factory, and that makes the cost of entry pretty affordable for anyone who wants to compete. For example, I won the 12 Gauge Open Black Powder World Championship here last year with a stock gun. This is a family sport, and it’s great to be able to bring the family along because everybody can have a great time shooting,” Sloan said.
Kirsch began still target shooting in 2007 after watching Conover at another shoot.
“Once I shot a few times, I really got hooked and received a lot of help from the competitors,” said Kirsch. “I like to turkey hunt but this is a lot of fun too, and everything I’ve learned during competitions has helped me in the field when I’m turkey hunting.”
Proceeds from the NWTF World Wild Turkey Still Target Championships will benefit Wheelin’ Sportsmen NWTF, an outreach program that provides opportunities for people with disabilities to experience outdoor fun.