Sportsmen club's turkey shoot's primary target is safety

By Lauri Voter - Staff Writer
Ashford - posted Thu., Nov. 8, 2012
To ensure safety and structure, Eastern Connecticut Sportsmen Club range safety officer David Simpson accompanies first-time shooter Melissa Works to the line as she participates in a Nov. 4 turkey shoot. A range safety officers accompanies every shooter. Photos by Lauri Voter.
To ensure safety and structure, Eastern Connecticut Sportsmen Club range safety officer David Simpson accompanies first-time shooter Melissa Works to the line as she participates in a Nov. 4 turkey shoot. A range safety officers accompanies every shooter. Photos by Lauri Voter.

Members of the Eastern Connecticut Sportsmen Club, as well as some of their family members, gathered at the club's location in Ashford on Sunday, Nov. 4, to try their luck at taking home a Thanksgiving turkey. The private, membership-based club conducts turkey shoots each Sunday. These events are open to the public.

The event's name – “turkey shoot” – might ruffle the feathers of some who misunderstand the concept by assuming that weekend warriors load up their shotguns to take potshots at live turkeys. While real shotguns and ammunition are provided by the club for use in turkey shoots, the actual targets are paper on which is printed the image of a turkey. Competitors purchase rounds, and winners are awarded frozen turkeys.

ECSC President Dan Leach said that the goal of the turkey shoot is to hit the paper target's center ring, roughly located at the image of the turkey's neck. At the end of each round, the paper targets are collected and judged. The ammunition scatters the target with holes – provided the shooter actually hits it. The competitor whose shot is closest to the ring wins.

The events are not just for experienced sportsmen. Members of the public who have little or no experience with guns may compete. While these competitors may not walk away with the prize turkey, they will have an opportunity to gain some insight about gun use and gun safety. To this end, ECSC shoots are conducted with safety in mind. For instance, a certified range safety officer accompanies each shooter – experienced or not – to the line to ensure that the events are conducted in a safe and structured manner in order to avoid accidents.

Stafford resident Melissa Works, whose uncle is a member of the club, tried her hand at the turkey shoot. A first-time competitor, she said she was nervous about firing the gun and did not know what to expect. “I hit two and missed three,” she said, adding that she felt the club provided a safe environment.

Most shooters at the Nov. 4 event hit their targets, with the exception of two or three. The winner of the last round was club treasurer Greg Turansky, who offered some feedback about hits and misses. “Generally, it's a flinch when you miss the whole target,” he said. “Especially if it's a first time you're shooting a gun... you tend to jerk it when you're pulling the trigger, because you're anticipating the noise and you don't know what the recoil's going to be. But, after you shoot a couple of times, it becomes almost second nature.”

The turkey shoots are “a good way to get people that have never shot a gun, or handled firearms, or don't really know much about them... it's a great event to get them incorporated to shooting and doing it safely, handling guns safely,” said ECSC club member Nicholas Simpson, at the club's Nov. 5 meeting.

Although ECSC is an exclusive club, it also serves the community by providing other open-to-the-public events such as a kids' fishing derby in the spring. In May 2013, it will hold a new event, “Take a Vet Fishing,” for residents of the Newington Veterans Hospital. Currently, in conjunction with local social services agencies, the club is coordinating a Christmas basket collection for local families.

ECSC's final turkey shoot of the season will be Sunday, Nov. 18, at 11 a.m.


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