Chris Kravitt (left) keeps an eye on shooters at a recent turkey shoot in Eastbrook sponsored by the Waltham-Eastbrook Youth Association. PHOTO BY STEVE FULLER

Turkey shoot event all about fun, safety and scholarships

EASTBROOK — On Sunday mornings in October, men, women and children who enjoy target shooting gather in an off-the-beaten-path gravel pit to see who among them is the best shot.

They take safety seriously, but still have fun while doing it. They are also vying for the right to take home a frozen turkey or two while raising money to help local students realize their dreams.

The Sunday turkey shoots are sponsored by the Waltham-Eastbrook Youth Association. Chris Kravitt is president of the group, which was formed five years ago.

“The mission for the organization is to give scholarships of all sorts to the youth of the two towns, while having a fun time raising the money,” he explained. In the past year, Kravitt said, the group gave out about $4,000 to children for everything from soccer camp to show choir competitions to a college scholarship.

The turkey shoots are held every Sunday in October from 10 a.m. to noon. Anyone is welcome to attend, and to get there, just look for the signs (with turkey flags flying below them) on Route 200 in Eastbrook.

The gravel pit is owned by Duane Jordan. He lets the group use it for the turkey shoots. A row of 20 targets stands 65 feet away from the firing line, which consists of a wooden rail with numbers matching shooting spots to the targets downrange.

Jim Smith is vice president of the youth association. He made the target stands out of ½- and ¾-inch grounding rods, welded into tire rims as a base support and with screws welded on to hold the paper targets.

There are four categories for target shooting: .22-caliber rifles with iron sights only (no scopes), 20-guage shotgun, 12-guage shotgun, and open. Open includes anything and everything: air rifles, .22-caliber rifles with scopes, larger caliber guns and bows and arrows.

“You can use a slingshot or throw a rock,” Kravitt said. “No one’s taken us up on the throw a rock part yet.”

Competitors pay $2.50 for a ticket that allows them to take part in one round. They sign up for each round, and then go to the firing line when it starts. Kravitt, Smith or another organizer will go down the line and take the tickets, giving ammunition in return (the youth association provides the ammunition for every round except for the open round).

“They don’t get any ammunition until they’re on the firing line with their gun pointing downrange,” Kravitt explained.

After that, an announcement is made that the line is hot and shooters are invited to “fire at will.” The traditional “Who’s Will? Where’s Will? I hope he’s OK!” jokes follow from those in the audience, and after the smoke has cleared organizers check to make sure everyone has fired. If a shooter still has shots to fire, everyone waits until that is done before they are allowed to go and look at their targets.

Once the round is over, guns are returned to wooden racks to wait for their next use.

“We keep an eye on all that,” Kravitt said.

Kravitt and Smith review the targets and score them. For the .22-caliber round, shooters get three shots. Targets are scored by points at first (closer to the target equals more points); then, if there is a tie score, the winner is determined by the tightest grouping of shots.

For the shotgun rounds, scoring is done by the greatest number of pellets within the target’s inner white ring. There is a tie-breaking procedure, which involves a target at 100 feet, if needed.

The winner of each round gets a frozen turkey, though an individual shooter can only win a maximum of two turkeys. For those who are hungry during the event itself, the local 4-H group sells refreshments. Family members often join their relatives at the event to watch the shooting rounds, even if they do not participate themselves.

“A lot of people just come to watch,” Kravitt said. “It’s a competitive shooting event, but it’s a fun thing.”

In that spirit, Kravitt closed by issuing a fun (but still serious) challenge to anyone who is proud of their shooting skills when it comes to hitting targets.

“All you people who think you can shoot,” he said, “come to the turkey shoots and show us your stuff.”

Steve Fuller

Steve Fuller

Reporter at The Ellsworth American,
Steve Fuller worked at The Ellsworth American from 2012 to early 2018. He covered the city of Ellsworth, including the Ellsworth School Department and the city police beat, as well as the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Eastbrook, Great Pond, Mariaville, Osborn, Otis and Waltham. A native of Waldo County, he served as editor of Belfast's Republican Journal prior to joining the American. He lives in Orland.