Long range match

By Sarah Pridgeon

Reckon you could shoot a prairie dog from a mile distant – with a handgun? Participants in the MOA Cold Turkey Long Range Handgun Match next weekend will attempt exactly that during a special grand finale.

“At the end of the shoot, we’re going to put a piece of steel about three foot by three foot out there and a black prairie dog in front of it. It’s going to be sitting at a mile and we’re going to see how many people can hit it,” says founder Richard Mertz of MOA Guns.

“If somebody hits that thing at a mile, I’ll give them that piece of steel and they can take it home and brag about it.”

Shooting a handgun at 1000 yards isn’t a common skill, he says, but those who give it a go at the annual event often surprise themselves and come back for another try – and another, and another.

“We had a guy come out from Illinois two years ago, he was vacationing with his wife and daughter, and he had his handgun along,” he recalls.

“He decided to stop and watch the shooting and wanted to know if he could try it – everyone up at the line said yeah, let’s get you on the bench, so he tried it and he was so enthusiastic. He comes back every year now and is so excited, that’s kind of what happens.”

A lot of the handgun enthusiasts who participate once then become regular competitors, Mertz says.

“The majority are die-hard shooters who want to come back and participate. Of course, we have a lot of the industry helping us out, giving scopes for prizes and stuff like that,” he says.

“We usually end up with anywhere between $4000 and $6000 worth of prizes to give up, but a lot of people, even if there was no prize whatsoever for doing it, they’d still come and shoot.”

This year, Mertz says that 25 shooters are expected to take part in the Cold Turkey shoot, including some new faces.

“We call it the Cold Turkey Shoot because there just aren’t a lot of people who have shot handguns at 1000 yards, so when they come and try it they’re coming in cold turkey,” he smiles.

One participant comes down each year from Canada, Mertz says, but his friends back home simply don’t believe he can shoot a handgun at 1000 yards. A couple of years ago, he shot a group that was about two-and-a-half inches at 750 yards.

“Each one of us guys who were out there working the target line signed it as a witness and gave it to him to take back,” Mertz grins.

Spectators are also invited at any time during the three-day event, including to Friday evening’s BBQ.

“If you would like to come out and watch, you are more than welcome,” says Mertz, noting that anyone interested in trying their hand at a 1000-yard handgun shoot can sign up just before the event begins, at 7 a.m. on June 15.

Mertz is hoping that the event will continue to grow in the future and attract participants from farther afield even than northern America. He has heard interest from residents of Australia and France and aims to continue pushing for widespread participation in the coming years.

This year’s event will take place June 15-17, meeting at MOA Guns at 7 a.m. On the first day, participants will begin shooting at 500 yards and then move to 750 yards. Once the 750-yard round is complete, the event will move on to that all-important 1000-yard shoot.

More information can be found at moaguns.com or by calling 283-3030.