Sunday morning (stupid early) 3:45 A.M., it’s still dark outside but I can’t sleep anymore so I start the coffee and stepped out on the porch for a smoke. The sky was full of stars and the air was comfortably crisp and still. I sat on the step taking another drag on the cigarette still wondering why I was up so early then it came to me, daylight savings time ended this morning, but still it’s early. The next few hours were more of the same, coffee, smokes, a bit of the early news until the sun started to push the darkness aside, this was my clue to shower, dress and get ready for church. I sat in the pew listening to the sermon, relaxed and at peace, after the service my wife had a few small repairs for me to take care of in the parish office, a broken ceiling panel and install a vent cover (easy stuff). Then she wanted a book case picked up from her mom’s house and brought home for her craft room. When I got home and finished her “Honey Do List” the rest of the day was mine (after a short 45 minute nap… the early start caught up to me).
As I mentioned before, its Sunday but not just any Sunday, it’s the first Sunday of November. For most that doesn’t mean anything special but around here it’s the day one of the top shooting matches of the year (Ham Shoot). Saint Martin’s Catholic Church in Siberia Indiana is one of the small parish communities in the area, unless you happen to be driving along Indiana State Road 62 and notice the sign at the edge of the bean field on the south side of the road… you may never know Siberia Indiana even existed. A church, a few houses, surrounded by farms, hills and woods, a sleepy little place at best.
A ham shoot (also sometimes called turkey shoot, spot shoot or still board shoot) is a simple little event. Shooters cut a + into a piece of cardboard marked with a round and post number then pay $3. When the round comes up the shooters line up side by side (usually 15 to 20 shooters), the cards are placed on post some 30-40 +/- yards away, each shooter loads 1 round in their shotgun (usually 12 gauge) takes aim then shoots at their card. After all the shooters have finished a runner pulls the cards off the posts, taking them to a judge. While the cards are being pulled by the runner another runner is putting cards for the next round on the post and it all starts again. The judge sorts through the cards keeping any that have a pellet mark/hole close to the center of the +, each of these cards are measured (under a magnifying glass if needed, down to .001” at times) the one closes to the center wins. The winner gets a choice of processed ham, bone-in smoked ham or cash (I think it was $20 or $25).
By the time I arrived they were already into round 34, I bought a card and waited my turn… my first shot lost, same on the second but this gave me a chance to see the pattern my gun was sending down range. On my third shot ($9 spent so far) I raised my 870 Wingmaster to my shoulder, three deep breaths and exhaled, the bead was on target and steady, I squeezed the trigger… BAM, a solid hit, I stepped back and waited for the winning card to be announced. Sure enough my card number was announced, I picked a large bone-in ham… (Ham & Bean soup, Ham & Eggs and Ham Sandwiches’ would soon follow). Normally that’s when I stop but I had only been at the match for 20 minutes and still had $11 in my pocket. I shot again but I missed the mark so I took another chance, three deep breaths and exhale, bead on target, trigger squeezed… BAM, another solid hit and again my number was called, another large ham for the freezer. I did take one more shot, a miss but I was already well ahead of what I wanted, it was time to head home (I had some cooking to do).
One thing I noticed as I walked through the crowd, a large ham under each arm, I was met with wide eyes and smiles, words of congratulations and slaps on the shoulders. Although there were winners and losers, no participation trophies, no equality of outcome, in a group of 300+ people and an easy 200 or so guns… No one was shot… no angry words. This happens all over the country on nice Sunday afternoons, cool Friday evenings, at churches, at American Legion Post and VFW’s, Sportsman’s Clubs, etc… I’ve been going to meat shoots for over 30 years now, never once have I seen a disillusioned young "PROGRESSIVE" show up with a rifle and destruction on his mind or an angry thug bent on murder, I guess with the absence of the “Gun Free Zone” sign it’s just not very inviting to them. But according to O and his minions, I’m a Midwestern “Bitter Clinger” clinging to guns and religion… and a danger.
Guns and Religion have both served me well, neither have lied to me…
Can you say the same about O?
Time for dinnerThe TOMCAT