As sunset neared, two shooters were still competing head to head in one of the most contested battles of the day, the "Annie Oakley."
Wayne Wilson and Curtis Blackwell found themselves in a shoot-out that seemed to have no end in sight, as long as you could actually still see.
This standoff marked the final moments in this year's Turkey Shoot, a fundraiser held annually for the Juneau Gun Club and the Juneau Shooting Sports Foundation.
"We were afraid it was going to get dark before we could finish," said Blackwell, a long-time Turkey Shoot competitor.
This trap shooting contest tests the skill of contestants as they line up, side-by-side, each taking his her or turn shooting at a clay pigeon as it sails through the air. If the first shooter misses the target, the next person in line attempts to shoot the clay pigeon while it is still in the air. If a shooter hits the "bird" while still in the air after any competitor misses, then those who missed are eliminated from the event. And so it goes down the line. Blackwell and Wilson were the last ones standing.
With the time well past 3 p.m., the two marksmen battled back and forth until impatience began to settle in. No winner had been crowned after what was mutually considered "more than enough time," so the event came down to sudden death elimination and became a classic trap shooting match. If at shooter misses and the next guy hits, it's over.
Blackwell raised his 12-gauge shotgun to his shoulder, pulled the trigger and the "bird" shattered in different directions.
Wilson, with a bevy of anticipation, sent his shot into the wooded backdrop of the shooting range as the clay pigeon got away.
"They were concerned they were going to run out of shells so they mixed things up a little bit to try to cut it short," said Blackwell. "Wayne Wilson and I were in a head-to-head shoot-off."
But the shoot was not over. There was one event left, which Blackwell won in relatively quick fashion.
At the end of the day competitors gathered to pick up their prize of a Thanksgiving turkey. Blackwell said because he won several turkeys, he would be going to the church to donate some of his winnings.
The Turkey Shoot, which has been a tradition in Juneau for decades not only raises funds for the Juneau Gun Club, but also for the newly completed Juneau Hunter Education Shooting Complex.
JGC Treasurer Steve Bennett said the event went well, but that participation was down this year.
"We can only speculate that it's partially because of the economy and partially the fact that some of our advertising wasn't seen," he said. "We had good attendance, but I don't think people were spending as much and things seemed to be a little slower. We had a lot of volunteers this year, so that was good, and everyone seemed to have a good time."
The JGC held 29 events at their outdoor range, while the indoor range held 27 events for a total of 56 winners.
Bennett said the Turkey Shoot is partly responsible for the revitalization of the Juneau Gun Club over the past eight years, and members appreciate what the group has done.
Matthew Tynan can be reached at email@example.com.
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