In the St. Louis region you'll often see signs for "meat shoots" at local V-F-Ws or American Legions. It's a sport some may not be familiar with, but others travel to several events each weekend. IPR's Maria Altman visited a shoot at Elks Lodge 23-16 in Florissant recently to find out more:
The first thing you need to know about a meat shoot... is that they don't shoot animals.
That's right. That's not a crazy question, you know, we get that a lot! Do you shoot the meat? No, you shoot the target.
DeeDee Lakas sits behind cash box at a long table outside the Elks Lodge. She's signing up shooters at 3 dollars per round...
(what are you buyin?)
Most of the money will go to the Elks' charitable work... but the winners will walk away with meat.
"You can win bacon, Miller Ham, they have pork loins, T-bone, sirloin roast, porter house, New York strips, turkeys."
All right we're starting round one The shooting begins at noon... and will go until dusk... and it's loud. Participants use 12-gauge shotguns. They're aiming at a 5 by 5 white card about 60 feet away. Whoever hits closest to the black dot in the middle of their card... wins. Mark Knight says last year he won so many times others asked to use his gun...but his luck has changed.
"It's just the last few weeks I've been shut out, so I'm due today... laughs."
He leans against his truck...and his gun rests on the open tailgate. Knight has been coming here for about five years... he says mostly to hang out with friends and enjoy some shooting... without leaving the city.
"How did you get into coming to meat shoots? Oh, Lord, actually I started doing this long time ago with my grandpa. Yeah, we'd hit the meat shoots down around the Cape Girardeau area. Down there you have to travel a little farther, of course."
Meat shoots are fairly common in Missouri and southern Illinois... with many places holding the event to raise money for charity. But it turns out the shots are NOT unique to this region.
"Most of the ones up here in Ohio are called Turkey Shoots."
Linda Tubbs and her husband, Denny, run Turkeyshoot.net out of their home in Marion, Ohio. After traveling to shoots in several states, the couple decided to start their website for fun and list as many of the events as they could find.
"I think there are probably more shoots in southern states, and there are a lot on the East Coast. There's are a lot of different names for them. They're called still shoots, card shoots, board shoots."
No matter the name Tubbs says most places use shotguns, paper targets and winners take home some cut of meat.
Round 7, shooter 4 is the winner, Round 8, shooter 8))
Back at the Elks Lodge... someone has to decide who the winner if each round is.
Don Motzkus ---a lodge member---has had the job for six years.
"They don't even question me most of the time, because I've been doing it for so long and they know that I'm fair. How much does it take to bribe you? Hey, that won't work, you ain't got enough money (laugh)).
When the call is close Motzkus uses a jeweler's loupe to determine whose shot takes up most of the black center do. After looking through the special magnifying glass he determines Mark Knight's shot just falls short. Knight shakes his head in disbelief.
"I knocked out 7/8th of the black dot and still I lost. It don't get no closer than that, does it."
But---he says---there's always next week at this meat shoot or some other around St. Louis.
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