A Sporting Community

One reads in James Fennimore Coopers’ The Pioneers about an early turkey shoot in upstate New York. Herein, a prize turkey was buried in the snow up to its neck and the shooter, who had paid a shilling, attempted to shoot its bobbing, red head at a distance of between twenty-five and thirty-five yards. Today, many would consider this an uncouth and perhaps even unsportsmanlike competition, but in 1823, the year in which Coopers’ novel appeared, the challenge of hitting the mark at that distance with a smooth-bore musket would have been considerable, and the promise of getting a turkey for a shilling extremely tempting. As rifling made shooters more precise, this gave rise in military parlance to a turkey shoot referring to an opportunity that can very easily be taken advantage of as when an enemy is caught off-guard or dramatically outgunned.

In many places throughout America, the turkey shoot has remained a popular pastime as frozen turkeys have been substituted for live ones. Typically, the turkey shoot is a straightforward event, similar to a shoot-out-the-bullseye, carnival-style game. In Ridgeview’s case, it is rather more elaborate.

The objective of our event is to bring families together in friendly competition and comradery to do something uniquely Western, something specific to the season, and something particular to Ridgeview. While we award frozen turkeys and frozen game hens, we do a bit more than just shoot the red out of the target. We shoot trap and sporting clays, and run an action range for the adults while our younger students compete in marksmanship contests with .22 caliber rifles. With many corporate and retail sponsors, there are numerous prizes given away for all of these contests as well as the raffle we encourage attendees to participate in.

Many people who have attended in the past have had essentially no shooting experience, but they have nevertheless found it enjoyable enough that they have taken up memberships at local ranges, pursued hunter safety courses, purchased a firearm, and found a new way of forming memories with friends and family. Whether it was with seasoned veterans or newcomers, the Turkey Shoot has proven to be a welcoming venue for all members of our community. There is even a chili cookoff in the clubhouse, a petting zoo, and an abundance of games for our youngest Hoplites.

Finally, it should be noted that a charter school must make a community for itself rather than relying on being located within one. It is events like the Turkey Shoot that provide Ridgeview with a distinctive opportunity to bring together the various members of this community and celebrate what we hope will be a crisp, autumn day on November 10th. We hope to see you at Great Guns Sporting in Nunn, Colorado, and we are grateful for your being a part of our community.

D. Anderson


Mr. Anderson