Clark, this is a good topic for discussion....and I especially would like to hear your ideas on what kinds of modifications to the still target shoot format would attract more participants and make the competitions more interesting and equitable for those involved.
Personally, I have participated in a number of still target shoots over the last several years, although none of them have been anything other than friendly get-togethers with members of our local and/or state chapters of NWTF. Although I have enjoyed all of these events, in which almost all of the shooters have been content to shoot "factory" guns and chokes, it seemed pretty obvious to me that if someone got serious enough about the shoots to really want to win them with regularity, they could develop a gun that would outperform almost all "standard" guns and chokes.
Now, I could be mistaken in that assessment, and I readily admit that I have no qualifications or expertise on the subject at all. I also recognize from reading your submissions here over the last year or so, that you are probably the foremost authority on this subject on this forum, and most likely well beyond the confines of this group. So correct me if I am wrong, but it would seem that an individual with the luxury of time, money, and interest could readily develop a gun that would put her/him in an elite class of shooters that the average guy could not come close to competing with in the still target format.
...But getting back to my own personal experience with the shoots, and to the reason I make the above statement. Like I stated, I have taken part in a number of these shoots, and had always used my "standard" turkey guns with mostly factory chokes in them. I was competitive, but not outstanding in the shoots...until, on a whim, I decided to pull out an old Winchester autoloader that a well-known gunsmith had modified for me for turkey hunting about twenty-five years ago. Because this gun would only shoot 2 3/4" shells, and did not have all of the "bells and whistles" that my newer custom turkey guns have, I had relegated it to the gun closet years ago.
To make a long story short, I won the first shoot I used that gun in, and will likely win more of these "amateur" events, if I choose to keep shooting it. However, I feel a little uneasy about using it in these friendly little gatherings we have each year, especially against a bunch of guys that are just using their factory guns and chokes. My conscience in this matter bothered me enough that, at our last shoot, I offered to let any of the other competitors shoot that gun in the competition if they wanted to. ....And, in fact, I am considering suggesting that, at our future shoots, a rule be instated that allows any shooter to choose to shoot another competitors gun in the competition if they so choose.
Which brings us back full-circle to your question about how to make these shoots more competitive and interesting for all. Just do what I suggest, and instate a rule that allows any competitor the option of shooting any gun that is being used in the competition! Wouldn't that make things more interesting!? ....and probably really P.O. those guys that have spent thousands of dollars and hours developing guns just so they could win these shoots! (LOL)