Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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IL: ATA extends its stay at World Shooting Complex

Sparta, Ill. – Along with the sound of shotgun blasts, there was
a bit of a buzz surrounding the 2011 Grand American.

The event kicked off Aug. 3 and is still going on at the World
Shooting Complex. This marks the sixth year the trapshooting
championships are being held at Sparta’s World Shooting and
Recreational Complex.

And, just before this year’s event began, it was announced that the
event will be in Sparta until at least 2026.

The extension has people talking.

“Actually, I’ve heard quite a few positive comments about it,” said
Amateur Trapshooting Association President Jeff Wagner. “People
wanted to know. Vendors were wondering where they were going to go.
Some of the campers were on five-year leases.

“I think it gave people confidence [that] this is our home.”

There have been some rumors circulating that with the extension in
place the Amateur Trapshooting Association will move its offices to
Sparta.

“I think that is definitely on the back burner,” Wagner said.
“That’s nothing we’ve even talked about.”

There is also some excitement about an additional $200,000 in prize
money. The money was donated by Bill and Lee Ann Martin and will be
placed in the Lewis classes.

“I think it is certainly a draw for people,” Wagner said. “It’s
really a gracious thing they’ve done. I think it’s created a new
buzz.

“The Lewis thing is based somewhat on skill, somewhat on chance.
It’s a lot of fun for people to play. It’s a special option people
can play.”

In addition, this is the second year of the $100,000 Grand American
Challenge.

Ten shooters are competing in a winner-take-all competition for
$100,000. Competitors will be the eight winners of handicap events
throughout the week, the high shooter for the 800 handicap targets
and a shooter drawn by lottery.

Devon Harris, of Loganport, Ind., won the event last year.

Finally, Wagner said the AIM (Academics, Integrity, Marksman ship)
competition has been growing every year.

“We expect a really good turnout for the AIM shooting event,” he
said. “They [scholastic shooters] bring their own element of
excitement. To me, it’s kind of like going to a state track meet.
It adds a new buzz to it. You get a real camaraderie.”

Advance registration pointed to a good year for The Grand.

And that’s just in time, given the state of the economy and other
outside factors.

“We’ve got our backs to the wall, like all recreational sports do,
because of the cost of fuel,” Wagner said. “We still have an
economy that seems to be upside down in many parts of the
country.

“From my own state, there are more people going this year than have
probably ever gone. The thing we look at, from an ATA ex-ecutive
committee standpoint, it’s kind of like when the circus comes to
town. You only do it once a year, so you want to do the best you
can.”

“The staff and the workload is becoming routine, some sort of
normalcy to it,” said Chris Hespen of the WSRC.

Like Wagner, Hespen was able to put the event in perspective.

“The Grand is like the World Series or the Super Bowl,” he said.
“Folks always try to find some discretionary money to go to
those.”

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