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Grand American finds a home (Article)

Discussion in 'Uncategorized Threads' started by Joe Potosky, Aug 1, 2008.

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  1. Joe Potosky

    Joe Potosky Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Grand American finds a home

    By Les Winkeler, The Southern

    The Amateur Trapshooting Association's Grand American is slowly making a home for itself at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta.

    The 2008 Grand American, the 108th version of the event, officially gets under way Wednesday. Actual shooting begins Monday with the Scholastic Clay Target Program. The combination SCTP and Grand American runs Monday through Aug. 16.

    The actual Grand American championship is scheduled for Aug. 15. In addition, three shooters will be inducted into the ATA Hall of Fame Aug. 12.

    After calling Vandalia, Ohio, home for 75 years, the Grand American moved to Sparta in 2006. The initial resistance to the move seems to be ancient history.

    For one thing, the WSRC wasn't completed when it hosted its first Grand. There was little to no grass in the campgrounds, the ranges lacked shelter from the sun and the sporting clays ranges were still under construction.

    "Yeah, it's definitely starting to get more of that homey feel to it," said Nick Aycock, a member of the ATA's marketing team. "That's definitely a big factor.

    "Another thing, shooters at first who were more hesitant, are hearing from their friends that the place is great. Word of mouth is getting around. People who might have been hesitant to make the journey are now willing to."

    Shooters and participants will see a more mature facility this year.

    "The boat ramps are finished and in place," said Chris Hespen, the IDNR's trap, skeet and archery manager. "We've worked on the grounds. The grasses are thicker. There has been some re-seeding.

    "The sporting clays fields have all been re-seeded. We've added permanent benches and shooting stations."

    Shade on the wide open trap lines has been an issue the first two years. Hespen said shade shelters have been constructed to provide refuge from the sun.

    In addition, the WSRC campgrounds provide much more room than the Vandalia facility.

    "People are getting acclimated to the facility," Hespen said. "They seem to be very happy and content to be able to open up their awnings and doors in the campground. They like to be able to get in their own vehicles and drive to the shooting line as opposed to getting on a tram."

    The WSRC hasn't seemed crowded in the first two years despite the fact that 100,000 shooters and spectators are expected. Last year's event drew 36,633 competitors.

    "Last year we were probably up from the previous year," Aycock said. "Since we've been to Sparta it's actually increased with the total entries. We're starting to get back to where we had held steady in Vandalia at about the 39,000 mark."

    Aycock dismissed speculation that numbers would be down significantly due to higher gas prices.

    "There might be a slight decline in attendance," he said. "We really hope not. It is a concern, but not a major concern."

    Although the National Shooting Sports Foundation's SCTP is not officially part of the Grand, the two have merged seamlessly. This year's SCTP competition will include the NSSF's sporting clays and skeet competition as well.

    "We're looking at a turnout of more than 2,100 participants compared to right about 1,600 for trap last year," said Zach Snow, senior shooting promotions coordinator for the NSSF. "Our numbers in sporting clays almost doubled in participation. It's exciting to see for the industry and the future of the sport."

    "Without them, there is no future of trapshooting," Aycock said. "We're absolutely pleased to have them out there.

    "Their event is separate, but it does have that Grand American feel. A lot of those kids carry over and shoot in the actual event."
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