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Personal observations from a Sparta visit

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by pyrdek, Aug 14, 2010.

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  1. pyrdek

    pyrdek Well-Known Member

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    I finally had a chance to get to Sparta to see the facilities. I will post a few of my thoughts.

    Coming in from the St. Louis side, MORE SIGNS ARE NEEDED to show where the WSRC is located! I Saw a grand total of ONE SIGN and it was just slightly larger than a license plate. It was on the county road that comes along the shot fall zone. If it had not been for the GPS coordinates, I don't think I would have found it at all! Using the street address resulted in "No Such Location Found". The Hrs/Min/Sec entry (from the WSRC website) was the only way to find the WSRC. I did not notice any directional signs when I was leaving on my easterly departure either but then I was driving away from the grounds.

    Once I got there, it seemed like half the golf cart/Gator/etc. drivers mistook the WSRC for the Indianapolis Speedway. I was damn near hit by more than a few of those carts being driven by idiots. There were also a number of courteous drivers but the idiots made it look bad for all golf carters.

    I came on Thursday afternoon just in time to watch the fireworks show put on by Mother Nature. Her lighting show closed down the place for quite a while. Finally, just about the time I had to leave, they resumed shooting. I did get one round in on the practice traps. They were in the process of closing those but a nice gentleman kept at least one open long enough to let me shoot some 16s.

    Winchester closed awful early. They were not open at all when I was there. Most of the other permanent building displayers remained opened. The Remington gunsmiths were open and were most helpful with a problem I had with one shotgun. Kudos to Remington.

    It seemed that most of the tent displayers pulled there stuff. I figure this was because of the BAD storm.

    Only Remington had commemorative stampings on their ammo. Wincheter was only available by joining the NRA. Since I was already an Endowment member, I passed on that.

    The events building looked nice. I think it was more attractive than the CEB at Vancdalia. I have to give the nod to the helpfulness of the Vandalia people manning the various things in the CEB compared to the Illinois Events personnel. The Ohioans emmed more friendly and willing to help. I got the feeling that the Illinois folk thought it was an imposition on them to help.

    The Silent Auction was kind of stuck in the back corner rooms alomst as an afterthought.

    The Awards room, being a part of the Event center main room was an improvemnt over Vandalia. At least you could see what you weren't going to win (for most of us).

    The firing lines, east and west were long and spread out. Although it provided parking near the traps, I still like the old Vandalia locations. Between the closer traps and the shuttles, it provided a better opportunity to mingle with fellow shooters from all over the world. Illinois seemed to me to be more of a "production" line environment where Vandy was a more jovial club atmo0sphere.

    Food prices, adjusted for inflation, seemed to match up well with the Vandy prices but by the time I was looking for an eatery, most of the places were closed.

    My wife missed the non-shooting related merchants. She liked the jewelry, clothing, and art works displays which seemed to be missing from Illinois.

    There was also a lack of nearby non-shooting activities for the wife to attend. Things like Zoos, Malls, horseback riding, and other entertainment, were not to be found within a reasonable distance.

    The lack of nearby motel housing, in my case, was a big problem. On exiting, we drove the easterly route home and went right past the Mid-America airport. Its one motel (at least that was all I saw) was a bit far to drive to get to the shoot. When Sparta was selected, I seemed to recall talk of many motels springing up around this airport. The lack of four lane highways near the shoot poses a problem. A large, SLOOOOOOW truck and a pouring rain, made for some darn slow travel getting to the WSRC.

    More paper towels in the men's room dispenser in the event center would be a plus.

    There seemed to be a bit of confusion about what was going to be happening following the weather delays. The information I could hear from the PA system did not seem to be timely or very informative.

    If all the campers parked in the spaces behind the line were trap shooters, there seemed to be a lot more RVs used in Illinois. I credit this to improved RV parking and a lack of motel space nearby.

    My final impression is that the WSRC is a fine venue for those solely interested in shooting. It lacks the friendly more club-like atmosphere that was Vandalia. For someone going simply to shoot the targets, and maybe attend the meetings (which didn't seem to attract many people), it would be a fine facility. It still has some development to go before it becomes a total family vacation experience location. Given the surrounding territory, it may take a long time, if it ever happens, to make it a total family vacation location. (I don't want to start a war but the Cardinal Center looks like it will be my family vacation with competitive trap shooting location for the next few years.)

    Just to answer the questions that someone is sure to raise, No, I did not enter any events. My ATA membership has expired and I did not renew because of a total lack of time to any where near enough ATA shoots to make it worth while. I did incorporate this visit to Sparta as part of the return from a family vacation out west. I wanted to see for myself just what Sparta had and had to offer. I had made all the Vandy Grands for the last 10 or 12 years before the move to Illinois. I also included a visit to the Cardinal Center as part of this same return trip.
     
  2. hunter44

    hunter44 Well-Known Member

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    Isn't it a GREAT facility? Glad you liked it!
     
  3. stokinpls

    stokinpls Well-Known Member

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    "More paper towels in the men's room dispenser in the event center would be a plus."

    This one is my fave. Reminded me of the communal urinals (lined with shot up but "intact" Remington targets) at the old place.
     
  4. grntitan

    grntitan Well-Known Member

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    I'm really biting my lip not to comment but its hard. People find some amazingly hilarious things to nit-pic at. Maybe next year we can have someone in the restrooms to personally dry everyones hands and maybe even a spritz of cologne.
     
  5. Bridger

    Bridger Member

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    I don't know what people expect but I have attended for three successive years, never had a problem finding the place or anything else to complain about. I love it and hope to go again next year.
     
  6. Hill topper

    Hill topper Member

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    I know this will come as a big surprise, but the Cardinal Center will require you to join the ATA to shoot registered targets at their faculity.

    ed.
     
  7. markdenis

    markdenis TS Member

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    Prydek

    Good honest opinion shared by many.

    Mark Rounds
     
  8. pyrdek

    pyrdek Well-Known Member

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    Hilltopper,

    Since I would be attending a competitive shoot, I do know that ATA membership is needed. That is why, if my schedule allows attending at least five or six local or area shoots, I will be rejoining. In the past three years I would only have been able to attend one ATA shoot in a year anywhere near me because of a loaded personal schedule and limited local or area shoots. Prior years I could make the WV stste, the grand (in Ohio), the first year at the Cardinal (when it was still under construction), the Eastern Zone or the PA State (not all in the same year. That changed because of job and family responsibilities.

    Even this year, I had to finagle my schedule to allow a quicky visit to the WSRC. With any luck, that schedule load will reduce so I can have a bit more time next summer. Had the ATA offered the "Grace Period" membership, I probably would have joined even if the thunderstorm would have eliminated a chance to actually shoot in the Thursday handicap.

    Others,

    The lack of towels was mentioned because the note on the door apologized for the lack of towels and said they ran out. This indicates to me that someone did not plan adequately for the number of people attending. Fortunately, the remainder of the planning seemed to cover the number of people attending, at least as far as I could tell.
     
  9. grntitan

    grntitan Well-Known Member

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    You could have re-newed your membership right at the Events Center at Sparta and it would have taken all of 2 minutes or less. One quick swipe of your membership card in the Cashier lines(usually not much wait at all) and hit the membership re-newal choice paid the nice lady and boom you would have been done.

    I found it hard to decide what your actual opinion of thw WSRC/Grand was. Based on the statements you made, you basiclly picked the damn place apart and wasn't there long enough to even re-new your membership. So you didn't have the minimum required targets. You could have shot penalty class and formed your opinion from a shooters standpoint. I have fun shooting win or loose. I accept that everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and opinion but in all fairness did you give it much of a chance? Is Sparta perfect, hell no. Will Sparta ever be perfect, Hell no. Do the fine people of the IDNR and ATA try and make the Grand in Sparta perfect, i think so. It takes time to find the faults and fix them. How long was it that Vandalia had to get their act together?? Was it perfect the last year in Ohio? I sincerly hope that in the future you can join us at the Grand in Sparta again and shoot some events. Thanks for your entitled opinion.
     
  10. romie

    romie Active Member

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    Other than my shooting it was perfet for me and I will be back.It has a lot going on to run flawless.
     
  11. Barry

    Barry Member

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    I think this post by pyrdek is excellent. I agree 100% and is exactly why I have little desire to travel to Sparta after having been to 15 grands in Vandalia.

    For those of us that don't camp on the grounds the convenience of nearby motels and restaurants is a major factor and the biggest problem in Sparta. Entertaining a non-shooting family is not easy around Sparta. Combine long travel times to and from where you do end up staying and driving confusing less than fast moving roads is the icing on the cake. Plus the fact that it's often over 100 outside makes Sparta a poor place for me to expect to be fun.

    W/ so many satellite grands to choose from that are in great places & at great times of the year, I'll spend my money there...where it is fun!
     
  12. BigM-Perazzi

    BigM-Perazzi Well-Known Member

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    Just got back to Michigan from Sparta, surprising how easy that 9 hour 530 mile trip was with two people sharing the driving... left at Noon EST. Looking forward to doing it again next year. I just used the air dryer when the paper ran out..

    Jim Chapman

    Hell, Michigan

    An ATA member...
     
  13. slugbug1

    slugbug1 Member

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    The trap kids, (and adults), were pretty knowledgeable about the scoring rules and were a very friendly bunch. Dispite the heat they always said hi how ya doing and most had a smile on their faces. Nice to see so many good kids in one place. GaryL.
     
  14. pyrdek

    pyrdek Well-Known Member

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    grntitan,

    You seem like you want to pick a fight where no fight is intended.

    I did stop at the Shooters Service counter. That is where part of my observation about the Illinois attitude of service was formed. After standing there for a couple of minutes, waiting for the two women behind the counter to finish their personal conversation, not related to trapshooting, the Grand or anything similar by the way, I finally felt like they really didn't want to be bothered. That is not the way to "win friends and influence people". I don't know how long it might have taken to get my questions answered.

    They might have been able to take my membership for the coming year, or maybe not. I will never know since they couldn't be bothered to answer my questions.

    I also did not "pick the place apart". I did point out what I saw as its positive points. I also pointed out where I felt some improvements could be made. Anyone who thinks that any and all criticism is an attack will have problems attracting and keeping customers. This is what your post seems to present as your position, any criticism is an attack. If you only want to see the good, as you perceive it, and bash those who may offer some suggestions or valid criticism, fine. Just don't expect anything to change if those in a position to make changes don't get a perspective from those outside their circle of contacts.

    For instance, the direction signs are one thing that could be significantly improved by Illinois. If you want to draw in new people, you have to make it easy for them to find you. The old adage about keeping your light under a bushel comes to mind. The WSRC offers a great opportunity to draw in new shooters who may be passing through but that only is true if they can find the place. A few signs on the major roads in the area might help draw in new people and aid those who already know about the place but have never been there and don't have access to the WSRC website to get the coordinates for their GPS.

    Like I said, the WSRC looks to be a fine place to go to shoot ATA targets if you have a RV with air conditioning. If you figure on moteling it, like many non-rv owners, you might have a bit more transportation difficulties finding a motel, restaurants etc. If you figure on taking the non-shooting family along, it doesn't offer, at least in my case, what they want. If you enjoy the place as it is, fine. It serves your needs and wants just the way you like it. That is the best reason to keep returning. Unfortunately, it doesn't serve my wants and needs as they are presently.

    What is your thoughts about the golf carts? Do you see any problem with some of those drivers? or are they all perfect?

    As for joining just to shoot 100 hundred targets and paying an additional $20.00 above the targets ammo and fees cost, to do so and have the membership effectively expire on the next day or two, with no vaguely realistic chance of winning, and then having to wait out a lighting storm with no assurance that a chance to actually shoot would be coming that night, well, you may have that kind of money. I don't. If that upsets you, tough. Live with it.

    Like I said, the gentleman running the practice field was very accommodating and friendly. The same friendliness was evident in the Practice Ticket sales booth. Not all Illinoians, if that is where they actually were from, are a problem but some others sure are.

    Big-M,

    At the time I pulled into Sparta, I had completed just under 4800 miles of driving in the three weeks. I was a solo driver, No relief driver. After leaving the WSRC, I put on another 700 miles enroute home. That was over two days. I can drive the distance but I also want to be alert and not be beat to a pulp by the time I get there. Again, if you don't like my answer, tough. Live with it.
     
  15. grntitan

    grntitan Well-Known Member

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    Wow, little edgy ehh? I had no intention of starting an arguement nor do i want to now. I simply stated my right to an opinion of yours. I thanked you for your opinion and meant it. Don't assume all people working at the Grand are from Sparta or even Illinois. I agree that whomever was working the counter should be more buisness savy when approached and save personal conversation for other times. I personally have never had any issues with the employees whether they were from Ohio, Sparta or anywhere. Maybe i'm just easy to get along with and patient. The golf cart issue we see eye-2-eye 100%. I think its at times out of control by both the workers and shooters. Its not everyone on the carts/Gators and for the most part i think most are responsable users. I personally think they need more rules and/or control over the cart users. You think the Grand was bad, you should have been there 3 weeks ago when the SCTP National Trap Championship was there. Can you say a bunch of out of control kids on carts. I think the kids on them are an accident waiting to happen. I know how i was when i was a kid and given the vehicle and pedestrian traffic there needs to be more control before something tragic happens. You do need to realize that the WSRC is still in its infancy realitively speaking. Your opinions and comments are important as well as others to find and address the flaws. Am i protective of the Complex, you bet. I defend both the shooting sports and the WSRC openly. I have more respect for you that attended the Complex and gave your honest opinion than those that stay at home and judge without ever stepping foot there. I actually despise those that won't attend out of spite. I doubt that i changed your opinion on either me or the WSRC but i honestly hope that you will come back to Sparta and shoot the Grand someday. Hopefully if you make it back things will have progressed for the better and your opinion will change. Respectfully--Matt Parker ATA#06 16870
     
  16. Mr. Charles

    Mr. Charles Member

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    grntitan,

    Send me a PM with your phone #. Have tried to contact you with no success.

    MC
     
  17. rodbuster

    rodbuster TS Member

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    Thank you for your good posts pyrdek. I thought they were very informative. I have a feeling that there is not going to be much change in the road, lodging or other departments. Things seem to move slowly in Illinois when it comes to improvements. It is too bad they haven't done more yet. There should be more signs for the facility also, it seems hard to believe that things are so bad in the state that this situation couldn't be improved. I don't think that you "picked the place apart", quite the contrary, your personal observations seemed to be very fair and balanced. I am glad you made it home OK.

    Have a good evening, Rodbuster.
     
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