The Grand dates are Definately the 3rd to the 13th of August in Sparta. You can also Definately plan that the first week is Prelim Events and the second week is Grand week. Not trying to sound like a smart ass just giving you something you can plan by. As for your question on when the actual program is out, i don't know. The dates i gave came from an email i personally received from the ATA this week.
Rich--Prelim week is usually 100 Singles, 100 caps and 100 doubles each day til Saturday. Then the Prelims end with the singles Championship starting Saturday with 100 Saturday and 100 Sunday. Grand week has somedays with 100 singles, 100 caps and 100 doubles and some days with 200 singles. There are also special events during Grand week where only State and Zone winners may shoot. This is when i do most of my shopping. LOL
For me yes. I guess it depends on your skill level and wants and needs. I try and shoot the whole Prelim week and a event or two Grand week. Its just down the road for me though. Most people who cannot stay the entire Grand pick one or the other. I'm always shooting to win but i'm no comp for the Grand week shooters. Its just fun to say i competed with the best. Remember, anybody can win the GAH with a good day. The winner this last year was the lone 100 and it happened to be his first. How cool is that?
I like shooting the 1st week. I can shoot singles and 'caps one day, then possibly 'caps and doubles the next...I like to mix it up a bit and since the crowds are smaller the days don't get so long like Grand week itself. That's fun too, and obviously if you're shooting good that's the time to be there!
Basically Grand week is the "Championship" week. I'm not real good on the history of the Grand. There is probably a neat story on why its called Grand week. There is alot of History and Tradition with the Grand and its events. The Prelims are like any other tourney and its prelim events. Don't get me wrong though, there are plenty of trophy's and money to be won during Prelims. The trophy's do get better and more prestigious on Grand week.
The differences between Preliminary Week and Grand Week are:
1) More all American Points during Grand Week than during Preliminary Week.
2) All the important Championship events are during Grand Week.
3) The $200,000 Lewis Challenge is during Grand Week (The $100,000 Handicap Challenge spans the Preliminary and Grand weeks).
4) Grand Week consists of 1,000 targets. Preliminary Week consists of 1,300 targets.
5) There are no 100 target singles events during Grand Week; there are 2 200-target singles events. Preliminary Week has 3 100 target singles events and one 200-target event (although lately it has been shot over two days (100 targets each day))
Last year there was an additional doubles event thrown on Thursday of Grand Week, but it wasn't included in the Grand Week High Over All. So technically there were 1,100 targets thrown during Grand Week. I'm not sure if the additional doubles event will be part of the 2011 Grand, but I expect it will be.