The Autumn Grand (Tucson) came and went, as did Thanksgiving. The weather in Tucson was spectacular, as usual, this time of year. Utah had fair representation, with about 17 shooters making the trek. It wasn't our best showing, but we did bring home a few trophies. Check the scores at shootscoreboard.com
The Western Zone Big 50 was held in Utah for the first time, at the Lee Kay Center. The shoot was hosted by Valley Clays. Thirteen shooters participated in Utah, and almost 75 shooters zone wide. I am hoping this event will gain traction and grow much larger, with more clubs in-volved. To find out more information on the Western Zone Big 50, see the "News" section on utahtrap.com.
With very little ATA action going on this month, other than plenty of turkey shoots, I thought I would take this time to do a write-up on the ATA home grounds in Sparta IL. While at Sparta last summer, the local newspaper (County Journal) did a spread on the home grounds located at the World Shooting Complex. I have taken the liberty to utilize much of the information they printed at the time.
The World Shooting Complex site is situated on 1,600 acres, it has 120 trap fields spread out along 31/2 miles. There are 1,000 camping spots, ample parking, and a large events center with a restaurant. There is a strip mall for vendors, grandstands for opening and closing ceremonies as well as shoot-offs.
For those of you who ever attended the Grand at Vandalia, OH, you will remember the wagons utilized for shuttling shooters about the grounds. Those shuttles were brought to Sparta with the same intent of moving shooters from one bank to the next. This was a very short-lived venture. There is so much available parking at Sparta, everyone can drive to and park at their designated shooting banks. Those shuttles are now used as shade and relaxation sites for shooters as well as trap help.
Speaking of trap help, most of all the temporary employees it takes to run the Grand come from many of the local communities in Randolph County. The bulk of them come from the high schools as well as Scott Air Force Base. Gary Ebers, the ATA personnel manager, hires any-where from 350-400 people each summer to help run the shoot. On the biggest days at the Grand, he needs 295 people just to score and load traps, plus 33 line supervisors and such, as well as 30 other employees. The pay is minimum wage, with a $75 bonus if they work the whole shoot.
It can be very hot in Sparta during the month of August, but the work is not real physical. Scor-ers will score for four squads and then take a break. Usually, one loader will work two houses. Each trap (Pat Traps) holds 540 targets and it takes about 10 minutes to load a house. As one can imagine, it is quite a daunting task to pull off a shoot of this magnitude.
While at the Grand, there are certainly other things to do besides shoot trap (heaven forbid). You can shop the strip mall, the tent vendors, or enjoy many of the places to eat, either at the events center or the outside vendors. A favorite of many, are the homemade ice cream shops behind banks 8 and 9. If you need a gunsmith, most all of the gun manufacturers have reps there, as well as many independent gunsmiths. The Trapshooters Hall of Fame is on the grounds, and worthy of at least one visit, if not more. It is also quite a sight to go to the shell house and marvel at how much ammo is for sale. While at the shell house, you could also visit the ATA store and buy a shirt or other memento. You could also visit the photo studio and have a commemorative photo taken (hopefully with a trophy).
If you need food and drink supplies for your motorhome/trailer, the Sparta Walmart is worth the visit. I guarantee that you will probably see a lot of people that you know while shopping there, almost as many as you recognize at the club. If you are a baseball fan, you can try to catch a Cardinals' game. St Louis is only about an hour away!
Finally, on a sad note, we lost two friends recently. First was Jason Holman of Goshen, UT. Ja-son was taken tragically in a mining accident in Elko Nevada. Second, was long time Uintah Ba-sin shooter, Gail Herrmann. Gail passed while residing in Oregon.