The Grand American Last Stand in Ohio

By Larry S. Moore

The final Grand American Trapshoot was held last week in Vandalia, Ohio. The expansion of the Dayton International Airport is the usual reason given for the event being forced out of Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA) home grounds. The ATA will maintain offices and the Hall of Fame building in Vandalia.

The Grand American was brought to Dayton to have a permanent home in 1924 by prominent civic and business leaders such as Charles Patterson (NCR Corp) and Charles Kettering (Delco). Following the devastating 1913 flood in Dayton, Patterson arranged to have the Grand held at the NCR shooting grounds to showcase the recovery of Dayton to the world.

My how things have changed between 1924 and the 1990s when the Dayton Airport expansion began threatening the grounds. Unlike civic leaders of the past, today’s leaders and politicians either encouraged the take over of the grounds or at best ignored the situation. Then Ohio Governor George Voinovich and Lt. Gov. Mike DeWine did virtually nothing to respond to the ATA request for proposals during a search for a new home for the ATA and the Grand American. The few proposals that Ohio did put forth were late in the process and, quite frankly, did not match the requirements specified by the ATA. One cannot blame outsourcing, contract disputes, NAFTA or Washington DC for this. We only have to look to the anti-gun leadership of the City of Dayton and to the attitudes of George Voinovich and Mike DeWine.

This is no small shooting event. The Grand American, in normal years, attracts between 4500 and 5000 shooters. It is the world championships of trap shooting. Teams and individuals travel from Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Canada, and all points between to compete here. It was truly an international event in Ohio. The Grand American Trap Shoot is normally listed as the third largest participant sporting event behind the New York and Boston marathons.

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The University of Dayton Research Institute performed a study and determined the local impact to the economy is between $12 to $15 million dollars annually. That happens over a two-week period in August. At a time when Ohio communities, businesses and governments need the money and taxes, Ohio’s leaders stood by and let a major business leave. It is easy to determine the tax revenue loss for the area.

A short list of comparisons might put this into better perspective. Imagine a summer without the National Rifle and Pistol Championships at Camp Perry. How about the first Saturday of May without the Kentucky Derby being held at Churchill Downs, or the Indianapolis 500 not being in Indianapolis in May? It is a tragedy of epic proportions.

The new home for the Grand American will be the World Shooting Complex in Sparta Illinois. The community of Sparta and Randolph County Illinois made superb presentations and rolled out the red carpet to win the bid for the Grand American. They beat out serious locations in Texas, Missouri, and even Las Vegas.

This is even more mind-boggling than the Grand American being forced out of Vandalia. How in the world could the ATA pick one of the most anti-gun states in the union to host the world’s largest trapshooting tournament and world championship? Even the NRA is backing the development of the Sparta facility. Cowboy Action Shoots have already been held at the facility. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is pouring a ton of money into the development. Granted southern Illinois welcomes the shooters but the Illinois legislature and Governor remain extremely anti-gun.

The silver lining in this mess may be the relocation of the Ohio State Trap Shoot to just north of Columbus at I-71 and SR 61. This facility will have new trap equipment, spacious camping, and position the Ohio shoot to grow. I am certainly not going to spend my shooting money in anti-gun Illinois. I will stay closer to home and shoot more events at the Ohio State Shoot. Many Ohio shooters seem to share this view.

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