Keeping cool in the Grand American trapshooting competition

By Arnold Wyrick - bio | email

SPARTA, IL (KFVS) - The Amateur Trapshooting Association's Grand American is growing stronger each and every year.

This marks the fifth year the Grand American has been held in Sparta. And the 111th year for the competition.

The weather could top 100 degrees too.

"We've been talking about that, the first two years we were here it was in the hundreds," said Frank Rively executive director for the ATA.

"We still conducted the competition. Some people did complain. We do have some cooling fans and there are vendors with cooling packs you can wrap around your neck. And there are hats with fans installed in them."

The shooters come from all across the nation and around the world, for the 12 days of competition.

"The economic impact is somewhere between $15 and $20 million," Rively said.

"We will see in excess of 20,000 people brought into our area," said Mayor Rob Link of Sparta.

"Our restaurants, our motels and the retail shops can really make it this month."

But, beyond going for some of the trophies, some competitors are already planning on how to stay cool on and off the firing line.

"It's always nice and hot. I've got a trailer with air-conditioning and my Kobota is air-conditioned that I travel in back and forth from the firing line. That's about all you can do," said Frank Wood of Oak Park, Michigan.

"It's pretty darn hot out there shooting. You've got to carry a lot of water out there and try to keep cool as best you can," said Ralph Jonesworth of Kersey, Pennsylvania.

Along with bragging rights and a lot of recognition, getting to wear the champions ring is what draws many shooters to the competition.

"I won the Grand American Handicap in 1980, I'm trying to do it for the second time. Nobody has ever won it twice," said Bill Hazlett of Sauver, Pennsylvania.

This year there's a little added bonus for the top shooters.

"Starting on Tuesday there will be nine qualifiers and one random shooter at the end that we're going to pull from a hat. They're all going to go head to head for a winner take all purse of $100,000," said Rively.

The Grand American runs through August 14, at the World Shooting and Recreation Complex in Sparta.

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