Sparta Illinois shooting facility empty
The idle trap fields at the "World Shooting and Recreation Center" in Sparta, IL. Image courtesy IL Department of Natural Resources (via Facebook).
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Actions have consequences. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker’s (political) science-based ChiCom flu restrictions precluded the Land of Lincoln from hosting The Grand American national trap shooting championships in Sparta, Illinois. So the Amateur Trap Association, acting rationally, has moved the massive event to Missouri where that state’s residents and governor are “ecstatic” to host everyone.

Built at a cost of about $50 million in the mid-2000s in actual construction costs plus infrastructure improvements, the Sparta facility was touted as the nicest shooting facility in the nation. The “World Shooting and Recreation Center” is nice, no doubt. It covers 1,600 acres, and has almost 750 campsites, 120 trap fields and a monstrous 34,000 square foot events center.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources built the Sparta shooting facility with an eye towards coaxing the Amateur Trapshooting Association to bring the tournament from Vandalia, Ohio to Sparta. The ATA needed a massive facility, but lacked the capital to build one. Illinois – with its huge budget surpluses – eagerly stepped into the gap.

The facility’s proponents claimed it would be a money-making venture for the state, to the tune of $50 million or more in economic development, annually.

Those predictions have shown themselves about as accurate as Seattle’s ammo tax projections. The facility hasn’t turned a profit since it was built, much less bringing in anywhere near $50 million annually to the state.  It has hemorrhaged cash each and every year.

Now, with the Grand American pulling out, Sparta will likely face closure under the gun-hating Governor Pritzker’s administration if the ATA likes what it sees in Missouri and doesn’t come back next year.  Supposedly the ATA and Illinois have a contract through 2026, but contracts can be broken. Clearly Illinois didn’t honor its end of the bargain this year.

The Center Square has the story:

The Grand American, the largest trapshooting event in the world, is leaving Illinois and heading to Missouri this year.

The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Department of Natural Resources ruled that the annual event cannot take place near Sparta because of COVID-19 health concerns. Restrictions regarding the size of public gatherings under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan left organizers scrambling.

“The health and safety of participants who would attend, as well as spectators and staff, must remain top-of-mind,” Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Colleen Callahan said.

In anticipation of the decision, the Amateur Trapshooting Association had determined if the event could not be held near Sparta, Illinois, it would be relocated to Linn Creek, Missouri, in Lake of the Ozarks.

Nice job, Governor Pritzker. You’re quite the leader.

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  1. Maybe they can use their expensive facility to host a political protest. I hear chinese viruses are highly woke and will refuse to infect those who are “outraged” by racial injustice.

    • It was already losing money hand over fist. The place is an hour out of St Louis. Why would anyone want to go there is beyond me.

  2. I’ve been making a list of states to which I might retire. Missouri is on the list. Have never been there, but gun-friendly, and lots of rural space. This city boy is ready for an old farmhouse (no developments, no building new). I’ve restored, two beaten up homes; I do good work. Don’t need anything fancy….just space, good neighbors, and the freedom upon which this country was built.

    Lots of responsibilities….family health issues….not sure I will ever move…but Missouri, Wyoming, Utah…on the list.

    • I’ve got an aunt in Birch Tree, MO.
      I think about that area often. But dang it, I like fresh sea food…

      • Yeah, it’s tough to leave real, fresh seafood. The sushi here in SoCal (particularly along the well-supplied coast and L.A. suburban outskirts) is often superb. I visited a friend in OK a few years ago and was invited to partake in what I was told was the area’s finest sushi.

        Bald white guy at the door with a German-ish accent. White Starbux-ish vegan-esque waiter. Latino cooks. The “tempura” shrimp was like breaded Gordon’s fish sticks. Horrible.

      • Missouri does catfish and bass really, really well….and deer, and turkey, and rabbit, and squirrel, and quail, and a touch of pheasant….and guns…did I mention guns.

    • Missouri tops my “retire to” states as well, Arkansas, Kentucky, West virginia, hell i’ll consider Ohio and Wisconsin if the price is right.

  3. Way to go Prickster…we’re hoping to “relocate” out of ILLinoyed next year when the missus gets her gubmint check. Only to Indiana. Not that I have anything against Missouri!

    • FWW,

      I have driven the length and breadth of Indiana. Cornfields that go on forever, punctuated by Wallmarts and Home Depots. The rural areas are much to be admired.

      I hope your migration goes well and wish you both all happiness.

    • Indiana, ick. Go to Wisconsin if you really need to stay in the Midwest. If not, Carolinas or Arizona would be next on my list. Or the Rockies.

  4. A number of my team members live in Illinois, specifically, in and around Chicago. When I ask them why they stay, they all describe family ties. None of them ever say: “I like it here”.

    I’ve spent a lot of time in Chicago, at least 20-24 trips of 2-5 days. Unless compelled by the exigencies of business, I will not set foot in Chicago ever again.

    • They’re right. The only reason we stay is family. Close friends stay for the same reason. After all this business shutdown we KNOW taxes will go up to cover the loss of tax revenue. Clearly Illinois doesn’t care. They’re giving up revenue from the Trap Assoc. This is an outdoor event…mostly.
      Maybe, if all the contestants hold protest signs hating the police, the state will welcome the Trap Assoc event. Evidently the Covid-19 doesn’t affect protesters. The “health professionals” on TV said that exercizing their 1st ammendment rights is more important than sheltering-in.

  5. Im sure Pritzker has done nothing to ensure social distancing at chitcago’s trap houses. Sir, could you please sling that crack from at least 6 feet!
    I guess he’s only picking on the amateur’s, not the professionals.

  6. They should have built a few dozen basic, practical ranges usable in wide geographic areas of the state instead of this boondoggle.

  7. It would be really helpful if this article gave specifics such as where in Missouri and when will the event take place.

    • Osage Beach, Mo (Lake of the Ozarks area) . First week in August.

      FYI: Even though our State government defines stupidity, hypocrisy and irresponsibility, southern Illinois is beautiful. Sparta IL is an hour from StL. But that’s far enough away to not be effected. We (Illinois residents) are not all Chicago/ East StL. But pray for us… we do suffer at the hand of Chicago – though I’m closer to 5 other state than stupid Chicago.

  8. Lived in 4 states. In Missouri for over 45 years. Good hunting, fishing, Constitutional Carry, relatively low taxes, nice people. Stay 50 miles from St. Louis and Kansas City. Come on in.

    • Wish I could figure how trap works. I get a kick from skeet these past 60 years, never figured out the game of trap.

  9. ” Illinois – with its huge budget surpluses – eagerly stepped into the gap.”

    Lol. I see what you did there.


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