National Rifle Association President Charles Cotton traveled to the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta, Ill., earlier this month to attend the 124th Grand American World Trapshooting Championship, held August 2-12. Joining him on the trip was NRA Second Vice President David Coy, as well as NRA Board Member, Dr. Thomas Arvas, who is known as a longtime supporter of the Amateur Trapshooting Association and clay target shooting.
The NRA and the Amateur Trapshooting Association have worked together for many years in support of competitive shooting. This year at the Grand, NRA Membership had a large booth and display. Attendees that joined the NRA or renewed their memberships received two free boxes of Winchester AA shotshells. Additionally, the weekend of Saturday, August 5, and Sunday, August 6, featured the NRA-sponsored Singles two-day event.
Every year, shooters from all over the world attend the Grand American—the largest shooting event of its type on Earth. They compete for nearly two weeks of clay target shooting leading up to the Grand American Handicap Final. Many of them have spent thousands of dollars on highly customizable shotguns, along with gear designed specifically to stand up to the rigors of trapshooting.
After arriving at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex, Dr. Arvas took President Cotton and Second Vice President Coy on a tour of the extensive facilities, which boasts 121 trap fields spanning 3.5 miles and 1,000 on-site camping spaces. The group also made stops at vendor booths and visited with volunteers and staff in the NRA Booth.
During the opening ceremony the evening of Monday, August 7, President Cotton gave a short speech, and Second Vice President Coy accepted the NRA’s plaque for being a sponsor of the Grand American.
“It’s always so much fun to speak with folks who are like-minded when it comes to the Second Amendment and the shooting sports,” President Cotton said. “It is an honor to be here, and I want to say thank you to all the Grand American volunteers. I always say that if it were not for the volunteers, events like this could not be possible.”
In addition to President Cotton and his group, dignitaries at the 2023 Grand American opening ceremony included Illinois DNR officials, State Legislators, Officials from the County and City of Sparta, ATA Past Presidents, ATA Central Handicap Committee members, ATA Executive Committee members, ATA staff and Grand American sponsors.
On the morning of Tuesday, August 8, President Cotton, Second Vice President Coy and Dr. Arvas visited with the ATA’s Executive Committee. Following that meeting, they visited vendor booths again, subsequently making a detour to the ATA Trapshooting Hall of Fame and Museum to soak in some history.
To conclude NRA President Cotton’s visit to Sparta, he joined Dr. Arvas to observe some of the shooting.
Additionally, at the opening ceremony, two top ATA officials, President Ed Wehking and Executive Director Lynn Gipson, made remarks about how special the Grand American is as a competition.
“Throughout the year we work extremely hard to put on the Grand American. The Grand is the grandaddy of them all,” Wehking said. “Old friendships are going to be rekindled, and new ones will be made. I want everybody to play to win, but more importantly, play to have fun.”
Gipson spoke about how many competitors “dream of getting to the Grand each year. This is the banner event for southern Illinois.”
Learn more about the Amateur Trapshooting Association and the Grand American at shootata.com.