Veteran Trapshooter Kay Ohye Captures 2006 Grand American
by Larry S. Sterett
For nearly the first two decades of its existence the organization which became the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA) held its trapshooting championships at various locations around the United States, including in Illinois. Then it settled in just off National Road in Vandalia, OH, on land leased from the Dayton International Airport. Due to a need for expansion, Dayton International requested the ATA to move, and in 2006, after more than eight decades in Vandalia, OH, the ATA moved the Grand American back to Illinois. (The 10 acres on which the ATA Museum stands in Vandalia, is still being leased.)
Held Aug. 8-18, at the state-owned World Shooting & Recreational Complex (WSRC) north of Sparta, IL, the 2006 Grand American Trapshooting Championships is now in the history books. As with any first-time event, there were a few glitches, but by and large, the majority of shooters were pleased, especially Kay Ohye of New Brunswick, NJ. Ohye, a championship shooter, captain of the Veteran All-American First Team, and Hall of Fame enshrinee (1995), won the Grand American Handicap (GAH), breaking 99 birds in the open competition and a straight 25 in the shoot-off with 11 other shooters.
“There’s a lot of pressure there,” quipped Ohye. “You just have to keep your mind on what you’re supposed to do.... All I wanted to do was break the targets.... It won’t sink in for a day or so. I’ll celebrate with my friends and my daughter (Deborah). This is the ultimate win. I’ve won all the other championships. I never thought I’d get the opportunity to win it (GAH). It’s hard to win. It’s the biggest event in the world. It doesn’t get any bigger than this.”
Deborah Ohye Neilson is a trapshooting champion in her own right, and a Hall of Fame enshrinee (2005). She was also the captain of the Women’s All-American First Team. It would really have been an ultimate win if she had been the Lady Winner in the 2006 Grand American Handicap. She was the Lady Winner in the All-Around Championship of American with 388/400 birds, and the White Flyer 2200 Championships with 2,115/2,200 birds. She was also the Women Clay Target champion two years running in 2001 and 2002, breaking 200/200 both years.
Overall, according to most shooters interviewed, and wives, the 2006 Grand American was just that, “Grand.” They liked the space and the camping facilities. Those shooters who did not camp, and only were there for a day or two, were not quite as happy. “There’s not a decent place to stay, at a reasonable price, within an hours drive, and the choice of places to eat in the evening is limited.”
At least one new motel in Sparta is under construction, and a two-story school was being converted to become a multi-unit motel. There are a number of “bed and breakfast” units in the area, and no doubt there will be more in the future, but these are usually more expensive than regular motels with “comp” breakfasts (unless they jack up the prices).
On the WSRC grounds there’s a sit-down restaurant within the Events Center, along with a snack bar. There were a few hot dog, etc. vendors behind the trap line, but steak sandwiches, hamburgers, etc. did not seem available to the extent they were in Vandalia. (One food vendor, open for breakfast, etc., set up across the road from the WSRC, and in sight of the shooters.)
Within a 75-mile radius of Sparta, there are well over 100 motels in which to stay, and more than three dozen B&Bs. What the price range is per night isn’t known, nor how the prices compare with those in the Vandalia/Dayton area. The information booth at the Grand did have available a booklet of places to stay, eat, and visit. Even the daily newspapers usually include a supplement listing places to eat, visit, etc. For those planning on attending the 2007 Grand, and not intending to camp, make your arrangements early.
The first person to win an event at the inaugural Grand American Trapshooting Championships in Sparta was Richard Marshall Jr., from Lincoln, NE. Marshall broke 100 straight in Event No. 1, the Danny Ryan Singles, on Aug. 8. He also won the Preliminary High-Over-All trophy in his class after breaking 1,178 targets out of the preliminary 1,200 thrown. (Duncanville, TX, Wheelchair Shooter, James H. Foster, won his class in the Prelim High-Over-All by breaking 1,110 targets. Foster was a whirlwind at the 2006 Grand, winning his class in Events 1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 12, 15, 17, and 19, plus 21, the High-Over-All Champion of America, and 23, the White Flyer 2200 Championship. His scores were 96, 97, 94, 89, 199, 93, 200, 93, 95, 946/1,000, and 2,056/2,200, respectively.)
In Event 2, Randolph R. Ross, of Carlisle, KY, took the Champion spot with 96 broken birds, while Paul Shaw, from north of the border in Collingwood, ON, broke 100 targets to win Event 3, the Harlan Campbell Jr. Singles. Shaw also won Events 5, Deborah Ann Ohye Singles, and 3, NRA Singles, by breaking 100 and 200 White Flyers, respectively. Campbell, hailing from Tribune, KS, won Events 7, Patrick McCarthy Doubles, 11, WSRC Doubles, and Class AAA in 13, the Trap & Field Doubles Class Championship, with scores of 100, 100, and 100, respectively. (Bernadine Sheppard of Crofton, MD, won the Lady Shooter Championship in Event 13 with 98 busted birds.)
On Aug. 14, the annual Hall of Fame Induction Banquet was held at the Lion’s Club in Sparta, with a reception and hors d’oeuvres at 6:30 p.m., followed by the banquet at 7:15 p.m. (Tickets had to be ordered from the Trapshooting Hall of Fame, 601 W. National Rd., Vandalia, OH 05377, and were not available at the Grand in Sparta. If anyone ordered so late the tickets had not arrived in the mail by Banquet time, tough cookies.)
Four deceased and one living (Phil Kiner of Cheyenne, WY) inductees were enshrined at the 2006 ceremony. All five have contributed to the advancement of trapshooting in the US and around the world. The late Ruby Jenner of Clintonville, WI, began her shooting career in 1961, after being introduced to the sport by her husband, Ray. Among her notable wins were: the Lady Champion at the 1965 and 1968 Preliminary Handicaps; 1966 Lady Champion of Dayton Homecoming event; Lady Clay Target Champion in the 1969; Wisconsin Hall of Fame inductee in 1977, and the National Championships of Australia and New Zealand in 1972. In addition to her many trophies at the Grand American, she had captured many at the Florida, Indiana and Ohio, shoots and was the third woman in ATA history to make it to the 27-yard, earning it on July 21, 1972, at Waukesha, WI. She, and son Rick won their respective categories (Lady and Sub-Junior) championships in the 1971 Clay Target Championship, and both earned captain’s spots on the All-American team for 1971.
Kiner started his trapshooting career while attending the University of Wyoming in 1972. (He won Event 6, the Merchant Appreciation Handicap, at the 2006 Grand after breaking 98 targets.) His start could have been called a fluke, since on the basis of his quail hunting ability he was asked to fill in for a University Trap Team member who had cancelled out. He went to the scheduled meet and used a borrowed Remington M870. “I wasn’t going to get into shooting full time, and that was going to be my first and last shoot.” Maybe ... but after he had been awarded two trophies and the UofW squad had won the top honors, Kiner had caught the bug. Three plus decades after that beginning, Kiner has more than 40 Grand American trophies, including one for fifth in the Grand American Handicap in 1990. Since 1974 he has garnered some 40 Wyoming state titles, and is one of only two people to have a perfect score on a program’s 400 championship targets (200 singles, 100 handicap, and 100 doubles), the only shooter to have done it twice (1994 and 2005). He is the only shooter in ATA history to have won the resident All-Around Championship with 400; at the same time he won the High Over-All Championship with 995/1,000, an ATA record.
Troy, OH, brothers Robert and Roger Clyne perfected and patented (1947) the first electrically powered cocking and releasing mechanism for successfully throwing clay targets. They had a small machine shop in Troy, coupled with operation of the Camp Troy Gun Club, where they first tried their invention. It worked. The mechanism could be, with a minimum of expense, installed on current traps, and in 1948 was first used at the Grand American, and in 2006 earned the brothers a place in the Trapshooting Hall of Fame.
The Clyne Puller changed trapshooting, and eventually became used throughout North America, South America, and Europe, replacing the hand-pulled trap then in use. (Depending on the physical strength and attentiveness of the puller, the target release could be anything but consistent. The Clyne Puller changed that by permitting the scorekeeper to push the electric release button and observe the target at the same time. Today, the targets are released by voice command. We’ve come a long way.)
In 1898, at the age of 32 years, George Maxwell from Hastings, NE, lost an am in a hunting accident. Five years later, with only his right arm, Maxwell, a longtime hunter and shooter, began to shoot trap. His first year he won the Denver Post Trophy, sometimes thought of as the Midwest championship, and the following year took the championships of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. In 1907 at the Grand American Maxwell took what later became known as the High-Over-All Championship, and tied for the second-high in the Grand American Handicap.
Employed by Remington Arms in 1904, Maxwell toured the US, Canada, and Europe, attending tournaments and giving exhibitions. He was a member of the Remington-UMC squad which included Annie Oakley, Frank Butler, H.W. Heer, Tom Marshall, and Col. J.T. Anthony. He was also a friend of, and shot with the “March King” John Philip Sousa. (Sousa was enshrined in the Trapshooting Hall of Fame in 1985.)
Maxwell was a member of the Okoboji Indians, with the title of Chief Right Wing. (An acquaintance through the Hastings, NE, Gun Club, Sheriff Worthy Wood, stated “Mr. Maxwell was one of the fastest shooters ever known around here. He used a heavy gun, weighing nine pounds, but he worked one arm faster than any two-armed shooter I have ever known.”) In his 22 years of competition, Maxwell’s record averaged slightly over 9%, and his obituary in Trap & Field’s predecessor, Sportsmen’s Review stated “one of the most widely known shooters on the road.”
Saturday, Aug. 10, Event 10, starting at 8:00 a.m., was the Krieghoff 100 Handicap. Trey S. Hill of Murfreesboro, TN, won the event with a score of 99, but many shooters considered Phil Boinske, of Blossburg, PA, the “real” winner. All eligible shooters competing in the Handicap have an opportunity to win a special engraved Krieghoff K-80 “Trap Combo Special” valued at $20,000. At the conclusion of the regular event, a number between zero and nine is chosen at random. Any Handicap shooter, except the winner, whose score ended in that random selected number can participate that evening in a shoot-off for the Combo. Boinske won the shoot-off and garnered a beautiful new Krieghoff.
Event 4, George McCarty Handicap, on Aug. 9, was a big day for 27-year-old Roman Pompe of Havlivkuv Brod, Czech Republic. Pompe, a pool player who knows his angles, has been shooting trap for just three years and has never shot in his own country. He feels his success is due to current ATA Vice-President Neil Winston, who he met in the Czech Republic, and who has mentored him after they became friends. “Everything I know about trapshooting comes from watching and learning from Neil. My goal now in trapshooting is to complete the ‘grand slam,’ and to compete against Neil in an event shoot-off,” said Pompe. (Pompe spends at least half of each year in the US competing in trapshooting events with Winston.)
Event 9, the IDNR Doubles, was won by Dustin Klein of Fremont, NE, with a straight 100. He also took Event 15, ATA Clay Target Championship, presented by Beretta, with a perfect 200. The High Canadian in Event 15 was William A. Wylie, hailing from London, ON. He also shot a perfect 200. In Event 12, the Winchester Singles Class Championship, Cal Roberts of Hershey, NE, broke 200 to take the Class AAA Championship, and Nora Ross of Carlisle, KY, was the top Lady shooter with a perfect 200.
Event 12 has three special races which must be declared prior to shooting. These include Husband and Wife, Parent and Child or Grandchild, and Brother/Brother, Sister/Sister or Brother/Sister, with the trophies awarded based on the combined scores. Nora Ross and her husband won the Husband/Wife trophy with a combined score of 399. Guess who shot the 200. (Nora Ross also won the High-Over-All Champion of America trophy for Lady shooters with 969/1,000.)
Event 14, the President Ken Duncan Handicap, was captured by Charlie Berkhous, of Columbus, PA, by breaking 100, while Leo Harrison III, from New London, MO, took Event 16, the Doubles Championship, breaking 50 straight doubles for a perfect 100. Patrick R. Lamont of Brandon, MB, took the High Canadian trophy by also breaking 50 straight doubles.
Richard Marshall, who won Event No. 1, also won Event 17, the Parliament Coach Handicap, with a 99. Marshall also took the Grand Week High-Over-All Champion of America with a 985/1,000, the High All-Around Champion of America with 398/400, and the White Flyer 2200 Championship with 2,163/2,200. Marshall did not have a bad week.
Chris Vendel of Rochester, NY, broke all his 100 targets in Event 18, Champion of Champions. Shelly L. Heitner of Fort Dodge, IA, also broke 100 to become the Lady Winner. The Champion trophy for Event 19, the Remington Nitro 27 Handicap, sometimes called the “Preliminary Handicap” because it precedes the Grand American Handicap, went to Butler, PA, shooter Michael Pintirsch for breaking 100. Elkton, KY, shooter Catherine E. Lacy took the Lady champion trophy with a 97.
One comment about the Grand at Sparta, not heard when the Grand was held in Vandalia, OH, related to the presence of police. Overheard near the Events Center was the comment, “Why is this place crawling with cops?” It was a valid comment. In more than two decades of covering the Grand in Vandalia this writer cannot recall ever seeing policemen or women stationed on the grounds or the entrances off US 40 (National Road). A few times some off-duty police were noted sightseeing along Industry Row, but usually it was a single person.
At Sparta, there were groups of Illinois State Police and Illinois DNR Police at the entrances and occasionally along the line and the vendors mall. About the only place they did not appear to be present was in the campground area, and they did not seem to be present down the east line of traps or around the tent vendors. There were police at the turn off from Illinois Route 4 onto Country Highway 18, and the north or main entrance to the WSRC was blocked and shooters/visitors were routed one-way west and around to bring them in the southwest entrance, where there were also State troopers.
At the blocked north entrance, the WSRC Events Center and water tower were visible, less than 500 yards away, but it took another five miles before you arrived at a passable entrance. Leaving the WSRC grounds was not a problem, as an east exit near to Route 4 was open to leaving vehicles only. (At the US Open this entrance/exit was open to two-way traffic and no police were present. Two women, neither apparently from Illinois, were watching some police standing in a group south of the Events Center in the parking area, when one commented, “It gives me the feeling Illinois doesn’t trust shooters, even trapshooters.”
One of the local area papers, carried an article saying such rerouting would be “...in effect every day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day of the Grand American.” State Rep. Dan Reitz, stated: “...the complex entrance at the event center will be closed throughout the Grand American, as was always planned. The Amateur Trapshooting Association always wanted that closed during events.” It does seem a bit strange that traffic off a minor downstate Illinois highway and a country (Randolph) highway would be altered, when the traffic pattern off a heavily traveled major US highway in Ohio was not.
Prior to the Grand, Sparta Police Chief Tom Ashley had commented he did not expect one big inflow of traffic: “I think it will be a gradual inflow.” He was probably correct, at least from this writer’s perspective, as campers started arriving days before the Grand started on Aug. 8. Ashley later reported no traffic problems at all. “Traffic is a little heavier in town, but we have had no backups. All is going smoothly.” Sparta Mayor Randy Bertetto backed up Ashley. “All is going smoothly.... I went through the camping area last week, talked to several people and did not get one complaint.”
The majority of shooters who talk with Gun Week did like the space, especially the campers. Many of the vendors, both those at the east end in tents and those at the west end in the Mall, were not so happy. One large vendor, who has a building at Vandalia, was moved to the tent area behind the east line of traps. His stock was housed in a tent and a semi-trailer. He also had an ATF problem. His license for the Sparta location had been applied and paid for, and the ATF apparently told him everything was fine. When the license had not arrived by the time he packed for the trip to Sparta, he called the ATF and checked. Still OK.
As a precaution he decided to transfer his stock to an Illinois dealer with a license so sales could be transferred by the book. Another call to the AFT brought what he did not want to hear. No dealer to dealer sales. If he tried it, he would be fined and imprisoned. Thus, a customer could fill out the paperwork, and purchase the barrels, buttstock, forearm, and the trigger assembly if it was removable, but not the receiver, which would have to be transferred later. As of Aug. 15, this dealer reported his total sales were down to 1% (Yes, he said 1%!) of what they were at the same time last year in Vandalia, and he was packing to leave early Friday, and not returning to Sparta next year. Instead, he plans on transferring his FFL to Arizona and will exhibit at the Western Grand, but “I’m not coming back here.”
Other Dealer Complaints
One east vendor was complaining about the dust, and said it took him from one to two hours every night to wipe the dust off the shotguns he had laid out on the tables. Dust was not much of a problem at Vandalia, since the area between the trap line and Industry Row was an asphalt road for the shuttles, with a bit of grass directly behind the traps. There were also trees for shade at Vandalia on both sides of the shuttle route, but trees will come to the WSRC, in time.
Another vendor in the same east area said the problem was the location of the shuttle routes, which is a definite possibility. “No one knows we’re here. The shooter drives to a spot close to where he’s going to shoot, walks the 50 or so yards to his squad, shoots, walks back to his car or truck and leaves.” It wasn’t that way at Vandalia. Parking was in crowded lots, or across the street, and the shooter walked to catch a shuttle. He or she then rode the shuttle to the assigned trap, and in doing so passed by the front of many of the tent and building vendors.
If something was seen that was interesting he could get off the shuttle on the way back, walk a few steps, look around, and catch another shuttle back to where he had originally gotten on. At least he knew the vendor location for later and, if time permitted, it was possible to ride the shuttle from one end of the line to the other without having to get off. At Sparta it requires two transfers to get from the east end of the trap line to the west end, and at least 30 minutes, if there are no stops, and a transfer shuttle is waiting.
(This writer rode one of the east end shuttles, and with the John Deere running nearly wide oven the trip took 15 minutes one way; there were three passengers and we made no stops until we arrived at the transfer stop for the Events Center shuttle. At no time will the shuttle pass in front of any of the tent or Mall vendors.)
One solution which would make the vendors happy was suggested by one vendor. Put an asphalt road for the shuttles between the trap lines and the vendor areas, which is where most of the golf carts, Gators, etc. were traveling, not back on the asphalt road behind the tents, buildings, and put a bridge over Shotgun Lake so the shuttles can run the entire length without transfers being necessary. Expensive? Yes, but this is a “world class” complex and it has already cost $50 million instead of the original $20 million, and bills are still coming in.
One large dealer, who usually had an extensive exhibit of new and used shotguns and rifles, stated he had brought only half the normal number of shotguns he displays at the Grand, and none of his expensive shotguns or any rifles. There simply wasn’t any room to display them.
A number of the building vendors present every year at the Ohio Grand were not present at Sparta, or if they were this writer missed them. Although some 100 vendors were advertised as being along the east line, the actual count was closer to 80, and some of the missing, included name firms as Briley, Dillon, Fiocchi, Hodgdon, MEC, Hornady, Merkel and Ruger, and there were others.
How did the first Grand American at Sparta compare to those previously held in Vandalia, OH, in shooter attendance? Rumors floating around the grounds were all over the board ... it was up, it was down, it was about the same. Some shooters shot at the 2005 Grand because it was the last one to be held in Vandalia prior to leaving for Illinois. Some shot at the 2005 Grand in Sparta because it was the first Grand to be held in Illinois in over eight decades, and they immediately became a part of the new Grand history. Plus, there were some who came to Sparta to shoot because it was closer and they hadn’t wanted to drive to Ohio.
In reality, the total 2006 shooter attendance was up over 2005, 34,018 to 30,455, but down from the attendance of any of the previous five years. In 2000 the attendance was 35,798 and it continued to climb to a total of 39,655 in 2004. In the first event at Sparta there were more than three times the number of shooters there were in the same event last year, and more than twice as many in any of the five years prior to 2005.
The Grand American Handicap at Sparta was down some 584 shooters, and the Remington Nitro 27 Handicap was down by 438 shooters. There seemed to be no pattern, some events were up and some were down. The IDNR Doubles, which has averaged some 723 shooters for the past six years, had 1,031 at Sparta. Except for the Champion of Champions, which is an event limited to 2006 State or Provincial Singles Champions, participation in eight of the 2006 events was up, some only slightly, while in the remaining nine events the number of participating shooters was down, compared to the 2005 stats.
Compared to 2004, only three of the events showed an increase in participation. However, there were more non-shooters, curious to see the new facilities, and some of them will take up the sport of trapshooting, and return next year as shooters.
Business wise, how did the various vendors do at the 2006 Grand? So far as this writer knows, such information is not available, except from individual vendors. However, based on the small number of people seen in various tents and mall units, and dealers just sitting around, a guess would be business was not booming, except possibly for food vendors and smiths. In 2007 there may be some new vendors and some of those present this year will not return, a fact already known.
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