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Giovanni Suriz (center) part of a group of 40 Brazilians competing at the 2017 Grand American. This year the ranks of Brazilian shooters swelled to 80. The ATA played the Brazilian national anthem prior to competition Monday to honor the Brazilian contingent.

Attendance and participation were both up at the Amateur Trapshooting Association’s Grand American.

The event, the largest trapshooting event in the world, is held at Sparta’s World Shooting and Recreational Complex. Competition ends today with the Grand American Handicap.

“There were probably about 4,500 shooters,” said Lynn Gipson, the ATA’s executive director. "We won’t know for sure until next week until we combine the AIM and Grand American. We only count them once. AIM was up tremendously.”

AIM, the ATA’s youth program, saw an increase of about 19 percent from last year. Gipson said the scope of the increase was unexpected.

In addition, favorable weather conditions meant participation was also up. The only weather related issue occurred Tuesday when rain forced the postponement of the Downrange Manufacturing Doubles Class Championship.

Gipson said the event was moved to Wednesday. The additional event meant shooters started earlier and competed later, but the competition was completed.

“We’ve thrown a few more targets this year, but not a lot,” Gipson said. “That’s better than less. Most all of the events at the Grand had an increase, just not a big increase, but a slight increase on everything.”

The number of competitors was about what the ATA expected.

“Our pre-registrations were up nine percent,” Gipson said. “I think part of that is because we are using new software. The shooters seem to like it. It gives them a little flexibility. I didn’t immediately think the number of shooters would be up nine percent. I just thought they liked the software.”

Among the participants this year were 80 shooters from Brazil.

“That’s probably the largest foreign contingent at the Grand American in history,” Gipson said. “Maybe 20-30 years ago there might have been that many shooters from Canada. We played the Brazilian national anthem on Monday to honor the number of shooters they had here.”

He noted the event was a success in other areas too. Corporate sponsorship remained steady and the competition ran smoothly.

“The shoot seems to get little easier every year,” Gipson said. “So many of our staff have been here for a dozen years. They are all cross-trained.

I don’t think this trap line and the management of it is second to none. I am just annually pleased at how awesome these people are.”

les.winkeler@thesouthern.com

618-351-5088

On Twitter: @LesWinkeler​

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Sports editor

Les Winkeler is sports editor and outdoors writer for The Southern Illinoisan.

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