The early days of trapshooting were dominated by a couple of outstanding shooters. Captain Adam Henry Bogardus, he is the fellow who invented the Bogardus trap machine in 1877, literally romanticized the sport with his shooting prowess. Bogardus was a world champion and the United States Champion Trap Shootist. Bogardus, along with his sons, toured with Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley in the Wild West Show. This helped spread Bogardus’ fame, not only in the US, but worldwide.
William Frank “Doc” Carver was six years junior to Bogardus but every bit as great a shooter. Bogardus and Carver set about a series of trapshooting matches around the country with Carver winning 19 of those contests and cementing himself as a World and American Champion Shootist.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, trapshooting became an immensely popular and lucrative sport. Ammunition and firearms companies promoted the “Sport Alluring” and “Patriotic Sport.” The Dominion Shotshell Co. described trapshooting as “-the game of real, red-blooded men and women, where you are always sure of a hearty welcome and the companionship of kindred spirits.”
In 1885, the first national trap tournament was held in New Orleans. Then in 1890, the Interstate Trapshooting Association was formed and in 1900 the first “Grand American” was held in Queens, New York. In 1919, the Interstate Association name was changed to the American Trapshooting Association and in 1923 further revised to today’s Amateur Trapshooting Association.
1924 found the ATA building a permanent home in Vandalia, OH, a Dayton suburb. In 1999, the 100th Grand American Tournament was held under the leadership of my friend, Montana’s Gene Clawson, Jr. who was the ATA president at the time.
After the need to expand the Dayton, OH airport onto the ATA grounds in Vandalia, the ATA moved to the World Shooting and Recreation Complex north of Sparta, Illinois in 2005. The complex cost over 50 million dollars. It has 120 trap fields that stretch about 3 miles, 746 RV sites, a 34000 square foot events center and many other amenities.
Trapshooting has come a long ways from its beginnings in England, but one thing that Dominion claimed is still the same, “the companionship of kindred spirits.”
Be safe and good shooting.