Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Chicago Hit Job On World Shooting And Recreational Center

You shoot trap or skeet. You live in the 'burbs. You aspire to a Perazzi or Krieghoff custom shotgun to go with your Beemer. You don't particularly care for the NRA as all they care about is protecting those mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals and their evil black rifles. Besides, Mayor Bloomberg and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have always said they are only after the illegal guns and that they respect American sporting traditions like trap and skeet.

Sorry to intrude on your dream world but you might want to think again.

Fox 32 News out of Chicago has just done a nice hit piece on the home of the Grand American - the World Shooting and Recreational Center in Sparta, Illinois. They are saying it is an expensive boondoggle that has cost and continues to cost Illinois taxpayers millions of dollars.
Chances are you've never heard of the World Shooting and Recreational Complex; which is too bad, because you almost certainly paid for it. In fact, Illinois taxpayers kicked in tens of millions of dollars for the downstate tourist attraction. The problem is, it isn't attracting a lot of tourists and it continues to lose money.
And who is leading the charge to get rid of it? None other than Illinois State Senator Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) who is one of the leading gun prohibitionists in the Illinois General Assembly.
"The state must live within its means. Fund what works. Get rid of what doesn't," Kotowski says. "Should we be in the business of making sure that we have sport shooting competitions, shooting competitions should the state government be in that business whether it makes people feel good or not? I think we should be in the business of educating our children."
Unfortunately, the World Shooting and Recreational Center is also being targeted by the free-market leaning Illinois Policy Institute. They have consistently called for the state's spending on it to be cut. They call it a "giant white elephant" in the Fox 32 report which can be seen below.

It should be pointed out that the World Shooting and Recreational Center hosts more than the Grand American and skeet and trap shooting competitions. There are regular SASS, IDPA, and USPSA pistol competitions held there. You can also shoot trap, skeet, and sporting clays most days of the week when competitions are not being held.

Would the World Shooting and Recreational Center be better served by being in private hands? Maybe. That said, the attack on it now by Dan Kotowski and others is a backdoor attack on shooting in general. If they can limit places to shoot, they will make it harder to exercise our Second Amendment rights.

Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News


  1. Frankly, governments and poiliticians are nearly universally incompetant to make business diecisions, so I'm in favor of them NOT being involved in grand ideas where the government foots the bill and tries to run a business. It hurts any possible fair market competition, almost universally fails (or at least falls so far below expectations as to be kissing cousins with failure), and is a net loss for the treasury, with little or no offsetting advantages.

    Yeah, they should sell it outright, let a private organization run it, and be content with collecting tax revenues from it. Doesn't matter if it is downtown gentrification by having the city open boutique strip malls, the government cutting inordinately advantageous out of pocket deals to entice a major business to set up a location (only to close up shop and move away if the "starter" tax advantages aren't maintained in perpetuity), or a shooting range.

    At least it's a consistant position. Now what boondoggles outside the scope of government responsibilities does State Senator Kotowski propose to eliminate in addition to this range, so they can reserve taxpayer funds for actual government responsibilities? They should all be cut as well, until ALL "core" functions are 100% funded and the treasury is running a reliable surplus each year after all obligations and debt retired. . . because "nice to haves" should NEVER be paid for out of debt, nor should debt be maintained on "gotta have" functions so new revenues can be blown of frills.

  2. If it's losing money, then by all means get it out of the state's hands immediately. The only reason it runs at all is probably in spite of the states involvement, not because of it.
    In fact, if they get it out of the state of IL completely, I would like to attend a shoot there.
    I can't now because I won't spend a nickel to support IL, or any other anti 2nd state, if I don't absolutely have to.

  3. You cannot just go out and shoot at the WSRC. You may only shoot during events. I cannot join this range and drop by after work on Thursday to practice. Even practice must be organized by a range employee. It requires a practice event.

  4. I know little about the WSRC or its management, but there is a very good chance that it is funded from earmarked revenue generated from license sales and self-imposed taxes on guns, ammunition, etc. - a state equivalent to Pittman-Robertson funds, and possibly actual Pittman-Robertson funds from the feds.
    This could be a rope-a-dope in preparation for a run at getting those designated "sportsman revenues" out of their earmarked channels and into the General Fund where they can be used to buy new wallpaper for the Capitol Building, or a fact-finding, trade mission to Phuket for members of the legislature and their mist... er... secretaries.
    Perhaps some changes need to be made at the WSRC, but our side needs to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

  5. I am admittedly late to this party by a whole year. Long story short, I was the volunteer USPSA and steel challenge match director out there for about 16 months. Heavy emphasis on the volunteer part. I was replaced by two state contract employees, a husband and wife team. I don't know why I was replace because, to put it bluntly, nobody at the IL DNR had the balls to tell me either on the phone, via email, or to my face. It was surreptiously done, and Val at USPSA HQ clued me in. So with a state that is already in the red to the tune of $5 Billion dollars, the DNR just took on two more payroll positions most likely ranging from $60,000 to $100,000 per year, for both. Why?

    As to Ken Rihanek's comment, the reason he just can't go shoot out there any ol' time is because without a scheduled event, the employees can't justify their jobs. The contract employees have to be able to put something down on the timesheets they turn in.

    Brad Schilling

    1. And one more thing to add, for the longest time since about 2006 or 2007, I had been trying to get IDPA, steel challenge, and USPSA matches going out there. I still have all the emails. The Cowboy Action Shooters have "ruled the roost" the whole time. A few years back as I began to chat up the IL DNR folks, they just casually mentioned that they were heading to SHOT show in Vegas. So I told them that they could probably meet up with the higher highers of USPSA and IDPA while out there. February rolled around, and I called them, and called them, and called them. Finally, I got a hold of somebody and he says "We can't have your matches out there. Your bullets travel too fast."

      So fast forward to late summer 2010, and another
      local guy has worn them down and they relent. At least in my view, we only got our foot in the door because of the budget crunch. They needed us out there to justify their jobs.

      Outside of the the three weeks surrounding the Grand, the place is basically a ghost town.

      Brad Schilling