A Long Tradition of Shotgun Shooting Sports in Decatur, Illinois.

The origins and growth of the Decatur Gun Club parallel that of the clay target itself, and the
games created to hone and test shotgun-shooting skill.  Shotgun sport shooting with live
pigeons and later, glass balls existed in the U.S.from the early 1800's.  But the first "clay
pigeon" and "trap" to throw it were not developed until about 1880 by George Ligowsky.  
William Brett From Decatur was the second manufacturer of clay targets in the U.S., which he
called the "Decatur Red Bird".Considered the oldest shotgun shooting sports club in Illinois, the
Decatur Gun Club was founded soon after clay targets were invented.  Chan Powers and Bert
Hildebrandt were two of the mentors of the club, first located near East William Street Road and
22nd Street.  In the early years, the club occupied sites in the Hess Park area, the Wyckles
Corner area, the Macon County Fairgrounds, and an area west of the Fairgrounds before
finding it's home at the north end of Faries Park in 1938.
DECATUR GUN CLUB HISTORY
Founded 1890
In May of 1938, the Decatur park District
responded to a request from R.D. Montgomery
and W.G. Traver of the Decatur Trap & Skeet
Shooting Club  (as it was then known) to
construct facilities for the gun club in Faries
Park on ground donated to the park District in
1925 by the daughters of Robert Faries.  
Private funds were pledged from the sponsors
to share in construction costs, and the Park
District approved building the original
clubhouse as a W.P.A. Project,  which was
completed in September 1938.Facilities have
been remodeled and expanded over the years,
but the style and character of the original tan
brick and exposed mortar have been
maintained to distinguish DGC from most
facilities found today. Nine Trap fields and
eight Skeet fields are in regular use today
along with the clubhouse. Decatur Gun Club is
open to the public and members for
recreational and competitive shooting most
weekends (except major holidays)  year-
round.  
activities also from part of the DGC program in service to members and the public.

TRAP: This oldest shotgun sport originated in England before 1800 and in the U.S. about 1831.  Today, the Amateur
Trapshooting Association (ATA) prescribes the standards for trap. Each field consists of a single trap house from
which targets are launched forward (flying away)  at a standard speed and height above the ground but at random
angles within 22 degrees left or right of the trap bunker center. Five shooting stations from an arc 16 yards behind the
bunker center, spaced 3 yards apart.  Additional yardage or "handicap" positions extend on the same radians out to
27 yards from the bunker.  Shooters fire in turn from their respective starting  stations until five targets have been
called by each.  They rotate to the next station, repeating the process, until each squad member has completed the
25-bird round of five targets from each of the five stations.A long-standing tradition of the Decatur Gun Club is the
Saturday afternoon "Trap Derby."  Participants shoot a 25-bird round from 16-yard positions.  A second round is shot
from the yardage defined by the score achieved in the first round or the shooter's established ATA  handicap,
whichever is greater.  For example, if a shooter with an ATA handicap of 22 breaks 24 targets in the first round, he or
she would shoot the second round  from the 24-yard positions.  The highest raw score for the two rounds wins a
weekly purse of $3.00 per entry.  A "jackpot" accumulated from $1.00 per entry per week can be won by a shooter
posting a perfect score of 50 broken targets for the two rounds.  The "Derby" is open to both members and
non-members of DGC. Decatur Gun Club hosts "registered trap competitions several times each year.  These are
usually one-day events sanctioned by the ATA and Illinois State Trapshooters Association allowing participants to
compete for honors and prizes while recording scores to establish historical performance rankings and qualifications
for State and National recognition.  Open to all ATA/ISTA members, participants often travel some distance to attend
and compete in 16-yard, handicap and doubles events.

SKEET: This shooting sport is an American creation, developed by a group of hunters in Andover, Massachusetts in
the 1920's as a means to refine and practice their wing-shooting skills.  The word  "Skeet" is an old Scandinavian form
of the word "shoot."   Today, the National Skeet Shooting Association prescribes the standards and rules for the
game.  Each field is laid out in a semi-circle with a trap house at either side at the front of the field.  The left house,
called the "high house, launches a target from 10 feet above the ground at a slight upward and outward angle.  The
right house, or "low" house, launches a target from 3 feet above the ground at a sharper upward but similar outward
angle to that of the high house.  The target trajectories are prescribed with standard speeds, heights, and  distances
to cross within  an imaginary three foot radius eight feet forward of the field center point.  Wind and adverse weather
often cause the actual flight path of these wily "birds" to vary considerably from that intended which becomes one of
the games' real challenges.  Seven shooting positions are located around the semi-circle with station one being
directly at the high house and station seven directly at the low house.  An eighth station is located at the center of the
field midway between the two houses.  Unlike Trap, which has shooters positioned on different stations, all Skeet
squad members shoot in turn from the same station before moving on tho the next position.  Like Trap, each round
consists of 25 birds but unlike Trap, doubles as well as singles are shot at four of the eight stations. Decatur Gun Club
presents one of the more active Skeet shooting programs in Illinois.  The most popular event is the J.E. Rambo
Memorial Skeet League, better known as the Winter Skeet League.  Each year, some 25 to 30  7-member teams
compete in two divisions (American and National) over a four-month period beginning the first weekend in January.  On
each Sunday of competition,  teams are paired to win or lose 3 "games" from two rounds of Skeet (50 birds)  based on
the team's scores that week adjusted by a handicap calculated from each shooter's natural average.  At the end of the
regular season, the teams from each division with the most games won, shoot against each other in a "World Series" to
determine the overall league winner.  An "All-Star" shoot is also held involving the individual from each team with the
highest average for the season.  From April through October, Skeet League competition is offered to DGC members in
doubles, 410-bore, 28 gauge and 20 gauge usually on Tuesday and Thursday evenings during daylight savings time.
A "Combo" league offered in the fall features on round each of Trap & Skeet."Registered" Skeet events are held
throughout the year to offer shooters the opportunity of recording or registering targets shot and scores achieved for
performance classification with the National Skeet Shooting Association.  The most popular of these events is the
"SOYA" Skeet Championships, a 3-day, all gauge and doubles competition held the first weekend in June.  Skeet
enthusiasts from throughout Illinois and surrounding states vie for honors and cash prizes awarded to Class winners
and Champions.

SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL:  A highlight of the Decatur Gun Club social calendar is the "May Breakfast"  for
members and families the first Sunday in May.  Marking the end of Winter Skeet League, the "World Series" and
"All-Star" events are shot following a fine breakfast served to all by the team winning the "World Series" shoot off the
previous year.  Another  popular event is the fall "Turkey Shoot' usually held the last Sunday in October.  Open to
members and the public, shooters compete in clay target games, which are variations of the standard trap or skeet
format to win turkeys, hams, bacon, sausage of other "meat" prizes. Decatur Gun Club has promoted skill development
in recent years by engaging the services of recognized expert trap and skeet instructors to conduct clinics for
interested shooters.  Two DGC members are trained NSSA certified skeet instructors and can provide instruction on
the field to beginners or others trying to improve performance.  DGC hosts and sponsors youth firearm and hunter
safety programs and supports the Decatur Park District in its Community Challenge program.

SAFETY:  Any shooting activity involves inherent hazards.  Decatur Gun Club enjoys and accident and injury free
history due to its emphasis on basic safety rules, common sense and courtesy. For example, only shotguns are
permitted on the grounds.  Guns are to be kept "open" & no shells may be loaded until the shooter is on station and
ready to "call for the bird."    All persons must wear eye and ear protection while shooting and spectators must remain
behind the fields  at a safe distance.  Safety training is conducted annually for members and staff and all shooters are
required to sign a safety declaration prior to using the facilities. MEMBERSHIP:  The heart  of any organization is it's
membership and the support members provide, not only financially, but also in terms of time and talent devoted to  
implementing the organizations' purpose.  About 260 annual and life members provide the core of support for Decatur
Gun Club.