CEDAR FALLS — While walking the State Association Grounds at the 140th Iowa State Trapshoot, it would be a difficult task to find someone who is not familiar with Harlan Campbell.
The Tribune, Kan., native has built a reputation as one of the finest shooters in the nation, taking aim at over 450,000 targets in his career.
Campbell has constructed a trophy collection of more than 150 prizes in Grand American competition, including eight Grand rings. He has collected three each for all-around and high overall and claimed one singles championship and a solo doubles title. In 2008, Campbell topped his awards with the Champion of Champions title.
Campbell has been an ATA All-American 21 times, an eight-time Grand American World Trapshooting Champion, he has 273 career 100 straights in doubles, and is a member of the Kansas and ATA trapshooting halls of fame.
“We have won a lot of things over the years, and the competitiveness is not quite like it used to be for me,” Campbell said. “It started to become a grind, but don’t get me wrong, I still like to compete and I still like to win. But it has come down to I really like the instruction part of what I do.
“I have been doing this for so long that I really felt like I needed to give something back.”
Campbell has been touring the nation putting on clinics and teaching classes to youth shooters, first-time shooters and even helping individuals who have become police officers.
“I like to sit people down in a class and explain the parameters of the sport,” Campbell continued. “There are so many constants of the game where secrets lie, and the thought process needs to be talked about.
“A big misconception is most people think that we use weapons. These are not weapons, they are shotguns, they are our tools, and we have pride in the tools we use.”
Campbell still finds time to participate in as many shoots as possible and coming to the Iowa shoot is always exciting.
“I have been coming here for the last 15 years or so, and it is a big show of many great shooters who are on their way to the Grands next month,” said Campbell. “If you can shoot and win in Iowa, then you should be able to shoot and win at nationals.
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“The people here put together a great event. If you have been doing it for 140 years, you must be doing something right. It is like family here, it is a unique fraternity.”
Part of the fraternity is past presidents who frequent the Iowa shoot.
Four past presidents and current president Dennis Dozark formed a presidential shoot three years ago that has been a unique event at the ISS.
Dave Wickman of Clear Lake became this year’s champion, but with a heavy heart.
Wickman outshot his peers with a score of 98, (Dozark 95, Dennis Bigelow 95, Jon Peterson 86, and Phil Thyer), but had a scary moment as they tended to Thyer, who succumbed to the scorching heat of the day.
“I noticed Phil was acting different and his voice was beginning to quiver,” said Wickman. “We decided to stop the shoot and get him to a cool place.”
Thyer had a brief encounter with the heat on Tuesday morning and was rushed to Allen Hospital with a mini-stroke.
“He is alright now,” assured Wickman. “I was really humbled by the score and it did not matter who won or lost. It is such a great feeling to shoot with these guys after working so hard all week on the events here.
“We work so well together and we are really good friends. It is just nice to shoot this and not have to worry about all the other stuff.”
Wickman is leaving his seat as an ATA delegate after this season and welcomes the relief.
“I’ll miss it, but I want to leave with a good taste in my mouth,” said Wickman. “I will also enjoy just coming to a shoot and having fun. Heck, it will be nice to have the luxury to just sit and relax and maybe even have a beer or two. After I am done shooting, of course.”