CEDAR FALLS — Wendy Delagardelle was 13 years old when she hopped on her bicycle and rode a mile down the road to the Cedar Falls Gun Club to see what all the shooting was about.
She quickly landed a job as a scorekeeper and has been a mainstay at the Iowa State Trapshoot since.
When Delagardelle turned 20, she was offered the job as line boss and trainer for the crew that works the trap houses and keeps score, a position she has now held for 32 years.
Her dedication and leadership were recently recognized by the Iowa State Trapshooting Association with induction into its Hall of Fame.
“We have been trying to get her in the last couple years,” said ISTA Hall of Famer Dennis Bigelow. “No one deserves it more. She is well known out here as a hard worker and getting good youngsters in here to work. We are excited that she finally made it.”
Delagardelle said it’s a humbling experience.
“It is definitely an honor to be rewarded for doing something that I enjoy so much, “ said Delagardelle. “I remember coming here on my bike and keeping score. I only lived a mile north of here so it was easy getting here.
“When I started there were only 24 traps and everything was done by hand. The kids in the trap houses loaded each trap by hand and the scorekeepers had to push a button for the traps to go then quickly write down the shot. Now we have 37 houses and everything is automated. It makes it a lot easier.”
These days, some of Delagardelle’s crew are the children of past workers.
“I even have my kids and even my grandkids working for me,” said Delagardelle. “My kids went to Don Bosco and they tell their friends about the job and they come here to work. I have recruited kids from a lot of the local schools and they are all good workers and enjoy their time out here.
“This is a great place to meet so many people and I have made friends with people from all over the country and Australia and Canada, and it is just like having a big family.”
With many years at the helm, Delagardelle has seen almost everything. Still, Saturday’s wind storm that whipped up gusts of more than 65 mph was a little scary.
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Vendor tents took off in the wind and awnings from campers were bent out of shape as people scrambled to save what they could.
“It was like a mini tornado,” Delagardelle said. “It was crazy, it even blew over one of our double port-a-potties. It did help cool it off a bit as the whole week has been so humid and hot.”
With all the time she has dedicated to this event and trapshooting in general, Delagardelle has never shot at a target.
“She has done such a wonderful job getting everything ready and organized,” said past president Denny Dozark. “I can’t say enough about what she has done here.”
Delagardelle and the crew are among the reasons that people come from all over the world to shoot in Cedar Falls.
For Justin Smith, it is one of his favorite places to be, although it takes him two airplane rides and a rental car to get here.
Smith and his shooting partners made their second trip from Australia to Cedar Falls for the annual shoot.
“This is a beautiful place you have here,” said Smith. “I believe this is one of the best facilities we have been to. The people over here are so friendly and they make you feel welcome immediately. We travelled for over 23 1/2 hours to get here but it is well worth it. We have not shot that well so far but we are having a great time.”
Except for the heat.
“It gets hot down there where we are from, but not with all this humidity,” Glenn Barton said. “It is like a tropical place here without all the pretty birds. It is hot and it affects the shooting a bit.”