THE PIKE-ADAMS SPORTSMEN’S ALLIANCE: A BRIEF HISTORY

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During 1980 a group of friends with a common interest in firearms began spending Sunday afternoons target-shooting on the Metcalf family farm near Barry, Illinois. The guns were mainly .22 pistols and revolvers, and the targets were usually aluminum cans full of water set out at about 20 yards or so. Throw a dollar in the pot, shoot till you miss.  Last man standing takes the money. Then go another round. A lot of .22 ammo got burnt up that way.

As the group grew to about two dozen regular participants, they devised more challenging games. The first semi-formal course of fire was a metallic silhouette match using tiny .22 rimfire rifle targets at 10, 20, 30 and 40 meters–to be shot with open-sighted .22 pistols. Throw a dollar in the pot, etc. Before long an informal classification system developed, and people were coming from as far as 50-75 miles away to shoot a regular bimonthly match schedule.

After a couple more years, and even more people getting involved, several of the original group decided to organize. Seven founding Life Members met at the range on May 22, 1983, and created the Pike-Adams Shooting Association–“PASA“–named for the two Illinois counties where most of the regular shooters lived. Each founder contributed the equivalent of one thousand dollars in materials and $300 cash as Life Member dues to start the organization. These founders were Dick Metcalf, Denise Minor, George Metcalf, Wayne Hazelrigg, Bob Pillars, Stan Kuck, and Richard Window. Their goal was to create an all-disciplines outdoor shooting facility with a park-like atmosphere, where all members of a family could feel at home, and where all types of shooting sports enthusiasts could come together–be they handgunners, riflemen, shotgunners, black-powder shooters, whatever. The hope was to get whole families involved in shooting–not just the men.

On June 17-18, 1983, at a gun show held at the Ramada Inn (now the Eagles Nest Hotel & Conference Center) in Quincy, Illinois, PASA signed up its first regular annual members, and within a month there were nearly 50 shooters on the rolls.

PASA‘s first scheduled form of regular competition was long-range centerfire handgun metallic silhouette shooting, sanctioned by the International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association (IHMSA). This involved 200-meter long-range centerfire pistols and 100-yard .22 rimfire pistols. PASA’s first IHMSA range was set up temporarily in the Metcalf farm’s abandoned hog lot, but it soon became clear that more needed to be done. During 1984, bulldozers went to work and created what is now PASA‘s multi-purpose 200-meter range and landscape ponds.

In early 1985, the world’s largest handgun manufacturer, Smith & Wesson, decided to inaugurate a world-class championship handgun tournament, jointly sponsored by other major corporations within the shooting industry, with prizes amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. They began looking for a site. Because of PASA President Dick Metcalf’s contacts throughout the shooting sports industry as Handgun Editor for Shooting Times magazine, he was able to persuade S&W to consider the PASA facility and surrounding communities in Pike and Adams counties as a possible location for their proposed event.

S&W executives toured the area during March, 1985, and visited with community leaders. Impressed by the potential of the PASA Park range site, and by what the PASA membership had accomplished already–as well as by the enthusiastic volunteer spirit and pro-shooting attitudes of the local population, S&W took the gamble and planted their flag. Press conferences announcing the selection of PASA to host the first annual Masters International Shooting Championship were held in Quincy, IL, on December 16, 1985, and at the SHOT Show in Houston the following month. The rest is history.

In preparation, the PASA membership began working long volunteer hours over months of range development, adding the Action Event Range and Precision Event Range, and improving the existing 200-meter range for the Masters Long-Range Event. Grounds were landscaped, fences installed, parking lots graveled, and the Bikathlon course laid out. Many of PASA’s long-term members well remember going to the range on weekends and evenings during the Spring and Summer of 1986 with their shooting bag in one hand—and a hammer, or paintbrush, or shovel, in the other.

In recognition of its increasing growth and the diversification of its programs, the name of the organization was changed that year to the “Pike-Adams Sportsmen’s Alliance,” and PASA was incorporated in Illinois as a not-for-profit community service and education organization. The “Alliance” concept embraced not only all types of shooters, but also a common cause with community leaders, elected officials, and other local/regional civic organizations.

On August 6-9, 1986, the inaugural Masters International Shooting Championship was held at PASA Park. Its success exceeded all expectations, with the highlight of the week a day-long visit from Illinois Governor Jim Thompson–who helicoptered onto the range to shoot a .22 Precision Event match against S&W President Lee Deters.

As its founders had hoped, The Masters went on to become a permanent event, with its 28th Anniversary match held in 2014. The Masters itself was chartered as an Illinois not-for-profit foundation with representatives of PASA and the Illinois cities of Barry and Quincy as voting members of its Board of Governors, along with top executives from leading firearms industry sponsors. In its glory years of the early 1990s, The Masters awarded over $150,000 annually in cash prizes to participants, with top winners taking as much as $35,000 home from a single match. Competitors, and their families, came from as far away as New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, and Europe, making lifelong friendships with local community residents and PASA members. And in spite of well-publicized difficulties in 1995 due to fundraising failures and defaults by sponsors from outside the shooting sports industry, The Masters continued to be one of the most prestigious handgun competitions in the world, since 2000 limited to only 100 elite Pro/Am competitors.

Shooting and outdoor magazines worldwide have praised the PASA organization, its range facilities, and the community volunteer staff for their accomplishments, and this acclaim has brought more to PASA and the surrounding area communities than anyone ever dreamed. After the first Masters, the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) approached PASA to become host for their annual National Championship. In 1987 seven new shooting sites were completed in “Practical Valley” at a cost to PASA of more than $40,000, and there has been a USPSA Nationals at PASA Park every year since. The 25th Anniversary event was in May, 2012. For the past four years, the Single Stack Nationals at PASA has been USPSA’s largest National Division Championship in the United States–a record likely to be topped when PASA host and produces the 2015 USPSA Production Nationals.

In addition to The Masters and the USPSA Nationals, PASA has for 29 years also been home to a wide variety of national and international championship shooting sports events, including the S&W LadySmith Invitational Practical Shooting Tournament (1987-2000), and the inaugural USPSA National 3-Gun Championship (1990).  In October 1997, PASA became a multi-year host for the U.S. Single-Action Shooting Society (SASS) Midwest Regional Championship/Last Frontier Charity Match. PASA also produced and hosted the July, 1998 International Practical Shooting Confederation North American Championship, a multi-nation I.P.S.C. Level IV competition. That same year, PASA began an ongoing agreement to host the annual 1911 Society Single-Stack Classic pistol tournament, which continues today as the USPSA Single Stack Division National Championship. In 1999, PASA won approval to host the combined I.P.S.C. Level IV 2000 Pan-American Championships & U.S.P.S.A. Open Nationals. Other notable major tournaments have included the I.P.S.C. Level III S&W Millennium Match 2000 in July 2000; the back-to-back 2001 USPSA Open and Limited National Championships, and the USPSA Multi-Gun National Championship in September, 2004. PASA founded the S&W Revolver Nationals in 2013, and will host/produce the USPSA Production Division National Championship in 2015.

The PASA Sportsmen’s Park is today internationally recognized as one of the finest outdoor shooting facilities in the world—still nonprofit, still noncommercial, and still manned entirely by unpaid volunteers. And in spite of the “glamour” surrounding the major national and international events held here for more than a quarter-century, PASA‘s Officers and Directors still emphasize PASA‘s primary purpose is to promote the benefit and welfare of its local membership, and to serve the shooters and sportsmen of our own regional communities. PASA is still, at heart, “just a little country sportsmen’s club.” PASA‘s ongoing schedule of activities for local members includes a variety of regular rifle, handgun, and shotgun matches, firearms training and education courses, hunter sighting-in days, picnics, barbecues, and all types of shooter and hunter services. We have been particularly proud of our Safety & Education and Youth Programs, and our Training Division.

PASA has been affiliated with the National Rifle Association (NRA), the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA), the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), Ducks Unlimited (DU), the International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association (IHMSA), the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA), the U.S. Department of Defense Department of Civilian Marksmanship (DCM), the .50-Caliber Shooters Association, the United Shooting Sports (USS), the Single-Action Shooting Society (SASS), and many other national and international shooting sports organizations. Several law-enforcement agencies, as well as National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve units, regularly use PASA as an official training site.

PASA has never stopped growing.

In 1990, Smith & Wesson provided $40,000 in no-strings-attached matching funds to the Barry community volunteer Masters Coordinating Committee to initiate construction of a multi-use headquarters facility at PASA Park, plus additional assistance from Taurus and other shooting industry corporations. Completed in 1992, and dedicated at The Masters that year in a ribbon-cutting ceremony headed by Illinois Governor Jim Edgar, the fully air-conditioned “Smith & Wesson Hall” Conference Center contains a 250-person meeting-hall, commercial-grade kitchen and concession-service area, shooters’ lounge/classroom, 24-hour rest-rooms, shower and changing-room facilities, club office, press-room/staff meeting-rooms, equipment check-room, storage areas, and a fully-finished basement.

S&W Hall is the centerpiece of PASA’s infrastructure, and serves not only as the hub for all PASA Club activities and major firearms competitions, but is also available to the regional community year-round for business meetings, wedding receptions (and weddings), civic organization activities, family reunions and barbecues, and social events of all types. It exemplifies the PASA concept that firearms organizations need to integrate themselves with their local communities and neighbors.

In PASA’s “Upper Valley,” construction began in 1991 for a 600-yard rifle range project, which opened for regular match use and member practice in 1995. In other rifle venues, a 100-meter .22 Smallbore Rifle Range with covered firing line, a 100-yard centerfire Practical Rifle Range, and a .22 rimfire “Plinking Range” were also opened in 1995, and PASA Rifle Division volunteers completed their own headquarters structure and picnic pavilion adjacent to those ranges. In 2005, the Rifle Division also completed the first six regulation National Match Course target systems at the 600-yard range, funded in part by a grant from Nikon Sports Optics. Additionally, $100,000 for development in Practical Valley during 1992-96 brought electricity to the venues there, added five more USPSA-type shooting ranges, created new roadways and parking areas, and put a comprehensive erosion-control and water drainage/containment system into place. In 2002, the PASA Action-Shooting Division completed work on its own multi-use headquarters structure, range office, and chronograph center located in Practical Valley. In 2005 a 360-degree all-steel-walled Dark House/Shoot House was completed, funded entirely by SureFire, LLC (the world’s leading tactical flashlight manufacturer), which is used for law-enforcement training and major shooting competitions.

PASA has had an immensely positive economic effect on the entire surrounding region. According to analysis by the Quincy Convention & Visitors Bureau, PASA-related events have brought as much as six million dollars annually into the regional economy, for a total of more than $100,000,000 since 1986. The purchase of shooting equipment by members and visiting competitors has also resulted in many, many dollars of sales for local sporting goods outlets, and attracted firearms-related businesses such as Heinie Specialty Products to nearby communities. Major shooting-sports industry firms such as Smith & Wesson, RSR Wholesale Guns, Taurus International Manufacturing, Winchester Ammunition, Nikon Sports Optics, and the InterMedia Outdoor Group have frequently chosen PASA Park and its adjacent host communities for corporate conferences and product development work, as well as for on-location production of weekly television series such as the Sportsman Channel’s Guns & Ammo Television, Petersen’s Hunting Adventure Television, North American Whitetail Television, Personal Defense Television, Modern Rifle Adventures, Handguns, and Ruger: Inside & Out shows.

In recognition of PASA‘s impact, the Illinois State Regional Tourism Council in 1989 presented PASA with its “Outstanding Organization Achievement Award,” given each year to the organization in Illinois that has done the most to promote tourism to the entire state. According to the NRA, that is the only time in the history of the United States that a shooting sports organization has received a state award for promoting tourism.

PASA‘s 1200-plus members are a cross-section of the entire regional community, and shooting sports enthusiasts from across the nation. They include farmers, doctors, mechanics, lawyers, laborers, legislators, police officers, electricians, corporate executives, engineers, politicians, men, women, and youngsters of all types. Many PASA members do not even own a firearm but belong because they want to share in the PASA family spirit. All are equal in their commitment to community service, the expansion of the shooting sports, and the preservation of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

We hope you will feel at home among them.

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