Endowment: Iowa Chapter Aims for Greater Community Engagement

High School Trap TeamsYou had to park out on the side of the highway if you wanted to attend the Warren County (Iowa) Chapter’s State Convention Trap Shoot.

The chapter facilities — located on 19 rolling acres next to Lake Aquabi State Park, just outside the city of Indianola, Iowa — include a beautiful chapter house, remodeled trap range, new trap building, archery range, and wooded three-dimensional target archery path. This was the setting for the Iowa Division meeting in spring 2015, and Warren County Chapter leaders finished the weekend with a trap competition among all the chapter representatives in attendance.

In addition to League members from across the state, several area youth organizations attended the trap shoot, including the Indianola High School trap team, Southeast Warren High School trap team, Warren County 4-H, Southeast Warren Future Farmers of America (FFA) Chapter, and Simpson College Shooting Sports Club. The youth teams turned in some impressive scores, embarrassing the adult teams a bit, but they’ve had some practice at the chapter’s upgraded facility: the trap ranges were expanded and improved thanks in part to a grant from the Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA) Endowment.

Trap 3 Endowement SignWith increased numbers of youth shooting programs and participants in Warren County, finding quality ranges that could accommodate youth practices and competitions had become a challenge. Compound this with an increase in the number of new firearms owners looking for a place to shoot, and the facilities at the Warren County Chapter were not up to the task of efficiently accommodating all users.

In 2013, the chapter received a bequest from former chapter president Lester Davison to expand the ranges to serve a larger community. The chapter leveraged this bequest with grants from other organizations, including a grant from the IWLA Endowment to purchase new equipment.

Trap 3 HouseRange renovations included expanding from two to four trap fields and constructing a field house dedicated to the trap ranges. The building is designed to ensure safety on the range and doubles as storage for the voice activated release equipment and the range’s gun safe. Changing the number and location of trap houses required the removal of approximately two acres of trees and a considerable amount of excavation. Other upgrades allow the rifle and trap ranges to be used simultaneously to accommodate joint programs such as the Iowa Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC).

The Warren County Chapter is now a regional draw for shooting sport enthusiasts. The exact number of individuals using the facilities is difficult to determine, but the chapter’s best estimate is 2,000 to 2,500 unique users. In addition to the aforementioned youth organizations, the chapter hosts basic hunter education courses, Women in the Outdoors events, and Civilian Marksmanship Program classes and shoots.Iowa Warren County Chapter Trap Range

One of the tools the Endowment uses to review a grant application is how well the proposal fits with the League’s strategic plan. The Warren County Chapter did a good job getting youth and adults involved with outdoor recreation, raised the League’s profile for outdoor ethics, and strengthened the chapter’s relations with other League chapters, community groups, and conservation organizations.

For more information on Endowment grants, including grant application forms, visit http://iwla-endowment.org. Applications can be submitted electronically.

Craig Rogers, IWLA Endowment Board member