This year, Wichita Collegiate, a private K–12 school in Wichita, Kansas, celebrates the inaugural season of its new trap shooting team. Founded in 1963, the school has a total enrollment of 966. The head coach, Tom Binyon, a Wichita Collegiate alumnus, worked to establish the Kansas branch of the High School Clay Target League.
“I started looking around to see if there were any [target shooting] programs for high school students,” Binyon told PullUSA. “Other programs didn’t have the structure, but then I came across the High School Clay Target League, and it was ‘Aha! Here we go.’”
Binyon began by sending an email to the national league headquarters to ask if it had any interest in helping him start a similar program in Kansas. The League was supportive, but he still needed to convince individual schools that target shooting would be an appropriate athletic program to offer. The headmaster and athletic director of Wichita Collegiate had concerns about safety issues and program costs.
To overcome the administrators’ preconceived notions about target shooting, Binyon presented a thorough presentation.
“Once you spend some time to go through what kind of firearms we shoot, the ranges, and the safety protocols, then they feel more comfortable,” he said. The League requires each student to pass firearm safety training, which ensures that students develop the skills and responsibility needed to handle firearms safely. This approach has proven successful for the 400-plus teams in the League nationwide. Binyon also highlighted the unique benefits target shooting would provide for students. “Everyone is a part of the team, everyone is competing together, and nobody is an outsider. The League is about having fun, meeting people, and the competition isn’t with each other, it’s with the target.”
The administrators recognized the wisdom in this and granted their approval for the program.
“A large percentage of my students don’t participate in other sports,” he explained. “I’m thrilled to introduce young people to the sport and watch them progress.” The students are also excited, and the team has created shirts, vests and banners.
Wichita Collegiate became the second school in the state to organize a high school target shooting team, following Andover Central, which had expressed early enthusiasm in Binyon’s presentation to establish the League.
“Nobody has been able to motivate youth to shooting sports on a large scale. All the older guys at my gun club are just astounded, they’ve never seen anything like it,” Binyon said.
This year the team has 20 students, and next year Binyon expects to have more than 30. Some schools are currently on the fence about whether or not to start a team, but he anticipates they’re likely to decide they want to launch a program next year. “I would tell all the fence-sitters that now is the time to get moving to get a team started,” he said. “The [Wichita Collegiate] team will grow quite a bit next year as the students go back in the fall and tell their friends how much fun it is.” ✪