BY RAEGAN NEUFELD
Starting in 2005, the Fort Hays State Shooting Team has grown from five members to 30, won eight national championships and now has a $60,000 donation for a new training center.
The donation, given by Lorena Kellogg and her late husband Wilmer, was announced at a University Foundation press conference last Friday. The new training center will give the team “a real home,” according to head coach Duane Shepherd. Currently, the team practices at the Hays City Sportsmen’s Club. The new training center will still be at the club, but provide the team with offices, a meeting place, and a place to store their machines.
“I think it will add another feather to the emphasis Fort Hays has put on the shooting team,” Shepherd said. “They recognize what the team has brought to the university over the years.”
While there is no set timeline for the project, Shepherd said they have pictures and diagrams of what the center will look like, and he believes the project is “well on its way.”
The students practice on their own over the summer before starting as a team on the first day of school, preparing for a multitude of clay target shooting events at a typical competition. These include American Trap, Doubles American Trap, American Skeet, Doubles American Skeet, Sporting Clays and Super Sporting Clays.
“Typically we shoot about 400 targets in a weekend,” Shepherd said.
So far this year the team has competed every weekend since August 27, with this weekend being their first break. They will continue to compete until the middle of November, before the national championship competitions in the spring. These competitions are hosted by the Scholastic Clay Target Program and the Association of College Unions International, which recently partnered with each other.
“Now there is a new organization called the National Collegiate Shooting Sports Athletic Association that just started this year and we became a member of,” Shepherd said. “They’re developing their program, and we’ve been to a couple of their events. We’ll continue working with both groups as it fits our needs.”
While Shepherd has been a part of the program since its start in 2005, he said the students are responsible for how successful the team has been.
“It’s the students that have been a part of this program that have made it what it is,” he said. “We have good students. We have good, honest young individuals who come in here. They want to make it work and benefit from it, but they understand buying into the philosophy and doing the things necessary.”
This is something others have seen as well.
“Besides the national championships, we’ve been recognized over the years as one of the most professional and well-organized groups out there,” Shepherd said. “It’s due to [the students]. We’ve been blessed with good kids.”