History of the Club
The Early Days
According to legend, Mr. K.A. Little, of Kinsley traveled to Chicago in the summer of 1901 on business. While there, some friends took him to the local gun club to try the new sport of shooting at clay targets.
When he got home he and twelve friends organized the Kinsley Gun Club on July 5, 1901; to have a place to shoot clays and to "preserve the game resource".
According to club records the charter members were: Lou F. Beal, J.E. Brelsford, Monroe DeTar, J.B. Donnell, Henry J. Draut, A.C. Dyer, Dave L. Heath, S.G. Leonard, Kirby A. Kittle, Al M. Merryman, P.H.Moletor, Wilbur Oliphant, and F.E. Taylor.
Following is a reprint from the July 21, 1901, issue of The Sportsman's Review. (Forerunner to Trap & Field) "A gun club has been organized at Kinsley, Kansas, with the following officers and members: M. DeTar, president; J.L. Brelsford, secretary; S.G. Leonard, treasurer. Members - F.E. Taylor, W.T. Watson, H.J. Draut, Hinkle, L.F. Beal, R.W. Bidwell, D.M. Lewis, A.C. Dyer. The principal object of the club is to protect the game from market gunners."
You will note that some of the names are different. Notably absent from the Sportsman's Review clipping is Mr. Little. According to a history of early Kinsley residents, he moved here in September 1901!
We really know very little about the early days. None of the records except the membership list survived. We were unable to find any account of the founding of the club in local 1901 newspapers. We don't even know the first location of the club, or when it moved to it's second location near the west end of the present football field just west of the present club.
Thanks to Mrs. Gloria Breitenbach; whose father was Fred Brodbeck, we have a newspaper account of a big shoot held at the club in 1923. They awarded $187 worth of merchandise prizes and $65 in GOLD! Mr. Brodbeck was quite a fellow...and a fine shooter...he broke 94x100 at the big shoot in 1923 and was Kansas singles runner-up in 1924. He joined the club in 1915 and served as president.
Mr. Wilbur Oliphant lived north of Offerle and had a rifle and shotgun range on the farm. At the club's 50th anniversary shoot in 1951, he a fellow charter member Henry Draut broke 20 and 21 of 25!
The Later Years
Our Club has always drawn shooters from a wide area. Over the years, there have been trap-shooting clubs at many of the surrounding towns. We know of old clubs as Offerle, Rozel, Larned, Great Bend and others that started, flourished for awhile and then folded, but Kinsley managed to survive. How did that happen?... Probably just a lot of hard work and sacrifices by the members and officers. We know very little of them until after the 2nd World War.
The club moved to it's present location in 1948. We don't know who did the work, but we feel sure that Herb Wetzel, Ted, Joe and Herman Schaller and Clint Little were included. By 1964, when Mr. Little started keeping good records, they were joined by Arthur and Alphons Stiebe, Gilbert Herrmann and many others as officers and hardworking members.
The club was very active in the years after the war and local shooters enjoyed a lot of success in registered game even though no ATA targets were shot at Kinsley. Two local shooters have won the Kansas State Hanidcap, Herbert Wetzel in 1948 and Herman Schaller in 1956. Both men shot scores of 100 straight! In the late 1960's, THE shoot in this area was the Mile-Hi at Denver. Two of our members, Ted Clinesmith and Larry Schmidt won the main handicap and in 1968, five area shooters, all Kinsley members, won about all the awards at that shoot.
By 1970, Bob Cromer and Larry Schmidt of Greensburg, Ted Clinesmith of Wright and Frank O'Brien of Lewis were shooting a lot of registered targets with some success. They badgered the old timers into sponsoring a ATA shoot at Kinsley and modestly called it "The Kinsley Grand". They put all their families to work. Larry's wife Carlene served as cashier. Cheryl Clinesmith, Betty Cromer and Mary O'Brien were the cooks. All of their children worked as trapboys and pullers.
In 1971, we added the "Doubles Marathon"; in 1975, the $1000 Bill Shoot, and as they say, the rest is history. Starting with just two traps, we expanded to five fields in 1973. Joe Schaller brokered a deal to acquire the land, and all young and old pitched in to do the work. Terry Schaller donated all the wiring. A new shooter, Rusty Lake, built the score board and the railing. Sometime later, a new kitchen and rest rooms were added. In 1986, lights were installed on two fields after director Ben Short scrounged up the poles and did the work.
Our aim, from the very start, has been to run quality shoots. Since we shoot east, and the wind sometimes blows, Kinsley can be a tough place to shoot. We hope good targets, fine food, serious money and fun times make it right.