By CRISTINA JANNEY
The Hays Sportsmen Club recently concluded its fall leagues, but the club and its facilities have brought in thousands of shooters since it was founded 41 years ago.
The Sportsmen Club brings in about 150 to 160 shooters twice a year for spring and fall shooting leagues. The shooters are coming from surrounding communities, such as Russell, WaKeeney and Downs, and as far away as McPherson and Concordia.
The shooters and their families dine and shop in Hays, which is a boon to the local economy, said Kevin Campbell, club president.
Registered shoots bring in smaller crowds, but are two-day events and bring in participants from all over Kansas and out of state.
The club has seven trap fields, two skeet fields, the ability to throw five stand targets, pistol and rifle ranges, 12 camper hookups, and two clubhouses with heating and air conditioning that are also used for
functions of other organizations.
On the third Saturday of August, the club sponsors an annual Youth Outdoor Sports event, which includes the Bass Anglers, archery, paintball and skeet. The event hosts about 175 children annually.
4-Hers practice weekly at the club.
The Fort Hays State Shooting Club practices at the club twice a week and just brought home a national title.
During the team’s three-day invitational at the club in September, 135 individuals represented nine colleges. Club members estimated just the college shoot shot two and half tons of lead.
Pheasants Forever just had their annual kickoff for Pheasant season at the club on Nov. 9.
The law enforcement range has been used by the Hays Police Department, Ellis Police Department, Victoria Police Department, Ellis County Sheriff’s Department, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Kansas Wildlife and Parks and Tourism, and Kansas Highway Patrol.
If you are not a club member, the club is open to the public from 4:30 p.m. until dark Mondays.
By providing a safe, legal place to shoot, the club prevents vandalism in the county. If people can shoot legally at the club, they are less likely to shoot up county road signs.
Stan Newell, who is on the club’s board of directors, has been shooting since he was young.
“It can be individual, but it is also a team competition,” he said. “You are competing against each other, but you are trying to shoot better than you did the last time. It is just fun.”
Campbell said, “It is similar to any other activity like golf. Once you do it, you kind of get involved in it and you stick with. I have been there since 1984.”
He said the club has grown significantly in its 41-year history. When Campbell started at the club, their leagues had about eight teams. This season, the club had 31 teams in the league.
The membership fee for the club is $125 per year. League fees are $60 per person per season.
The club’s quarterly meeting is coming up at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20. The club’s Christmas potluck is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18 at the clubhouse.