The KCTA opened at the current Smithville Lake (MO) location after the closing of the old Elliott’s Shooting Park in Raytown in 1986. The roots of the Association however go all the way back to 1887, when the three Elliott brothers (left), Robert, Jim (J.A.R.), and Dave opened their shooting park in Kansas City.
Dave soon left to go to work for Winchester, Jim left to tour the world, becoming one of the finest live pigeon shooters in history, so the shooting park was left to the guidance of Robert, or “Uncle Bob." The Elliott name soon became synonymous with pigeon and target shooting not only in Kansas City but nationwide. In 1903, the last live pigeon national championship in history, the Grand American at live pigeons was hosted by Robert Elliott’s Blue River Park at 7500 Independence Avenue, Kansas City Missouri.
On November 27, 1921, Uncle Bob’s son, Russ Elliott and a handful of local shooters officially organized the KCTA as a shooting association, supported by a board of directors and separate from the ownership and management of the shooting facility. Russell soon assumed complete management of the shooting park, and in 1934 moved the Blue River Park to the newly constructed, ultra modern Elliott’s Shooting Park at 9500 East 75th Street, Raytown Missouri. The new park featured a spacious clubhouse, with lunch and locker rooms, and of course trap, skeet and live pigeon shooting. Shooters came from all over the country to compete at Elliott’s where Russ Elliott’s “firsts” and innovation were not uncommon. Elliott’s hosted the first ever “car shoot” in trapshooting, the “Mo-Kan” in the 1950’s.
The original intent of the KCTA was the promotion of local trapshooting through the administration of weekly “club” competitions. With an emphasis on 16-yard shooting in classes, the events of handicap, sliding handicap and doubles were added in order to fortify the year-round program and cover all disciplines of the sport. In addition to weekly winners, trophies were offered for bi-monthly and annual champions. With the ownership and management of the shooting park controlled by the Elliott family, the concerns of the KCTA were concentrated on the maintenance of the weekly and annual shooting records, determination of trophy winners, and, of course, the site and menu of the annual banquet.
Unfortunately, private ownership of Elliott’s Shooting Park ended in foreclosure in 1984, seven years after the Elliott family sold the club. After several months in receivership, over 100 shooters lined up to close a trapshooting tradition with a shot at a final “wooden” target at Elliott’s on November 17, 1985. This was a repetition of the ceremonious final shot fired at the Blue River Park in 1934.
With no home grounds and possible elimination of a nearly 100 year trapshooting tradition, the KCTA Board of Directors were faced with either giving up or embarking on the task of finding a new location. After several frustrating months, an exhaustive search throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area ended at Clay County’s Smithville Lake.
Along with the help of donated funds and labor, the first targets were thrown at the new KCTA Public Shooting Park at Smithville Lake in August 1986. The new facilities featured nine trap fields, two skeet fields and a 4,800 square foot clubhouse. Trap houses were built “walk-in” style. The new clubhouse included a snack bar, manager’s residence, a workshop and target storage space.
Situated in the middle of the Smithville Lake park (30 minutes north of downtown Kansas City, and 20 minutes east of KC International Airport), the KCTA Public Shooting Park enjoys an east, west and southern view of the 7,200-acre lake, which is within walking distance of the trap line.
Administered by Clay County’s Department of Parks, the lake has over 175 miles of shoreline, which abounds in wildlife. Lake fishing game species include largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, bluegill, muskie and walleye. In addition, there are over 7,000 acres of public hunting in the Smithville wildlife management area.
Local game includes deer, turkey, geese, ducks and quail (at times visible from the trap line). Other recreational facilities within the park include camping, swimming beaches, a golf course, two marinas, sailboat facilities, picnic areas, ball fields and miles upon miles of one of the nation’s finest networks of paved walking and biking trails.
Beginning in 1995, the KCTA hosted monthly NSSA registered skeet tournaments each year. In 1996 the club has honored as the NSSA two-field club of the year. By 1997, the KCTA had become the second largest registered trapshooting facility in the state. Hundreds of trap shooters from throughout the Midwest compete during more than 30 days of ATA registered tournaments over the course of the year. In addition to national tournaments the KCTA hosts several trap leagues during the year. Since 1996, the KCTA has hosted the annual Kansas City Corporate Challenge Trapshooting Championships. Held each spring, the event draws over 100 competitors representing businesses throughout the Kansas City metro area. Many of these competitors are novice shooters, new to the sport and the Smithville Lake area.
The KCTA is open to the public year round on weekends and some evenings, and other times by appointment. The club provides gun safety and shooting instruction plus loaner guns to encourage new shooters. In addition to throwing targets, a wide variety of shells, reloading components and shooting accessories are available at competitive prices.