Born: June 27, 1939 (Fairfax, Oklahoma)
Graduated: Russell High School, 1957 / University of Oklahoma, 1962
The year is 1947. An eight-year-old Bill Morris started shooting clay targets under the guidance of his father because he wanted to get his son involved in bird hunting. To his father’s surprise, Morris was hitting more targets than expected, so they continued practicing. After a few months, Morris entered some local turkey shoots and the high score got the turkey. It wasn’t long before Morris started defeating the men in these turkey shoots and was getting lots of turkeys.
Morris continued to get noticed more and at the age of ten, he started getting involved in more serious shooting competitions. After getting a new trap gun in 1951, Morris started winning junior shooting championships. By 1959, Morris had won the National Junior All-Around Championship, seven Open Kansas State Championships and an ATA Zone Championship.
Morris graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1962 and then joined the Army as a Second Lieutenant in the Armor branch. Because of his trapshooting background, Morris was invited to try out for the Army’s elite Marksmanship Training Unit at Fort Benning after completing his basic training. Morris qualified to join the Unit permanently and he concentrated on Olympic style skeet and trapshooting for the next two and a half years.
During his time at Fort Benning, Morris won the US International Skeet Championship in 1963 with a record score of 297 x 300, Inter-Service International Trapshooting Championship in 1964 and finished second in the US International Trapshooting Championship. In 1964, Morris made the American Olympic Shotgun Team and
earned a Bronze medal in the Trapshooting Event, the first Olympic medal for the US in this event in forty years.
Morris was discharged from the Army in late 1964 and returned to Kansas to make his living in the oil and farming business. Morris had to quit his Olympic style trapshooting as a result of there being no practice fields within a reasonable distance of his home. Morris did not shoot much American style trap after this, but he did finish 2nd at the US National Singles Championship in 1965. In 1969, Morris went to work for the Browning Arms Company for ten years before moving back to Kansas. In 1987, now nearing age 50 and more than twenty years after his shooting peak, Morris won the Kansas Open All-Around and Handicap Championship. Morris was inducted into the Kansas Trapshooting Hall of Fame in 1988 and was also inducted into the US Army Marksmanship Unit Shotgun Hall of Fame.
Morris only had one coach in his shooting career and that was his father. His father was not a competition clay target shooter himself, so a lot was learned by trial and error and observing, but he was extremely supportive of his son’s shooting career.
Please welcome Bill Morris to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.
By: Sam Hays