HISTORY OF ALL AMERICAN TEAM SELECTION
by Richard Hamilton
All-America teams for trapshooting were first selected in 1927. Jimmy Robinson (1896-1986), then assistant manager and statistician for the ATA, had written several trapshooting columns for Grantland Rice, the famous sports columnist who picked All-American football teams for Collierís magazine. "Granny," as Jimmy and his ilk affectionately knew him, asked Jimmy to pick an All-America trapshooting team for his syndicated column in Sports Afield. Jimmy did just that in 1927óand for the next 37 years he did it alone. As the numbers in the ATA grew to immense proportions, Jimmy Robinson chose a committee to help him. From 1964 to 1974 the committee was composed of Roy Finnell, Herb Orre and Betty Ann Foxworthy, editor of Trap and Field.
Upon Jimmy Robinsonís retirement from a monthly column in Sports Afield in 1975, Gene Hill took over Jimmyís duties, with the same committee still assisting. Then in 1977 the Amateur Trapshooting Association assumed the responsibility for team selection, and it became the ATA All-America team rather than the Sports Afield one.
From 1927 until 1950, the teams bore the year designation of the performance (the 1927 team was chosen for 1927 shooting records). But in 1950, because of advanced deadlines for magazines of the era and the time element involved in selecting the teams after the end of the target year, it was decided to have the team bear the designation of the year in which it was announced (so that it would seem more current news for the wire services, etc., receiving the releases). Therefore, there was no 1950 team, and the 1951 one was based on 1950 performance. It has been that way ever since.
In early years, usually just one woman, one junior and one industry representative were selected on each team, then in 1949, upon a suggestion from author Ernest Hemingway, Jimmy began selecting a full-fledged junior team. He also expanded to a womenís first - and second-string team at that time, plus a full industry one. A second team for the men had appeared for the first time in 1942, becoming a regular part of the selections in 1945.
By 1958, there was one sub-junior named as deserving All-America honors, and this one selection each year for the under-15 age group was made for two years, with a full sub-junior team making its appearance for the first time in 1960.
In 1962 a veteran team was selected that encompassed persons doing well over a period of years who were still active in the sport. (The age then was 70 and over.) One veteran was named in 1966 and 1967, and a full-fledged veteran team came into being in 1968, at which point in time the ATA had reduced the veteran age to 65.
By the 1990's the teams were no longer selected by individuals but instead a shooter had to earn points towards his or her team selections. Points are awarded for major wins in ATA major shoots. The larger the shoot the more points a shooter can earn. This method continues to this day. The point system has been tweaked almost yearly until today when the system is almost perfect. The major shoots include the Grand American, the Satellite Grand's, the State Shoots and the Zone Shoots plus any shoot with large attendance figures.
International teams have periodically been chosen, based on performance in Olympic competition and world championships. The initial international team was chosen for 1970. In 2003 the ATA announced their first Amateur Trapshooting Association (PVA/ATA) Wheelchair Team. For the first time the 2005 selections included first and second team selections for all the All American categories.