Willis Corbett

Inducted in 2021
Died: Jan 3rd, 2023
State: MO

Willis Corbett of St. Louis, MO, is being inducted for his contributions to trapshooting. He was active for more than 40 years behind the scenes and in the forefront during careers with Winchester, Anheuser-Busch and the National Rifle Association plus after retirement. Prior to World War II, there were two associations for AfricanAmerican shooters. Corbett was involved in the Western Skeet & Trapshooting Association for those west of the Mississippi. During his time as a Winchester field representative, he worked to garner mainstream recognition for shooters and shooting. When Winchester started building its own shooting facilities, the Winchester Public Shooting Centers, Corbett traveled in coordination with exhibition shooters and took turns demonstrating guns and ammunition. He worked with Winchester’s ammunition division and helped get the shooting sports into the Association of College Unions International (ACUI), which made shooting a college sport. Winchester oversaw a shooting program in more than 300 colleges and universities. Through Winchester, Corbett became involved with AnheuserBusch in the 1970s. He worked directly with senior vice president Luke Meatte, who, according to Corbett, was instrumental in getting Anheuser-Busch involved in the shooting sports. The company gave patches to all shooters who competed in the Budweiser events at the Grand American, and Willis said thousands were distributed. Twenty-five of them were numbered, and patch No. 4 is framed and part of Corbett’s shooting mementos. He was instrumental in bringing the Budweiser Clydesdales to the 1985 Grand. As well, he worked with Anheuser-Busch to do a sponsorship with the military’s National Matches. Volunteering with the Missouri Department of Conservation for many years, Corbett received the department’s Pioneer Award. He worked with state legislators, governors and judges as well as U.S. Senators and Representatives, promoting conservation and gun rights. Corbett worked as a field representative for the NRA from 1979 to 1991, hired on the spot for his political acuity, according to retired NRA Executive Secretary Jim Land. Land called Corbett a dynamo. “He did a tremendous amount of work for our Institute of Legislative Action. Anything that Willis did, he devoted himself. He was instrumental in getting the NRA building set up at the Grand American and worked on the membership campaigns. He is just a phenomenal promoter.” Corbett said, “I’m most proud that I’ve had shooting programs in almost every state and nine provinces in Canada. Most of them involved several shooting disciplines: trap, skeet, centerfire, highpower rifle, pistol and black powder.” Corbett was instrumental in establishing the Missouri Youth Sport Shooting Alliance, which now represents more than 200 schools and clubs and thousands of student athletes. After graduating from high school in 1942, Corbett joined the Navy. He served stateside in Virginia and sea duty in the Philippines, where he was with logistic support teams before and after combat. “My time in the service instilled in me that when I got home, I had to do something to make a difference.” He and wife Jo celebrated 75 years of marriage in May. They have two daughters, Ollie and Barbara. A life member of the ATA, Missouri TA and PITA, Corbett will be the first African-American inductee into the Trapshooting Hall of Fame.