What do night crawlers – the worms that are popular bait with fishermen – have to do with sporting clays?
Nothing unless you’re Wichita’s Hancock family.
They also own the Wichita Gun Cluband always planned to have a shooting range.
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When they found the Lynbrooke deal, the distributing business had to be part of the package, which Jess Hancock says he didn’t mind because the worms are the moneymaker.
“The business side of it really made sense,” he says. “The worms (are) what made the deal doable for us.”
Before the Hancocks moved the Wichita Gun Club to expanded space at the southeast corner of Kellogg and Edgemoor in late 2014, Jess Hancock had been close to a deal for a shooting range in Butler County, but potential neighbors opposed it.
Lynbrooke, which is named for the original owner’s granddaughters, has been at 1419 SW 120th St. in Augusta since 1987.
It has 13 stations that imitate hunting sports with sporting clays that fly from traps.
For instance, there are rabbits that roll on the ground, birds that fly like quail and ducks that fly in to land on a pond.
“They call it the golf of shooting sports,” Jess Hancock says. “It’s become quite a sport.”
In fact, it’s in the Olympics.
Hancock says customers can shoot a registered shoot at Lynbrooke once a month to earn points for state and national competitions.
There will be different levels of shooting, which will be divided by age and gender.
Hancock says there will be upgrades to the machines as well.
“We’re going to come in and give it our love and spend some money.”
Hancock says the Wichita Gun Club’s namesake – a club that started after World War II and lasted into the 1970s – was one of the top trap shooting clubs in the country. He says this will “get us back to our roots.”
Christy Hancock says she has newspaper clippings of the club from the 1950s with men in shirts and ties shooting trap at Maple and Ridge Road.
“I love that history part,” she says.
Hancock says she’s excited to tie that part of the Wichita Gun Club with Lynbrooke.
Though she has a fond memory of her grandfather taking her shooting once, Hancock says she doesn’t know a lot about guns.
“It’s not my passion, but my husband’s my passion.”
That’s why Hancock, a registered nurse, says she’s willing to take on the worm business and help grow it with new outlets of distribution.
“That’s a no-brainer,” she says. “I love talking to people. That was an easy way for me to help contribute.”
The company, which has been in business since 1984, imports Canadian night crawlers and distributes them to Wal-Mart, Cabela’s, Academy Sports & Outdoors and small bait shops throughout the region.
“It’s a big deal,” Jess Hancock says.
“My wife never thought she’d be the worm lady,” he says, laughing.
“I just find it very fascinating, actually,” Christy Hancock says.
She says a Laotian man who lives in Canada has 60 employees who search for fat night crawlers every night.
“He drives a semi from Canada as often as I need it,” she says. “Where I need to grow that business probably is just marketing it a little bit more.”
Hancock says both new ventures are something she and her children – Hannah, 20, Grace, 17, Jess Jr.,14, and Darius, 8 – can participate in.
“It’s just a family effort,” she says. “That’s kind of what you do at family businesses.”
She says that’s especially so while her husband is still with the Wichita Police Department.
Jess Hancock says it can be “pretty tough” working two jobs. He says he still loves his police work but plans to retire in March 2021 and focus on his businesses full time.
Jess Hancock Jr. has an idea for a car his mother can drive for the worm business. He calls it “the bait mobile” and says there could be worms painted on the side and perhaps a giant worm sitting on top of the car like an ice cream cone on top of an ice cream truck.
“For the record, I’m not driving around in a vehicle with a worm on top,” Christy Hancock says. “That’s not in my plans anyways.”
Darius says it’s “pretty cool” that his family is buying a couple of more businesses, though he doesn’t plan on having anything to do with worms.
“No, they’re really weird,” he says. “I’m just going to drive around golf carts.”
Jess Jr. is excited for several reasons.
“It’ll be a lot of fun to learn how to shoot (sporting clays),” he says.
Nor does he mind being in the worm business.
“I think it’s kind … of funny.”
Chirsty Hancock says helping with the businesses will instill a lot of great things in her children.
“We just believe in hard work.”
She says she’s also happy to give back to a husband who sacrifices so much for his family.
“You know what? I believe in my husband, so if it takes selling worms, I can do that.”