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By Trishna Buch
The cool thing about high-school is that
there are certain classes that students can
choose to take, due to a passion or interest
in the course. Brandon Noto, Santa Fe
High School graduate and one of Texas
City High School’s agricultures teachers,
leads one such elective. And these classes
are set up in such a way, that not only do
the students get classroom and lab experience,
they also get really world experience
to apply what they are learning in class to
the real world.
Noto, who graduated from Texas A&M
University with a degree in Agricultural
Science, is the financial advisor on the
TCHS Shooting Team, which was put
together through the FFA program. “The
requirements are that we have an agriculture
teacher on our team,” Tom Estep,
shooting team coach, said. And Noto wanted
to emphasize that, despite what the
team is referred to as, they are not the
TCHS Skeet Team. “We don’t shoot skeet,”
he told me. Noto told me that he prefers that
people refer to them as the FFA Shooting
In order to be a member of the FFA
and—and eligible for the shooting team—-
–students must be taking one of the agriculture
electives at the high-school, which
are either taught by Noto or his teaching
partner. Along with this, they must also be
hunter and education certified. The team,
Noto told me, practices on Thursday evenings
from 4:30-7:30pm and—when they
compete—they do trap and 5 Stand. The
team is coached by Estep and assistant
coach Chris Ballard.
Noto also told me that he has been in
contact with the Friendswood 4-H club
to create another shooting team for interested
students who are not in Texas City
schools. “The FFA program must always be
under a school and Texas City is the only
one to have a shooting team under it,” he
told me. “The way it works is that you can
only be in the FFA program that is under
the school you are in. So students from
Dickinson, Galveston and Santa Fe—for
example—cannot join our shooting team.”
However, the 4-H team is for the entire
county, meaning that anyone can be a part
of it. Therefore, what Noto plans to do, is
create a shooting team under the 4-H label
and open it up to these out-of-Texas Citystudents
who may be interested. “And, with
this team, children as young as eight can
join,” Noto told me.
The TCHS shooting team is quite successful,
with their current rank being tenth
in state. And Estep and Noto wanted to
emphasize the help they get from their
donors and sponsors; most especially
Texas City mayor Matt Doyle. “This would
not be possible without mayor Doyle,” said
Noto, explaining just one of the many things
Doyle has done for the team. “This past
school year they changed the ending time,
so now students don’t get out until 4:10. In
the winter, when it gets dark really quickly,
the gun range would close at 4:00pm and
so the students would not be able to practice.
But mayor Doyle had the city put in
lights so it stays open and we can practice
as usual.” Estep also mentioned individuals
at the Shooters Corner, who have also been
very generous in terms of their support and
donations. Noto also told me about the
$15,000 grant they received from Cabela’s
Outdoor Fund, which will be used to provide
sponsorships for students who want to be
a part of the team but cannot afford it. And
he also said that they are always looking for
sponsors to aid a student in participating. If
you would like to be a donor or a sponsor,
contact Noto at
The shooting range is located at 4000
N Bay Street in Texas City and is open on
Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon
to 7:30pm, and on Fridays, Saturdays and
Sundays from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Noto
invites everyone to come out to the range
on Thursday evenings to see the team
perform, and to attend one of their competitions.
The next competition, he told me, is
on December 9th at Waller.
But that isn’t all! Because, along with
the shooting team, students who take one
of the TCHS agriculture classes can also
participate in the ag- barn. “We currently
have 40 kids who are raising market lambs,
market pigs, market steers, market goats
and market chickens on location. They can
also raise market turkeys and market rabbits,
but those are kept at their house,” Noto
told me. These animals are raised and then
sold at the Galveston County Fair and at
the major livestock shows around the state.
How it works is that the buyers will come to
these events and buy the animal the kids
have been raising. They can also make a
commitment to the student, at a fixed price,
which will help them for the next round of
fairs and shows.
For more information about the FFA program,
the shooting team or the ag-barn,
contact Noto at or 409-

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