is some basic information on Trap Shooting!
Trap shooting, often called "American trap
shooting" to distinguish it from other forms of
trap shooting, is but one of many sports based on
shooting small disks launched into the air. These disks
are of various sizes. They are shaped somewhat like a
Frisbee and fly in a nice arc through the air. They are
made of various combinations of substances so that they
break when hit. Well, sometimes they don't break, but
they're supposed to break. The matter of
"hard" clay pigeons is a constant source of
complaint. Clay pigeons are commonly called
"birds" and I'll switch to that name to save
typing all those extra letters. In addition to trap
shooting, people also shoot other games involving these
disks, such as skeet, sporting clays, 5 stand and wobble
trap. This last is like trap shooting, except the trap
machine is set up to vary both the direction of the clay
pigeon's flight and the angle of elevation.
Trap is shot at a range. A trap range has at least
one, and perhaps many, trap fields, each of which has a
little structure called the "trap house" that
houses the machine that throws the birds into the air.
This is called the "trap machine," and
sometimes just the "trap." The trap machine
throws the birds in a random pattern limited to a 44
degree horizontal arc, with the birds exiting the house
at about 47 miles per hour and traveling about 50 yards
before hitting the ground. The trap range uses either a
hand release run by the score keeper, or voice calls
that respond to the shooters' voices to send an electric
signal that causes the trap machine to launch a bird.
Each trap field has five shooting stations in an arc,
each station being 11 degrees away from its neighbor.
The shooting stations are paths radiating out from the
trap house with distances from the house marked from 16
to 27 yards. A round of trap is 25 birds, 5 birds being
shot from each station in rotation.
Trap shooters commonly shoot three events:
singles, handicap and doubles. Singles are single birds
shot from the closest distance, 16 yards from the trap
house. Since the birds are usually about 15 to 25 yards
out by the time the shooter fires, even the 16 yard
singles are 31 to 41 yards away. Handicap is like
singles, except it is shot from various distances,
depending on one's ability, between 19 and 27 yards.
These birds are 35 to 52 yards away, depending on one's
handicap and reaction time. Since very few shooters with
slow reaction times ever earn a 27 yard handicap, that
52 yard figure is an exaggeration. 27 yard shooters
actually shoot their birds at 47 yards or less. As you
might imagine, a little disk, 40+ yards away and flying
at 40+ miles per hour can be a difficult target. Doubles
are two birds launched simultaneously, shot from 16
yards. Doubles are even more difficult and are, by far,
the most fun. A round of doubles is usually 25 pairs, or
You can use any shotgun gauge, up to 12 gauge.
Using anything smaller than a 12 gauge entails a loss of
hitting power. Some do choose smaller guns for their
lower weight and reduced recoil. Note: in shotguns, a
larger numerical gauge designation refers to a smaller
bore. A 20 gauge is smaller than a 12 gauge. This holds
true for all shotgun bore sizes other than the .410.
".410" refers to a bore that is .410 of an
inch in diameter. Unless you are truly crazy, you will
not be using a .410 to shoot trap. It is just too small.
You may use up to 1 1/8 ounce of shot in 12 gauge. I
don't know what the weight limit is in 20 gauge, but
typical commercially available target loads are 7/8
ounce. You may use shot sized 7 1/2 and smaller. Like
gauge sizes, a lower shot size number refers to a larger
shot size. The maximum velocity allowed is 1250 feet per
second for 1 1/8 ounce loads. You may use slightly
higher velocities for lighter loads, and the whole thing
gets really complicated. Why bother with all that? Just
get some 1 1/8 ounce #8 shot target loads.
You will probably feel intimidated by the
prospect of trying this sport, but if you'll just go and
give it a try, you'll find that you will be welcomed by
the participants. Practicing safe gun handling is the
primary concern. Even though trap shooting is a game,
it's a game played using deadly weapons. There is
absolutely no room for unsafe gun handling.
Trap shooting has some simple, straightforward
rules. Always practice safe gun handling. Only load your
gun when it's your turn to shoot. Only load one shell
unless you're shooting doubles. For doubles, you may
load two. If, while you're on the trap field, the staff
needs to tend to the trap house, to reload the machine
or otherwise adjust the machine, unload your gun. In
trap shooting, the gun's safety is ignored. Do not
bother with it. Your gun is either loaded and ready to
shoot, or unloaded. The only "safety" is an
There are several interesting rules about gun
failures, broken birds and so on. Your fellow shooters
and/or the score keeper will help you with them. Just
don't get flustered. While shooting doubles, remember
that you are only allowed one shot at each bird. If you
miss your first bird, you must switch to the second bird
and try to break it instead of shooting at the first
bird again. Even though a round consists of 25 birds,
and a round of doubles consists of 50 birds, you should
carry some spare shells in addition to the 25 or 50 you
expect to shoot. If a bird is broken in the process of
being thrown, you'll get another bird to shoot. If you
shoot at that broken bird, you'll need a spare shell. If
you shoot out of turn, you'll need to reshoot that turn.
If, in doubles, you shoot the first bird without
noticing that your second bird broke while being thrown,
you'll have to reshoot that turn. If your gun fails to
fire after you hit your first bird in doubles, you'll
have to reshoot that turn. Obviously, if you miss your
first bird, a failure to fire on your second bird counts
as a lost pair. Otherwise, sly shooters would tend to
have a lot of "fail to fire" episodes after
lost first birds.
"Lost birds" are birds you didn't break.
"Dead birds" are the ones you did break. A
dead bird means you definitely broke the bird. Knocking
a little dust off it isn't enough. You must at least
knock a chip out of the bird. Ordinarily, the score
keeper announces the lost birds but not the dead birds.
Among trap shooters, dead birds are the norm, and
therefore not worthy of mention. On the other hand, lost
birds are announced with great gusto. Hearing
"lost" over and over again can get to be quite
annoying, to say the very least. In doubles, the score
keeper announces the results of every shot: "dead
pair," dead, lost," "lost, dead," or
"lost pair." "Lost pair" is never a
at the Grand, Zone, State and other major
shoots based on the combined scores of the 400
championship targets, 200 singles, 100 doubles and 100
the percentage of targets the shooter has hit out
of the total shot at.
- yearly book compiled by the ATA listing all singles,
handicap and doubles averages of each member who shot
during the previous year.
- positions in handicap shooting from 24 to 27 yards
behind the trophies.
- a) one which comes out of the trophies in pieces. It
is declared "no target" whether the shooter
shoots at it or not, and another bird is thrown. It does
not count even if the shooter hits it b) a whole target
which the shooter hits and is scored as
signal given by the shooter for the release of the
target. Usually the word "pull," but any sound
may be used.
a system of diving shooters into groups - based on
previous records, ability, etc. - in singles and
doubles. Classification is done by a committee of
shooters. AA is the highest class; D or E are the
- the term used for a target broken by the shooter.
- one of the three events in trapshooting. The shooter
stands 16 yards from the trophies and fires twice, once
at each target that are fired simultaneously.
- the number of shooters in a specific event.
- the trap field ; refers to the entire layout of the
trap and shooting positions.
- singles targets are shot at by shooters standing a
minimum of 18 yards and a maximum of 27 yards from the
- championship based on the combined score of all
targets in a program. At the Grand it includes 1,000
targets over the final six days.
any shooter under the age of 18.
- the term for a target missed completely or only
- the call given by the referee when the shooter does
not have to fire at a target. Ex. A target that is
thrown from the trap broken.
- the two targets fired simultaneously in doubles
- clay pigeon, the target.
the person who releases the target from the trap, either
by an electric switch or by hand.
- method of deciding ties in which the shooters fire
targets are shot at by shooters standing 16 yards from
the trap. One shot fired at each target.
a group shooters (five or less) who shoot together at
one trap and who shoot in rotation.
-the breaking of all targets in an event.
- any shooter under the age of fifteen.
- the device used to propel the target.
a structure 2 1/2 feet below the ground 16 yards in
front of the station that houses the trap, trapboy and a
supply of targets.
- at the Grand any shooter age 65 or older.
- a) one of the five districts in which the ATA divides
the United States and Canada. b) one of the districts
into which various states divide their territories.
- tournament sponsored by the ATA in each of its five
zones and for which the ATA furnishes the major