Facts and Tips About Trapshooting

Learn about trapshooting and read a couple of tips on how to aim for that perfect shot.

Trapshooting (also just known as trap) is a sport that involves a shotgun, a trap house, clay pigeons (targets), and a score sheet. The object of the sport is to hit as many targets per station as possible to achieve the highest score, with a hit meaning a single point and a miss meaning zero. Shooters use shotguns, commonly 12-guage, and 7 ½ ounce loads (anything smaller reduces shooting power, thus reducing the speed of the shot; smaller power levels can be used to reduce recoil strength and are convenient for smaller guns).

In competitive trapshooting there are five stations, starting at sixteen yards back from the trap house. This leaves a shooting distance to the target of approximately 35 – 40 yards, which is part of what makes trapshooting so challenging. Shooters must take a turn at each station and shoot at five targets per station (see image below). After everyone has taken five shots the line moves to the right and the process starts again until everyone has shot in each position. A total of twenty-five shots are taken. Generally, shooters will complete four sets of twenty-five, breaking a score out of one hundred. This maintains an easy percentage and points system when working out the winners for each event.

Regular trap shooting tends to have three main types of events: singles, handicap, and doubles. Singles always take place at the sixteen yard line, which is the closest that a shooter is allowed to be to the trap house. Handicap shooting means that shooters gain yardage (move back) when they win events, thus handicapping the shooter and providing a bigger challenge for hitting targets. Handicap shooters are organized into competitive groups based on yardage gained (safety reasons), and can shoot from anywhere from nineteen yards back to twenty-seven yards back. Doubles take place back at the sixteen yard line with two targets flying from the trap house at the same time, as opposed to the single target that flies in singles and handicap.

Hitting the clay pigeons can be very challenging and frustrating if the shooter doesn’t know how to aim. It is important to remember to follow through with the swing of the gun, even after the shot is fired. It is also important to remember to shoot just under the target if the target is falling, or just over the target if the target is still going for its peak (see figure below). It is generally easier to hit a target if the shooter waits until the target is resting at its peak (where it appears to hover in the air for just a moment). More lead is required to be given to targets that travel at hard angles to the right or left.

As with any sport, protective equipment is required for trap shooters. Such equipment includes ear plugs (absolutely necessary) and specialized eye protection such as safety glasses or tinted safety glasses (law in some places). The ear plugs, obviously, are to protect the shooter’s ears from the loud noise of the gun going off. The eye protection prevents spent shells and other debris to be reflected into the shooter’s eyes.

Trapshooting is a relatively expensive sport, requiring money to purchase and maintain a gun (and applicable licenses), to buy ammunition, and to enter events. The payback for trapshooting is usually not very high and will rarely cover the costs of competing if the competition is at a low level. Trapshooting is fun and is a good way to practice good hand-eye coordination, not to mention being a good way to practice mental concentration.

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carol roach
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Posted on Mar 23, 2010