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Posts Tagged ‘Grand American trap shoot’

I was listening to CNN while I was getting ready for work the other day when I heard a headline about a “dramatic increase in gun sales” over the holiday season.  A spokesperson from the NRA attributed it to Americans feeling unsafe and wanting to defend themselves.  I think you probably could have seen me roll my eyes from the next county over.  Excepting for a moment that background checks do not equal gun sales (for example, you can’t pawn a gun without a background check), and ignoring the fact that the gun industry has never released sales figures (thanks to aggressive lobbying by the NRA and NSSF to keep those numbers secret), this sensationalistic supposition that the increased sales were to people looking to defend themselves is completely unsupported by any hard data.

You see, I grew up around guns.   My dad was actually one heck of an amateur trap shooter.  I’m sure many of you know sport shooters and hunters, and frankly, none of them are keeping their 12-gauge shotgun by their pillows at night. As a matter of fact, most are keeping their guns in safe locked cabinets, because they know that people are more likely to be injured from an unsecured gun than from a rogue intruder.

Laura with a 12 gauge shotgun in Spring 2011.

Enough of my soap box though- this is an adventure blog and the reason I’m writing today is to talk about what sport trap shooting is, how it works, and why it’s a great adventure!

American Trap Shooting can basically be broken into 3 categories: single trap, double trap and handicap.  In all cases, there is a trap launching machine placed in the center of a field.  The machine throws brightly colored, 4.25”

Clay Pigeon or "Bird"

Trap shooting lay out, credit Iweb

hard clay disks for the shooters to target.  Five shooters stand behind the trap house in a fan shaped range and take turns calling for a target or “bird” from an official, who normally sits just behind the shooters.  In singles and doubles, the shooters will be positioned 16 yards behind the trap house.  In handicapped rounds, shooters will be positioned according to earned difficulty.  Shooting a certain number of good rounds at a given yard line will earn the shooter a higher handicap and will back them up further from the trap house, up to a maximum distance of 27 yards.   Handicaps are governed by the amateur Trap Association (ATA) and can only be earned in registered events.

The guns used for American Trap Shooting are generally 12-gauge single or double barreled shotguns.  Double barreled guns can be side-by-side or over-and-under configurations.  The most common ammunition is probably Winchester AA or Remington STS loads, though there are many brands available.  The rounds consist of plastic shells with primers filled with shot, powder, and wadding.  Some shooters reload and reuse spent shells to cut down on costs.

In single trap rounds, one target is launched from the trap house at a random trajectory that can be anywhere within a 35 degree horizontal arc and a 45 degree elevation in front of the trap house.  You’ve probably seen something like this if you’ve ever played Nintendo’s Clay Shooting on the Duck Hunt game!  In doubles, 2 targets will be launched simultaneously but each has a different flight pattern.  Targets fly at about 40-60 mph, depending on the conditions.

My sister Brandi hits a target. Look closely and you can see the pieces.

My dad, Tracy, "smokes" a target- or hits it so perfectly that no large pieces remain.

Standard trap rounds are 50, 100 or 200 targets, with 100 being the most common.  Each shooter gets 25 targets and then rotates to the next station.  Many “fun” or non-registered rounds will consist of 125 targets so that the squad will shoot from all 5 positions.

In events, team cohesion is very important.  The five shooters develop a rhythm of calling for their targets and if a team member breaks that rhythm for, say, a jammed shell or a target that comes out of the trap house broken, it can break the concentration of everyone on the squad.  It’s actually almost musical to listen to a good team.   Each member has their own call for a target (my dad says “haw!”), each gun has unique percussive sound, and even the shells pop out and hit the ground in a predictable way.

My brother Chris uses a hand-launcher to throw targets.

There are many variations on the traditional trap shooting I described above which use different types of targets (ex: Rabbits), different configurations of target launchers (ex: skeet shooting), different types of rounds (ex: Olympic Trap) and different placement of shooters.  All of these are fun opportunities to test your skills use a gun in a sporting way.   Any target practice and safe use of guns can be a great way to get your Adventure Foot out the door to try something new.

Tyler launches targets from a manual trap station. Gun clubs have automatic button-fired launchers.

There are many resources you can consult to learn more, or you can visit a local gun club to watch a registered event.  Here are a few links to get you started!

DNR Safety Courses: http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/safety/Pages/default.aspx

Trap Shooter Info Site: http://www.trapshooters.com/

Find Gun Clubs Here: http://www.claytargetsonline.com

Gun Clubs in our area include: The South Side Boat Club, West Quincy Gun Club, Smoking Gun Hunting Club (Hamilton, IL).

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