Trap and Skeet

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Published on: Jul. 2, 2001

Last revision: Nov. 9, 2010

from "clay," the name carried over. "Clay" targets continue to be made of silt and pitch.

Skeet shooting is a relative newcomer that first gained widespread popularity in the 1930's. Invented in Massachusetts in 1920, it was named by Mrs. Gertrude Hurlbutt of Dayton, Montana, in a 1926 contest sponsored by National Sportsman magazine. "Skeet" is an old Scandinavian word for "shooting."

Many recreational shooters also enjoy sporting clays, which came to the U.S. from Britain in the early 1980s. Sporting clays imports the formality of trap and skeet shooting into a more challenging field environment.

"In sporting clays, you shoot at various target presentations that are intended to simulate actual hunting situations, such as flushing quail, springing teal, incoming ducks, and so on," said Glenn Holland of Joplin, a member of the Missouri State Skeet Association. "If you want to see some frustrated target shooters, you should watch them try to shoot at a rabbit target bouncing fast across uneven ground."

At the Range

Novice shooters may feel like they've entered a strange new world when they first visit a range. For beginners, it's best to pair up with an experienced shooter the first couple of times. Not only can this person guide you through the shots at each station, but he'll also be able to give you practical pointers and techniques. Ear protection and safety glasses are mandatory on a range.

A round consists of 25 targets. Shooting a round of trap takes about 40 minutes on average for a squad of five. On the skeet range, the same group will take an hour and a half to shoot the same number.

It doesn't take long for new shooters to learn how the 25 shots are distributed in a round of skeet or trap. From their shooting stations, trapshooters yell "pull" when they're ready for the target. In skeet, the calls are "pull" for the left throwing machine (also called the "High House") and "mark" for the right throwing machine (also called the "Low House"). Someone behind the shooter then hits a button on a remote control to send the targets flying singly or in pairs.

Automatic launchers are nice, but you can still have a lot of fun in a field with only a handheld thrower and a box of clays. A case of 90 targets costs about $5, and with a decent handheld thrower available at $15 or so, it is a very economical

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