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Learn about Trapshooting Here!

Section 1 of 3, Trapshooting: 

(Continue to Scroll down for all three sections.)

Trapshooting is the oldest shotgun sport known to man or woman.  Trapshooting is a game of movement, action and split-second timing.  No sport requires more accuracy and skill than the trapshooters must have to repeatedly point, pull the trigger, and break the target.  The 4 5/16-inch discs are hurled through the air at speeds approaching 60 feet per second.

 Trapshooting is like basketball in that the lead can change repeatedly in seconds.  Each shot presents a different challenge and each effects the out come.  The timing, rhythm, and concentration required to smash a moving clay target, is similar to what’s required of a baseball batter.

 Unlike basketball and baseball, however, trapshooting is a participant sport rather than a spectator one.  Because spectators may not number in the thousands at a championship shoot does not mean there is a lack of interest in the results.

 Hundreds of thousands of hunters who shoot trap now and then for practice are aware of organized trapshooting.  To them registered trapshooting is what the World Series is to a sandlot ball player.

They play at the game themselves. They want to know what the people who really take the game seriously are doing.

 Trapshooting is one of the only sports that have a permanent home for the sole purpose of holding it’s national tournament.  The national trapshooting championships have been held continuously at the Amateur Trapshooting Association’s home grounds in Vandalia, Ohio. 

 Trapshooting appeals to millions who hunt.  Man’s survival at one time partially depended upon his ability to hunt game for food.  His sense of accomplishment and enjoyment in using a shotgun has not diminished through the years, although the necessity of doing it to keep himself alive has.  Since millions of hunters now find fewer and harder to reach hunting areas, they all can’t enjoy hunting as much as they once did. So they’ve turned into trapshooters.

 Another reason to shoot trap is people of all ages and income groups can compete.  Nine year-olds shoot alongside of 90 year-olds.   Many of the 70 year-olds have been shooting in the sport for 55 years and some may have just started.  Trapshooting appeal is to the competitive man and woman.  Physical disabilities do not disqualify a would-be shooter.

 There are several one armed shooters and people in wheel chairs who carry quite respectable averages.  A particular paralyzed shooter who I know shoots from a wheel chair.  He has won many state and national trophies even being considered physically handicapped by conventional standards.  He and his fellow “chairshooters” are not given any special consideration and would not want it.

 The competitive, individual nature of the sport attracts those who apply the same principles to their lives.  They are successful in their chosen businesses and usually are well known in their communities.  What they do, either at the local club or halfway across the country from their homes, it is news.   From these shooters are chosen the marksmen who represent the United States at the World Championships and in the Olympic Games.

 You can begin shooting today at your local trap club.  So come on, give it a shot.   Who knows you may be the next team, school, city, county, state, national, world, or Olympic champion?

        Section 2 of 3, When you go to a Registered Shoot:

             To participate in an ATA registered shoot, you must present a current ATA membership card, life membership, annual membership, or a receipt for an ATA application.  Later on a member will receive two cards by mail.  A paper one which the member’s scores and handicap yardage are recorded on and a plastic card, which aids in sign up.

             The average card is punched with a minimum yardage from which the shooter must compete.  The card also provides space for entering scores, the 16-yard average, and the doubles averages.  This card must be kept up to date.

             Present the average card and the plastic card when making an entry at a registered shoot.  Classification is first to be visited.  Be sure that the cashier records you correct name, address, and membership number on the card.  If any of the information on your cards is incorrect or not current, the forms are available from the cashier to correct the data.  If you earn yardage you must have your average card punched before you leave the shoot.  It is your responsibility. Get an ATA RULEBOOK and read it.

             The ATA RULEBOOK will clear up all mysteries.  Spend quite a bit of time familiarizing yourself with it.  If you do not understand something, ask a club member or the ATA delegate.  Read programs thoroughly; they very greatly from club to club. 

             The ATA RULEBOOK can save you targets, if you get to know it.  For instance, it is your responsibility to check your score after every five shots.  Before you move to the next post.  Scores cannot be changed once the shooter has moved and no corrections made after 5 shots.

             Check the scoreboard to make sure your name, address, classification, yardage, scores and events are scored properly.  If something needs to be corrected sooner is better than later.  If a score is in question asked to have it checked for you.  The person on the scoreboard will appreciate your polite questioning and corrections.

             If you discover an error on a cashier’s sheet when it is posted, report it immediately to the cashier.  Do it quickly before the complete shoot report is completed.

Section 3 of 3, Glossary

 To help make the best of the game, here are some words that pertain to trapshooting and what they mean.

All-Around:  championship at the tournament based on the combined scores of championship targets.  200 singles, 100 handicap, and 100 doubles. 

ATA:  commonly used abbreviation for the Amateur Trapshooting Association. 

Amateur Trapshooting Association: governing body of registered trapshooting in the U.S. and Canada with permanent headquarters at Vandalia, Ohio.  To compete in an ATA-regulated event, the shooter must be a member of the Amateur Trapshooting Association.  There are two classifications of memberships.  Life and annual memberships are available.  Memberships are available only to individuals, no clubs.

 Automatic or Autoloader: a variety of repeating or magazine feed shotgun where energy of the first shot is used to recock the gun for a second shot.  The trigger must be pulled separately for each shot.  Shotgun like this maybe used for doubles. Also could be a description of the target throwing machine in the traphouse.


Average:  the percentage of targets the shooter has hit out of total shot at.  Used for handicapping and classifying purposes, so shooters can shoot against shooters of their own ability. 

Average Book: yearly book compiled by the ATA listing all singles, handicap, and doubles averages of each member who shot during the preceding year.   

Back-yardage:  positions in handicap shooting from the 24 to 27 yards behind the trapshooting.  The first man in ATA history to be handicapped to the 27 yard line was Merle Stockdale, Ackley, Iowa(1912-1992).  The event record event was in 1955. 

Blue rock or rock: the target.  Carryover of nomenclature from live-bird shooting, which often used the European blue rock variety of pigeon.  White flyer is also a carry over from live bird shooting describing a white pigeon.  White pigeons, like chickens are usually associated with being something that is easier to hit because they are easy to see, big and slow.  They also blow up pretty good. 

Broken target: a) one that comes out of the traphouse 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 dead. 

Call:  signal given by a shooter for the release of the target.  Usually the word “pull,” but any sound will do and may be used. 

Carryover:  method of deciding ties where shooters’ scores on the next event determine the winner after a tie in the previous event.

the person, who takes the entries of participants, calculates winners, purse winnings, etc. 

Chip:  a) verb, to only break a small piece from a target. b) Noun, a small piece of the target. 

Choke:  constriction in the bore of a gun near the muzzle to restrict the spread of the shot.  Most trapgun use a full choke.  A full choke will put 70% of the shot inside a 30-inch circle at 40 yards.  Also a verb describing a fantasy action that could be associated with target setting, camping spots, and gun club management. 

Classification:  a system of dividing shooters into classes or groups based on previous shooting ability, so the shooters may compete more equally. 

Clay, Clay target or Clay pigeon: is the target 

Dead:  the term for a target broken by the shooter.  The target must have apiece broken from it by the shot large enough to be visible to the scorer, or the target may be completely reduced to powder by the shot.  The term is carried over form live-pigeon shooting.  Dead target or dead bird is one that can be carried back for scoring.  Then of course, a missed live target would fly away, so the target that you once owned would now be lost. See lost target.   

Doubles:  one of the three varieties of events in trapshooting.  The shooter stands 16 yards from the traphouse and fires twice, once at each of the two targets that are released simultaneously.  Doubles are really a lot of fun because you can shoot the event twice as fast.  Get it over with twice as quick and get back to your camper/motel/home twice as fast.

Double gun:  a gun with two barrels arranged either side by side or over/under. 

Down:  the number of targets a shooter lost from a perfect score.  If a shooter has 71 dead birds out of 75, he is down four. 

Dropped:  refers to missed targets.  He dropped two. 

Dusted target:  a target from which only a puff of dust appears when hit.  Not scored as a hit. 

Dutched pair:  in doubles, this is a pair in which both targets are missed.

Earned yardage:  the additional yardage a shooter receives for his high handicap scores in specific shoots or for his high average at the end of the year. 

Earplug: a device used for holding your brains from spilling all over the side walk. A feeling you get for missing the first bird out, last bird for a 99, or a straight a way off post three.  A shooter once asked me for a tweezers, because his earplug fell in and he could not pull it out.

Empty:  a shell cashing which had been fired.  Collected by shooters for the purpose of reloading.  Check book, bank account, wallet after 10 days at the Grand American.

Entries:  the number of shooters in a specific event. 

Events:  usually a whole competition, an event of 100 targets. 

Fast pull:  a target release before the shooter calls.  Shooter is not required to shoot, but result is scored if a shot is fired. 

Failure to fire:  a small “F” is scored on the score sheet meaning the shooter did not fire at a target for any reason.  Shooter is allowed one failure to fire in singles per sub event and two per sub event in doubles.  The shooter is allowed to shoot again.

Field:  the trap field.  Refers to the entire layout of a traprange. 

Flinch: an involuntary muscular action or inaction of a shooter preventing him from shooting and or hitting the target.  The shooters score will be a lost target. 

Gauge:  the size of shotgun used.  Most used gauge in trapshooting is 12 gauge.

Grand:  the annual national tournament held in Vandalia, Ohio. 

Handicap:  one of the three varieties of events in trapshooting.  Single targets are shot at by shooters standing a minimum of 18 and a maximum of 27 yards back of the trap.  The distance a shooter stands from the trap, which depends on his previous record and known ability.

Handicap card:  a card issued by the ATA and carried by each shooter showing the yardage from which he is to shoot.  The shooter must have shot  the minimum of targets before he is assigned a permanent yardage card.  The card is punched to indicate additional yards a shooter earns as provided for in the rule book.  Also called an average card. 

High-over-all:  a championship based on the combined score of all the targets in a program over several days.

 Hull:  the outside of a shotgun shell.

 Illegal targets: targets thrown at distances and angles, which do not meet the specifications in the rulebook.  Shooters are allowed to refuse an illegal target and call for another.  If the shooter fires at an illegal target the results must be scored.

any shooter who is has not reached their 18th birthday.

 Load: a) verb to place a shell in the gun, birds in the traphouse, birds on the machine.b) Description of the shotgun shell. 

Lost:  the term for a target missed completely or only “dusted”.  Term carried over from live-bird shooting.  The live bird that the shooter missed would no longer be their possession. It flew away. The term lost, describing  that heart breaking event of a lost bird is still used today. 

Malfunction:  a term applied only to doubles shooting.  It means the failure of the gun to shoot a second shot of doubles.  There are no malfunctions in singles or handicap events. 

Marathon:  usually 500 plus of the same targets shot in one day. 

Misfire:  a shell in which the primer fails to fire when struck by the firing pin. 

No bird: the call given by the referee when the shooter does not have to fire at a target, or when the target exits the house broken.

No pout rule: inter squad  rules established by squad members regarding the specific amount of time allowable for pouting by squad members after breaking bad scores.  Squad members establish rules that will determine allowable time length and behavior of the pout.  All pouting will be ended before the next event.  The new event and pout rule of that new event will apply.  Pouting can be carried over from multiple events shot concurrently, but usually the carried over pouting times are shorten, and must be completely used up by the end of the tournament.  Pouting times cannot be "banked" for carry over to the next week's tournament.

Non-registered:  any shot not scheduled by the ATA, scores shot in practice, shoot offs, or at unregistered shoots. 

Non-resident:  any shooter not a resident of the area concerned. 

No shootin bitch: a shooter who arrives at a trapshoot then decides not to shoot, but stays at the event and complains.  Usually the shooter does not shoot because of the wind, but could be a number of reasons. Sometimes the complainer will talk other shooters out of shooting also.  A no shootin bitch should say home.

No-target: term which covers a number instances all specified in the rulebook.  Same as a no bird. b) what a puller or referee says if a shooter is not shooting from their correct position, and not throw a target until he moves. 

Open or out:  a safety term meaning the action of the gun must be open at all times everywhere on the grounds or you will be ejected from the gun club.  Exception is when it is your turn on the line to shoot, or when placing a break open gun in the gun rack. 

Open Trophy:  one awarded to a shooter regardless of residence. 

Outlaw:  an illegal target.  A target that doesn’t meet specifications.  A target that flies outside the specified areas covered in the rulebook.

Over/under: a variety of two barreled guns with one barrel over the other. 

Pair:  the two targets thrown simultaneously in doubles shooting. 

Pattern:  the spread of the shot and the area it covers. 

Penalty yardage:  the yardage assigned to shooters who have not met the minimum target specifications for proper classification to shoot with shooters of their own ability. 

Pigeon: a target

Porting: holes drilled towards the end of a shotgun barrel so the air escaping the barrel ahead of the shot reduces the upward barrel travel.  This limiting of upward barrel jump results in less recoil to the shooter. 

Post, peg, or position:  one of the five positions from which the shooter stands while shooting.  Post is a term carried over from the days before shooting attire was invented.  Shooter used to store their shells, or components on the top of a  post between shots.  Now shooters have shell bags and shooting vests etc.. to hold shells between shots. 

Pull:  command usually used by shooters to call for the target.  Term pull stuck from the days when the trapshooting machines where not electric.  Usually a man operated a long lever from behind the shooters.  The lever was connected to the machine in the traphouse using an inner and outer pipe.  When he cocked the long lever forward and backward it cocked the throwing arm and selected a new angle at random.  Pulling the lever back to a detent or hard spot would mean it was ready to throw another target.  Shooter yelled pull, man pulled lever. 

Puller:  the person who releases the target from the trap.  Often also are the scorer and ref.

Pump gun:  A variety of repeating or magazine gun in which the shooter operates the reloading mechanism after each shot by pumping it. 

Registered shoots:  shoots carrying the official sanction of the ATA and shot under its rules.  Scores made in them are recorded in the official records.  Registered trapshooting is the major league of trapshooting. 

Release trigger or relaxing trigger: a trigger designed to fire the gun when pressure on the trigger is release instead of pulled.  A common prescription for flinching. 

Reload:  a shell that has been reloaded.

Reloader:  a machine that reloads shells. 

Round: 25 or now a 50 targets in single or handicap, or 10 to 25 pair of doubles. 

Runner-up: shooter who wins the second place trophy in a shoot.  The shooter could have tied with the high score and lost the shootoff or could have shot the next best to the winning score. 

Scorer:  the person who judges whether the target has been broken, dead or missed. 

Shell:  actually the cartridge casing containing the powder, shot etc.  In common usage, the complete, loaded cartridge used. 

Shoot: a) noun an entire tournament, as the shoot lasted ten days.  b) verb to fire the gun or to participate in the race. 

Shootoff:  method of deciding ties in which shooters fire another event.

Shot:  the pellets fired at the target.  Called chilled shot from the manufacturing process of dropping lead from a tower into cold water.  Shot consists of lead hardened by antimony.  No. 7.5 and no. 8 shot are commonly used and have diameters of .095 and .090 inches respectively.  They’re about 395 and 460 pellets in a load of these sizes. 

Single gun or single: a gun capable of holding only one shot. 

Singles, 16-yard singles, or 16 yard:  one of the three varieties of events in trapshooting.  Single targets are shot at by shooters standing 16 yards back of the trap.  One shot fired for each target. 

Slow pull:  a target released at a noticeable interval after the call is given.  Shooter is not required to shoot, but if he does the result will be scored.

Smoke: to hit the target so hard it disintegrates into a puff of smoke. 

Squad: a group of shooters, five or less, who shoot together at one trap.

Squad sheet:  the score sheet on which is marked the result of each shot fired by every member of the squad on one field.  By regulation, it must be larger enough so that all of the shooters on that field can see their scores without moving from their shooting positions. 

Straight:  the breaking of all the targets in an event, usually 25.  Longer straight usually specify the number of targets in the event, like 200 straight. 

Sub event:  a number of shots fired on a traprange scored on one score sheet.  A sub event is 25 or 50 targets shot on one range, or 50 doubles shot on one range. 

Sub-junior:   any shooter who has not reached his 15th birthday. 

Target, clay target, clay pigeon, blue rock, rock, clay:  the target shot at in trap.  An inverted saucer shaped object, generally made of powdered limestone and pitch.  Regulations specify it is 4 5/16” in diameter, 1 1/8” high and weights 3 ½ ounces.  Usually made to be handled from storage then directly to the trap machine for launching.  The target should fly straight and level and be easily broken by a trap shot gun shell load.  Basically a single use product.  If you can reuse this product, you probably should not be throwing that brand at your next registered trapshoot if you have concerns about attendance.

Target Setter, Trap setting committee:
one who makes the targets fly with in the rules of the ATA flight and angles.  The idea is to make all the targets the same for all shooters regardless of what field they compete at.  Target setters listen to all the reasons why shooters miss targets, because it really is their fault that shooters miss targets.  Usually the target setter will get up early in morning before the events to adjust and view the targets, then drives a golf cart the rest of the day.

Telephonic Shoot:  A single trapshooting tournament that is scheduled to be held on the same date at more than one location.  Contestants will compete for awards of cash, and or prizes and or honor at a location of their choice.  The results of the constants will be then telephoned, and or faxed, and or emailed to each location for compilation.  Overall or grand winners will be determined from the data and awarded at the appropriate locations.  Tying scores could be settled by contestants shooting extra events at their locations.

Trap:  a) noun  the mechanism used to propel the target.  Name derived from the boxes or traps used in live pigeon shooting. b) term used to designate trapfield, as “Squad 5 is on trap 4” 

Trap gun:  guns usually used for trapshooting.  A specialized gun usually has a longer and high stock.  Ventilated ribs and recoil pad with a slightly higher point of impact.  A trapgun has to fire one shell or two shells at the most.  Unlike Indy or Formula one auto racing, the money spent on a trap gun has on correlation with the scores one would expect.

Trapboy:  the person who places the target on the machine.  Commonly includes all the help who operate the trap line. 

Traphouse:  a below ground structure 16 yards in front of the station #3 in which is housed the machine, and a supply of targets.

Trapshooter: one who enjoys the competition and serious concentration required to compete in game designed for shotgun shooting. 

Trapshooting:  shooting at a clay target released at unexpected angles from a low traphouse directly in front of the shooter. A highly additive form of entertainment that usually takes on a life of it's own and becomes more important life or death.

Veteran:  a shooter who is 65 years or older.

Senior Veteran: a shooter that is older than a veteran and by now ought to know better.