Trapshooting is a specific form of clay target shooting. Trapshooting is a game of movement, action, and split-second timing. It requires the accuracy and skill to repeatedly aim, fire, and break the 4 1/4 inch disc which are hurled through the air at a speed of 42mph, simulating the flight path of a bird fleeing a hunter. Trapshooting’s continual growth and expanding popularity is due to the fact that people of all ages, incomes, and abilities can compete. Nine year old boys shoot alongside 90 year old men. Many 70-year olds have been in the sport 55 years and some began just two years ago. Trapshooting’s participants include millionaires, hourly wage earners, inventors, businessmen, former sports figures in other fields, professional men, farmers, truck drivers, musicians, actors, students, and housewives. The shooter is required to shoot at a target after he calls pull. It does not matter in scoring if the shooter hits only a small piece of the target or whether he shatters the target. The target is considered a dead or lost bird. If the target is hit it is dead. It is the shooter’s responsibility to check his own score. Registered trapshooting is a competition that is regulated by the Amateur Trapshooting Association. Gun clubs hold shoots in accordance with ATA rules, but they must apply and register for each shoot. All participants of these shoots must be ATA members. The shooter’s scores are recorded in the ATA office where all records are kept and yearly averages computed. The records are used for handicapping and classifying shooters. In registered trapshooting the rules specify that targets must be thrown no less than 48 yards, no more than 52 yards, should be between 8 and 12 feet high, and 10 yards from the trap. Shooters stand a minimum of 16 yards from the trap houses.

Trapshooting Disciplines


Singles trap is considered to be the easiest of the three disciplines. In singles, the shooter stands 16 yards away from the center of the “trap house” and shoots at random targets that fly at various angles in front of him/ her. Shooters are grouped into squads, usually made up of up to five people. There are five positions that each shooter shoots from, for a total of five shots, or one round. This gives participants a different view of the target flying through the air. Each position is a constant 16 yards from the trap house; each one is spaced three feet apart forming a small arc.


Handicap trap is considered the most prestigious event in trapshooting. As in other sports, handicapping strives to make the competition equal. This is accomplished by having the more skilled competitors stand further away from the trap house. Based on a shooter’s past performances, a shooter is assigned a handicap distance from which he/she must shoot. A competitor with a high handicap will shoot no closer than the 18 yard line, while the most skilled shooter is placed at the 27 yard line.


Doubles trap was added to tournament play in 1911. It is a modified version of Singles, but it is more difficult because shooters must break two targets fired from the trap house simultaneously. One clay pigeon flies to the left while the other flies to the right. The target path remains constant, but the challenge is if the shooter can hit both targets before they hit the ground. Each target is scored individually, not as a pair.


Wobble trap is a variation of singles trap. The main difference is that the machine oscilates left and right as well as up and down, making the targets flight path more random. The shooter gets two shots at each target. Wobble trap is commonly used by shooters who do not have access to a Bunker trap to practice.