Trap Shooting

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Trap shooting

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


An image of the typical trap shoot line at an amateur event.

Trap shooting is one of the two major forms of competitive shotgun shooting at clay targets (the other is Skeet shooting). There are many versions including Olympic Trap, Double Trap (which is also an Olympic event), Nordic Trap, and several national versions such as American Trap.

The sport is in some ways a replacement for a game where the targets were live pigeons. Indeed, one of the names for the clay targets used in shooting games is clay pigeons. The layout of modern trap shooting is different from skeet shooting in that there is only one house that releases targets and the shooters only move through 5 different positions.

Trap shooting has been a sport since at least 1793 when it used real birds, usually the then-extremely abundant Passenger Pigeon. Fake birds were introduced around the time of the American Civil War as the Passenger Pigeon was nearing extinction and sufficient numbers were not reliably available. Clay targets were introduced in the 1880's.

International versions

Main articles: Olympic Trap and Double Trap

Olympic Trap is one of the ISSF shooting events, introduced to the Olympic program in 1900. The course of fire is 125 shots for men and 75 shots for women. There is also a 25-shot final for the top six competitors.

Double Trap is a relatively new Trap form, Olympic since 1996 (from 2008 it has Olympic status only for men), where two targets are thrown simultaneously but at different angles.

Regionally and nationally recognized versions

In the Nordic countries and Great Britain (which is part of the Nordic Shooting Region), a form of Trap formerly known as Hunter's Trap and now as Nordic Trap is popular. It is easier than the Olympic version.

American Trap is popular in the United States and different from Olympic Trap. Official events and rules are governed by the Amateur Trap Shooting Association or ATA. The ATA also runs the Grand American Trap Shoot Championship in Vandalia, Ohio.

American trap is broken down into three categories: 16 yd singles, 16 yd doubles and, handicap which is shot between 19 and 27 yds. In singles each shooter takes one shot at five targets in each of the five positions in sequence and is shot while standing 16 yards back from the trap house. The trap rotates back and forth so it is impossible to know which way the target is going to come out. Handicap is the same as singles but shot from further away. You start at the 20 yd line and work your way back as your average improves over time. Extra yardages may be given if you win a championship or other major event. No two shooters on the same squad should have a difference of more than three yards between them. Doubles is shot from 16 yards and the trap is fixed to fire straight away with the left and right targets appearing to state away when standing between positions 4 & 5; and 1 & 2, respectively. Two targets are thrown at the same time and you get one shot per target. There is no second shot on any target in American trap singles or handicap.

When shooting American trap for practice or fun a squad of five will shoot 25 targets each for a total of 125. Registered ATA shoots require shooters to shoot 100 targets per squad and they are allowed to shoot as many squads as they wish during non event shoots. Most of these shoots are for your personal average or handicap yardage. In order to qualify for the Grand a shooter must shoot a minimum of 2000 singles, 1500 doubles, and 2000 handicap targets in a year.

American Trap uses similar targets as Olympic Trap, but they are thrown at a slower speed.

A variant of standard trap is Wobble or Wobble Trap. The main differences are a much more extreme target flight path than in standard Trap shooting, shooters are allowed two shots per pull, and shooters at stations 1 and 5 stand at the 18 yard mark while positions 2-4 stand at the 17 yard mark. Although this version of trap is not sanctioned by the ATA, many shooters consider it to be both more challenging and engaging as well as a more realistic preparation for bird hunting. More experienced shooters will often shoot from the Skeet positions to increase the difficulty.

Arms and equipment

Trap is generally shot with a 12 ga. mono (such as the Browning BT-99) or double barrel shotgun, but can be shot with any smaller bore gun (16, 20, or 28 ga). Shooters will often buy a combo-set of a mono and stack barrel gun for shooting singles and doubles respectively. Semi-autos are popular due to the low recoil, but they are generally frowned upon by other shooters if they are not equipped with a shell catcher. Trap-specific guns are normally a manufacturer’s top of the line model and often embellished with engraving or inlay work and higher grades of wood. Trap guns differ from field and skeet guns in several ways and normally shoot higher than their counterparts as the targets are almost always shot on the rise. The most obvious difference is in the stocks; they are normally Monte Carlo or have an adjustable cheek piece, an adjustable butt plate, or both. Such changes make for effectively no drop at the heel. Such guns also have long barrels (from 28 to 34 inches), often with porting, and a full choke is generally preferred.

American trap is shot with lead target ammo only, with a shot size between 7 ˝ and 9. Twelve gauge ammo should have no more than 3 dram equivalent of powder and no more than 1 1/8 oz of shot. Maximum loads are generally only needed for long handicap or the second doubles shot.

Most shooters wear a vest or belt that will hold 25 cartridges with a second pocket for the spent shells.

Trap etiquette

American Trap shooting, more so than other shooting disciplines, including international trap, develops a certain rhythm to a squad timing between shots. The manners of any other squad member(s) can affect the performance of individuals within a squad. Shell catchers are a must for anyone using a semi-automatic - a shell hitting you in the head or arm can certainly disrupt your concentration. Most shooters also carry a few extra shells in case they drop one. It is better not to pick up any dropped shell, or other item, until after the 5th shooter has fired his 5th shot of the station and the squad is about to rotate to the next position. Idle chatting between shots, vulgar calls, and unnecessary movement can be generally disruptive. Things are considerably more relaxed during a practice squad, but one should use some discretion.

Commands from the scorer and other shooters are as important to squad timing as the behaviors of the shooters on the squad. To start a squad the shooter will ask if the squad and puller are ready, followed by asking to see one free target and his first target. The scorer will call missed targets with a command of: loss, lost, etc. When the first shooter has fired his final shot of the position the scorer will sometimes call “end” and will command “all change” after fifth shooter has fired his last shot. The shooter on position five then moves behind the rest of the shooters on his way to the first station and will signal when he is ready to the First shooter who is now on station two. The call for a target is “pull.”




Interesting reading about trap at:


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