Shotgun target sports date back to England in the late 1700′s when “box shooting” used live pigeons released from box traps with a pull cord, thus we have today’s popular call of “Pull!” requesting the release of the target. The first formal trap shoot took place in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1831, using live birds. With the advent of glass ball targets, and eventually clay disc targets, the sport began to take on the popular form of the game known today as Trap. American Trap uses a single target launcher, or trap, that oscillates left to right, launching a single clay target, or bird. The shooters position themselves on one of five shooting positions or stations. Each shooter shoots five shots from his current station, then the squad rotates to the next station. Each shooter shoots five shots from five stations.
The game of Skeet came along later. It was invented in Massachusetts in 1920, by a man hoping to improve his wing-shooting abilities. There have been many refinements to the game of Skeet since that time. Typically American Skeet is the variety played in the United States. In Skeet, only one shooter holds the shooting position at a time. Each shooter shoots a sequence of birds from 8 stations from a “high house” and a “low house.” These “houses ” are simply structures that hold the traps, or target launchers.
While Sporting Clays has its roots in Trap and Skeet, it is a completely different game with its own set of rules. The game is played over a course that may feature varying terrain with several different target presentations from different locations with varying flight paths. While Sporting Clays was originally designed to simulate live game scenarios, it has evolved into a sport all its own. The game is played on a course, made up of stations. Each station features a shooting stand for the participant to shoot from. Upon the shooter’s call, targets are released.
Targets can be thrown as single targets, simultaneous pairs, or report pairs where the second target is launched upon the report of the shot at the first target. Unlike Trap and Skeet, there are a variety of specialty targets in Sporting Clays in addition to the 108mm Standard targets. These include 90mm MIDI targets, 60mm MINI targets, rabbits that roll and bounce on edge, battues that arc, and rockets that are heavy and maintain speed. In addition, the presentation of the targets vary, which is to say they may be thrown crossing from one side to the other, quartering away, quartering in, inbound, outbound, overhead, underfoot, or straight up in the air. It is the variety of targets, target presentations, course layouts and terrain that many find so enjoyable about Sporting Clays. While Trap in Denver is the same as Trap in Boston, and Skeet in Tallahassee is the same as Skeet in Sioux Falls; Sporting Clays is never the same game twice.