Smoking a streaking clay target is the most popular recreational use of shotguns. While many games and variations exist, three are far and away the most popular in America today.
This is the oldest shotgun game; the first clay targets and the traps to throw them appeared around 1880. It’s shot on a clear field with a single trap house, which is partially buried in the ground and throws targets that rise and move away from the shooter, much like flushing pheasant, quail, and other upland birds. The trap is set to oscillate between throws, which creates random targets that can appear at various angles to the shooter.
While trap mimics birds flushing away from the gunner, it does little to prepare you for incoming and crossing targets. So in 1900, three Massachusetts wingshooters, who got tired of missing game birds in the field, changed the target array and target thrower locations to create skeet, now played on a field with eight stations, allowing a range of angles.
The newest clay target game is not the rigidly programmed and predictable clay target affair we find in trap and skeet. Perfect scores are virtually unheard of. This game is normally played in the woods, and the targets the shooter will see are only limited by the imagination of the course designer. Targets zip by at speeds and angles unseen in the other two games. They may be single targets, two targets thrown at the same time, or a target thrown after the shot report of the shooter’s gun addresses the first target thrown. Those targets may also be crossing, climbing straight up, falling straight down, quartering out or in, streaking high overhead coming in or going away, or even bouncing along the ground.
Spice Up Trap and Skeet:
If the standard games of trap and skeet get boring, you can try shooting the doubles version of each. Doubles trap consists of two targets launched simultaneously from each station. This time, the trap is set to send targets on a consistent flight path of 22 degrees right and 22 degrees left. From each position, one becomes a straightaway shot and the other an extreme angle. A round of doubles is 50 shells. It’s fast-paced and fun. Doubles skeet uses only stations 1 through 7. Two targets are thrown at each station, with the shooter starting at station 1 and moving through to station 7, and then back through the stations to reach 1 again—and finally, finishing at station 2. Some of the doubles are no different than in a regular round, but the pair of targets thrown on stations 3, 5 and 7 create a new and challenging situation.