1. What are Shooting Sports?

Date: 20 September 2022
Shooting Sport

What are Shooting Sports?

Why do women not compete in sports that men are predominant in? Well, here is why!  This Blog is a 7- to 10-minute read.

Shooting sports is a collective group of competitive and recreational sporting activities involving proficiency tests of accuracy, precision and speed in shooting — the art of using various types of ranged firearms, mainly referring to man-portable guns (firearms and airguns, in forms such as handgunsrifles and shotguns) and bows/crossbows.

Different disciplines of shooting sports can be categorized by equipment, shooting distances, targetstime limits and degrees of athleticism involved. Shooting sports may involve both team and individual competition, and team performance is usually assessed by summing the scores of the individual team members. Due to the noise of shooting and the high (and often lethal) impact energy of the projectiles, shooting sports are typically conducted at either designated permanent shooting ranges or temporary shooting fields in the area away from settlements.


Under this banner, we are going to speak about:

  • Trap
  • Skeet
  • Sporting Clays Shooting


What is TRAP Shooting exactly?


Trap shooting is one of the three major disciplines of competitive clay pigeon shooting (shooting shotguns at clay targets). The other disciplines are skeet shooting and sporting clays. They are distinguished roughly as follows, with variations within each group:

  • In trap shooting, the targets are launched from a single “house” or machine, generally away from the shooter.
  • In skeet shooting, targets are launched from two houses in somewhat sideways paths that intersect in front of the shooter.
  • Sporting clays include a more complex course, with many launch points.


Here is some interesting reading about the differences:


Officially referred to only as trap, and also known in the United States as international trapbunker traptrench or international clay pigeon, the single-target Olympic trap shooting event has a history of more than a hundred years. It is considered more difficult than most other trap versions in that the distance to the targets and the speed with which they are thrown are both greater.

Until 1992, the Olympic trap event was open to both men and women. In 1996, it was open to men only, and from 2000 men and women have had separate competitions.

The course of fire is 125 targets in the qualification round for both men and women since 2018. In 2005, the final rules were changed so that only one shot can be taken at each target, as opposed to two in the qualification round.

Competition event will consist of shooting two 25 target rounds for a total of 50 targets from the 16-yard station. Up to five athletes (squad) will occupy the stations on a trap field. Station one is assigned the “squad leader”.


Trap Field

The trap field is the area of a shooting range where trap shooting occurs. Each field contains shooting stations (typically concrete walkways with yardage markers) and a trap house.

The trap house is the structure in front of the stations from which the clay targets are launched. Only facility personnel shall enter and maintain the trap house. A cone or flag will be displayed when the trap house requires maintenance and shooters are required to exit their shooting station and make firearms safe until the trap house maintenance is completed and the cone or flag is removed.


Targets At Each Station

Five shots are taken at each of the five stations. After the first five shots are completed by the entire squad, each shooter will move to a new station by:

  • Verifying the gun is unloaded.
  • With the chamber open and the shotgun pointed in a safe direction, rotate in a clockwise manner to the next station.
  • Station one will move to station two, two to three, three to four, four to five, and five to one.
  • Station five will rotate to their right moving away from the station four shooter who is moving to station five and continue to walk behind the other shooters to station one.
  • Await the “START” command from the scorekeeper.
  • The squad leader is the first to shoot in each round.
  • Repeat process until all shooters have each shot 25 targets.
  • No shooter will move to the next station until the last target in a round is completed.


Trap shooting dates to the 18th century and it is the oldest practiced shotgun sport in the USA.  It is one of the most popular disciplines in competitive Clay Shooting.

In Trap, shooters stand in a line and aim at targets which are launched from a station placed partially underground.

The target is released at a speed of approximately 65 km per hour and usually moves away from its release point.

In Trap, there are five stations and the same number of shooters who alternate their positions so that they complete a firing from each target.

There are three different events in Trap. These are:

  1. Singles
  2. Doubles
  3. Handicap

In Singles, one clay bird is released from the station, in Doubles two clay birds are released simultaneously and in Handicap one bird is released but from various distances.

Each shooter has 25 rounds which means they will shoot five times from each station.


The Guns in Trap Shooting


Trap shooting is typically shot with a 12 gauge shotgun. Smaller gauge firearms (e.g. 16, 20, 28 gauge) can be used, but no allowance is given. Trap shooting is shot at either single or double target presentations. This refers to the number of clay targets which are launched simultaneously.

Both general purpose shotguns and more specialized target-type shotguns are used in trap shooting, and may be double-barreled or single-barreled. Shooters who shoot all sub-events will often buy a combination-set of a single and double barrel for shooting both singles and double targets respectively. Self-loading (semi-automatic shotguns) are popular for recreational shooting due to the lower perceived recoil and versatility because they can be used for singles, handicap, and doubles. Shotguns used in trap shooting can differ from field and skeet guns in several ways and normally are designed with a higher “point of impact” as the targets are intended to be shot as they rise.


SKEET Shooting

What is Skeet Shooting?


Skeet shooting is a recreational and competitive activity where participants, using shotguns, attempt to break clay targets mechanically flung into the air from two fixed stations at high speed from a variety of angles.[1]

Skeet is one of the three major disciplines of competitive clay pigeon shooting. The others are trap shooting and sporting clays. There are several types of skeet, including one with Olympic status (often called Olympic skeet or international skeet) and many with only national recognition.

The Skeet Field

Today’s skeet field varies little from its 1920 beginnings. It has eight shooting stations and two trap houses. Seven of the stations are arranged in a half moon between the two trap houses, and one station is directly between them. The high house, on the left side of the field, throws its targets from a trap 10 feet above the ground. The target rises to a height of 15 feet by the time it travels to the center of the field. The low house target, on the right side, leaves the trap house just 3-1/2 feet from the ground. It also rises to a height of 15 feet by the time it reaches the center of the field.

A Round of Skeet

A round of skeet consists of 25 targets, with 17 shot as singles and 8 as doubles. The first miss is repeated immediately and is called an option. If no targets are missed during the round, the last or 25th target is shot at the last station, low house 8. The shooting sequence is as follows:

  • Stations 1 and 2: High house single; Low house single; High house/Low house pair
  • Stations 3, 4, and 5: High house single; Low house single
  • Stations 6 and 7: High house single; Low house single; Low house/High house pair
  • Station 8: High house single; Low house single


Skeet is shot in squads of up to five shooters. They move from station to station around the half moon, ending up in the center, at the end of the round.

Any gauge shotgun may be used, of any type, as long as it can fire at least two shots. The preferred shot size is #9, but nothing larger than 7-1/2 should ever be used. Since strength is not a factor, women are able to compete equally with men. Left handed shooters do just as well as right.


History of the sport

Clay target shooting has been around for hundreds of years and has, in time, developed considerably. It is a common and widely practiced sport, especially in the USA, New Zealand, Australia and England.

Initially the sport was a method for hunters to keep active off season, but it has evolved into a popular competitive sport.

The terminology used to refer to the sport and its manifestation dates to earlier times when live birds were the target.

The practice of shooting living birds was made illegal worldwide around 1920s. The target was eventually replaced with a clay object, called a clay pigeon.

Skeet and Trap shooting have been included in the Summer Olympic Games since 1886. In early 1900s the living pigeon was removed and replaced by the clay pigeon.


The target

The original targets for clay shooting sport were live pigeons that were released from boxes or hats. Eventually glass balls were added in to supplement the animated targets.

In 1880 George Ligowsk invented the clay pigeon which is still used as a target today.  The main reason for Ligowsk’s invention seems to have been the difficulty of providing enough live pigeons.

Clay pigeon targets are shaped like an inverted saucer. They are made from a mixture of chalk and pitch. The target is designed to withstand being launched from a station but to also shatter into pieces when hit by the shooter. They come in variety of colors but the most used ones are either fluorescent orange or black.

Because the sport is based on the shooting of live birds, the targets must fly in a pattern and at a speed that mimics that of a released bird.


Skeet is the shooting of targets launched from two posts. The participants in skeet usually use a shotgun to shoot the clay pigeon.

The set-up is typically in a field and there are eight stations, which are all numbered. The exercise usually unfolds within a group of five shooters, who move around a semi-circular field between the stations in a sequent manner.

Two machines release targets. A low house releases the targets from three feet off the ground while a high house releases the targets from ten feet off the ground.

The target moves at approximately 72 km per hour and at a variety of angles.

Each participant first shoots at a target originating from the low house, then a target originating from the high house.

A common practice in Skeet is double shooting. In this case, targets are released from both houses simultaneously and the shooter must fire two shots. The double release of the target is usually only done at four out of the five stations.

A round of skeet includes twenty-five shots.


The Guns In Skeet Shooting

The firearm of choice for this task is usually a high-quality, double-barrelled over and under shotgun with 26- to 30-inch barrels and very open chokes. Often, shooters will choose an improved cylinder choke (one with a tighter pattern) or a skeet choke (one with a wider pattern), but this is a matter of preference. Some gun shops refer to this type of shotgun as a skeet gun. Skeet chokes are designed to be a 30 inches (760 mm) circle at 21 yards (19 m) yards distance. Alternatively, a sporting gun or a trap gun is sometimes used. These have longer barrels (up to 34  inches) and tighter choke. Many shooters of American skeet and other national versions use semi-automatic shotguns and break-open over-and-under shotguns.


The differences between Skeet and Trap Shooting 

Skeet shooting has eight stations while Trap has five.

In Trap, the participants shoot five times from each station while in Skeet, they move clockwise to each station and take their shots, based on how many targets are released.

In Skeet shooting there are two machines above ground that release targets from different heights. In Trap, the targets are released from almost underground level.

In Trap, the targets usually move away from the shooter while in Skeet, they move either towards or away from the shooter.

In Skeet shooting the clay target moves at a speed of approximately 72 km per hour and in Trap shooting it moves at around 65 km per hour

There are two procedures in Skeet and three in Trap.


Skeet Shooting

There are eight shooting stations in Skeet.

The participants take two shots from all the stations, and three from four out of the five.

There are two machines that release targets from different heights.

The clay target moves at a speed of approximately 72 km per hour


Trap Shooting

There are five shooting stations in Trap

The participants take five shots from each station.

There is one machine that releases targets, situated very closed to the ground.

The clay target moves at a speed of approximately 65 km per hour


Summary Points

years and have progressed a lot since then. From being a training exercise for hunters to keep fit off the hunting season they are now both Olympic and competitive sports.

In the beginning, live birds were used as targets but in the late 1800s the clay target was introduced and by early 1900s the use of live birds was declared illegal across the world.

The two shooting sports have some obvious similarities but different rules and procedures apply to each.


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If you wish to learn more about this sport and its history, just pop me a mail and I will send the information to you: info@tanyasworldofsports.co.za

When you are ready to take on those mounts, Please take a moment and bow to people that are disabled, that cannot take part in such sports.

My views, comments and content are strictly are of my own opinion and research and are not governed or influenced by any marketing of companies or brands. It is of my own free will to mention companies and brands that supply sporting equipment pertaining to the sport in the discussion.