Learning to shoot Trap

I have shot guns since I was a child. BB guns, pellet guns, .22 rifles and shotguns. As a twelve-year-old I was trained in “instinct shooting,” a technique based on hand eye coordination, taught to the US military during Vietnam by a close friend of my father. After traveling the world training soldiers, he trained me and my four brothers using a BB gun and hardware washers with their centers filled with kleenex. He trained us to shoot the thrown washers and once we had mastered one size and the kleenex went flying, he would throw up the next smallest. This technique had all of my brothers able to hit a thrown BB out of the air with another BB! As the youngest son, I never did better than hitting a dime.

As an adult I have regularly enjoyed upland bird hunting with my brothers. For me, few things match the camaraderie  and excitement — walking through woods and fields with well-trained bird dogs ranging out ahead; the burst of adrenaline as pheasants explode upwards out from their  cover in a cacophony of wings;  you swing your gun and  then the twelve gauge crack! crack! of a double-barreled effort to bring down dinner. With full-sized shotguns we are still pretty good shots though age and lack of regular practice have let many birds fly safely on their way unscathed.

I had never shot competitively, though I had practiced a few times shooting clay pigeons.  This week I shot my first round of American Trap and it was a blast – so to speak.

I had visited a local trap club a few weeks back to get vetted for basic gun safety and competence. I signed up for a season pass and shot with a range warden to get acclimated to the intricate choreography of trap shooting.

The targets, clay pigeons, are flung from a low house in a random direction while five members of a “squad” shoot one at a time in order from one of five stations 15 yards behind the trap house – calling “pull!” for the target to be released. After progressing through all five shooters five times, everyone moves down the line to the next station where they will shoot in sequence five more times. And so on until everyone on the squad has shot five times from each station. Twenty-five shots in all. I hit 12 clays which I am told is not bad for a first round.

Here are some very competent trap shooters in action.

I look forward to shooting trap more in the future and would like to get better. I am sure it will help me in the field and let fewer pheasants fly free.

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