About Trapshooting

Trapshooting is a game of movement, action and split-second timing. It requires accuracy and skill to aim repeatedly, firing each time and breaking the 4¼- inch disc as it flies through the air at 41 miles per hour like a bird fleeing a hunter.

Trapshooting is easily the most popular shotgun shooting sport in the U.S., universally popular, mainly because people of all ages, incomes and abilities can compete. The sport’s participants come from all walks of life. They are millionaires and hourly wage earners alike. Among them are inventors and businessmen, past and present sports figures, farmers, truck drivers, musicians, actors, students and homemakers. That’s why the Boston Marathon is the only single-person sporting event in America that is larger than ATA’s Grand American Trapshooting Championships.

The Basics

In a round of trap, shooters are usually formed into squads of five. Each shooter takes five shots from each of the five positions on the field (moving left to right), for a total of 25 targets.

American trap is broken into three disciplines: 16-yard singles, 16-yard doubles and handicap, which is shot between 19 and 27 yards. Singles is considered the easiest of the three.

One of the most important rules in trap is that the shooter starts with the shotgun in the “mounted” position with the butt stock mounted to his shoulder. That’s not a headstart though. There’s no guessing when the target might fly because the clay pigeon isn’t released until the shooter calls “pull.”

Participants can shoot informally for practice or for fun, or try their luck competitively. Folks who shoot registered targets are members of the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA). In registered trap, targets are recorded by the ATA, and shooters are classified according to their previous scores.

Membership into ATA grants you automatic membership into the South Carolina Trapshooters’ Association.  That’s one way of keeping participation organized and helps assure a place to shoot when you like.


Participation in trapshooting continues a grand old tradition. Trap began in the U.S. around 1825. The first recorded match was shot six years later in Cincinnati, where Americans led the way in developing artificial targets. Glass balls stuffed with feathers were used at first, but soon clay targets become the standard for the sport. The greatest trap shooters of the 19th century included Adam Bogardus, Ira Paine and Annie Oakley. In a one-day exhibition, Bogardus broke 5,681 glass balls before missing, and Oakley shot 4,722 of 5,000.


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