Trapshooting was originally developed, in part, to augment bird hunting and to provide a method of practice for bird hunters. Use of targets was introduced as a replacement for live pigeons. Indeed, one of the names for the targets used in shooting games is clay pigeons. The layout of a modern trapshooting field differs from that of a Skeet field and/or a Sporting Clays course.
Trapshooting has been a sport since the late 18th Century when real birds were used; usually the Passenger Pigeon, which was extremely abundant at the time. Birds were placed under hats or in traps which were then released. Artificial birds were introduced around the time of the American Civil War. Glass Balls (Bogardus) and subsequently “clay” targets were introduced in the later 1800s gaining wide acceptance, but shooting of live birds is still practiced in some parts of the United States.
A recreational and competitive activity where participants, using shotguns, attempt to break clay disks automatically flung into the air from two fixed stations at high speed from a variety of angles.
Skeet shooting was invented by William Harden Foster, an avid grouse hunter, in the 1920s as a sport called Clock Shooting. The original course was a circle with a radius of 25 yards with its circumference marked off like the face of a clock and a trap set at the 12 o’clock position. The practice of shooting from all directions had to cease, however, when a chicken farm started next door. The game evolved to its current setup by 1923 when one of the shooters, William Harnden Foster, solved the problem by placing a second trap at the 6 o’clock position and cutting the course in half. Foster quickly noticed the appeal of this kind of competition shooting, and set out to make it a national sport.
Sporting clays is a form of clay pigeon shooting, often described as “golf with a shotgun” because a typical course includes from 10 to 15 different shooting stations laid out over natural terrain. For safety, the course size is often no smaller than 35 acres.
Unlike trap and skeet, which are games of repeatable target presentations, sporting clays simulates the unpredictability of live-quarry shooting, offering a great variety of trajectories, angles, speeds, elevations, distances, and target sizes.
In the early 1900s, a number of British shooting schools adopted the use of clay targets to practice for driven-game shoots. Clay target shooting quickly attracted a large following. Sporting Clays was introduced to American shooters by Bob Brister in his feature article in Field & Stream magazine in July 1980. Today sporting clays is one of the fastest growing sports in America, with more than three million people of all ages participating both competitively and recreationally.