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Trapshooting can be tough

August 14, 2010 at 10:42 AM

“Trapshooting is a game of movement, action and split-second timing. It requires the accuracy and skill to repeatedly aim, fire and break the 4 1/4 inch discs which are hurled through the air at a speed of 42 mph, simulating the flight path of a bird fleeing from a hunter.”

So says the Amateur Trapshooting Association in their Trapshooting Overview. Certainly, it takes time and practice to shoot a decent score, but I had no idea recreational trapshooting was that complicated. I feel better about my misses already.

What the overview doesn’t tell us is that trapshooting can be a fun time for highly skilled shooters and as well as those who are causally interested. The clay targets don’t have to be hurled through the air at 42 miles per hour. If your split second timing is a little off at the beginning, it’s still good practice for the waterfowl and upland hunting seasons when real birds are fleeing and you’re not quite catching up to them.

A lot of us got our first taste at clay target shooting out behind the barn taking turns throwing clay pigeons with a spring loaded hand trap. When I was out there with my uncles, it was a cause for celebration if I did everything just right and threw a target down range with enough air under it for somebody to shoot before it hit the ground. Uncle Stanley accused me faking my throwing ability. If nobody wanted me flinging targets, I got to spend more time on the shooting line. He was an astute judge of the obvious.

One thing that makes trapshooting attractive to the nearly eight million people who participate is that you can start from where you are now. You don’t need a custom shotgun and a truckload of equipment to go out and have some fun. People with no clay target shooting experience can have some early success. In other words, you probably won’t miss every target.

If you can’t go out behind the barn this afternoon, and if you think you aren’t ready to shoot with a squad at a trapshooting range, you can get a couple of pals, buy a case of targets, and go up to the public trapshooting area at Jim Edgar Panther Creek. Put on eye and ear protection and let some targets fly just for fun. Throw a few and swing your unloaded gun with them to get an idea of target speed and flight angle. When you’re ready to shoot, for safety’s sake, load only one shell at a time. Keep your safety on until you have your feet set, your gun shouldered, and are ready to call for the bird.

Like your first time on a golf course, or tennis court, you will find that trapshooting may not be as easy as it looks. Don’t get discouraged. Famous outdoor writer, the late Grits Gresham said, “Many experienced shooters who think trapshooting is easy have never broken 25 targets in a row.”

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