By Dick Miller

SINCE Guns magazine readers come from all segments of firearms interest, this column, which chronicles the sports of trap and skeet, may attract the attention of individuals who have not been exposed to the clay target sports, who know neither the terminology nor ihe "methodology" of either game. For this reason, since "Pull" attempts to interest both novice and master, this month's material is aimed at the rifleman, the pistol shooter, gun collector, police officer, or general arms interest fan who has not yet enrolled in an undergraduate course in trap or skeet.

If we were to issue a catalogue describing a course called "Basic Trapshooting I, leading to an undergraduate degree," it would read something like this:

Trapshooting is a shotgun game, in which the contestant fires at flying targets called clay pigeons. Most shooting is done with 12-gauge guns, especially in competitive events.

Trap is divided into three championship events, called "Sixteen-yard," "Handicap," and "Doubles." In the Sixteen-yard event, shooters fire at single targets, from a point sixteen yards behind the traphouse. The trap-house contains a mechanical device for throwing the targets, called a trap.

In Handicap events, shooters fire at single targets, from distances up to 27 yards behind the traphouse. The handicap distances are assigned on the basis of past performance or known ability.

The Doubles event finds contestants shooting at two targets released simultaneously. Doubles targets are fired from the sixteen-yard line.

A regulation trap squad consists of five shooters, each of whom shoots five shots from each of five "posts" or shooting points. All targets in trap fly away from the shooter, at angles which are not predetermined. Trap is a long-range shotgun game. Favored guns are usually full choke. Your duck, squirrel, turkey, or pheasant gun serves as a trap gun.

A catalogue describing "Basic Skeet I" might say: Skeet is a short-range shotgun game. Targets emerge in a predetermined path from a high house on the field's left edge, and from a low house at the right. Skeet is fired from eight "posts" or shooting points, seven of which are arranged in a semi-circle between the two ttaphouses, and one post halfway between the two houses.

A shooter fires two shots from each post at single targets, for a total of 16 shots; then shoots at four pairs of doubles (two targets released simultaneously). The first shot missed is repeated, and called an "optional." This adds up to a total of 25 shots for the regulation "round." If no shot is missed, the

"optional" shot is taken as a single shot from any post. From posts one through seven, a shooter fires at one target going away or crossing from his left (the high house), and one target coming in, crossing, or going away from his right (the low house). Both shots from post eight are at incomers, one from each house.

Skeet championships are awarded in gauge classifications and aggregate (total score in all gauges). Classes are all-bore (12 gauge), 20 gauge, small bore (28 gauge or 3 inch .410) and sub-smallbore (2% inch .410 shells). Your quail or upland game shotgun serves as a skeet gun.

In both skeet and trap tournaments, shooters in other than handicap events are divided into classes, based on previous scores, so that shooters may compete against other shooters of demonstrated like ability.

The descriptions given here apply to the games of trap and skeet as they are fired in the United States. International skeet differs little from the U.S. version. International trap rules and field lay-outs differ sharply from the Yankee game. International trap targets emerge flush from the ground, rather than from a traphouse above the ground, and fly from 80 to 90 yards as opposed to 50 to 60 yards for domestic targets. The birds emerge from a series of fifteen traps to the single field; three traps to each of five posts. Under our rules, one trap serves each field of five posts. Two shots are allowed at each target in international trap, while the trap game we know gives the shooter only one.

When our new student digs deeper into the basic trap and skeet courses, he will discover that much of the appeal which those sports have for thousands of enthusiastic fans goes beyond the satisfaction of breaking a moving target. This is a soul-satisfying thing, it's true; but in addition, the follower of the clay target sports learns to look forward to seeing friends at each successive club shoot or area tournament. Ask most of the top-notchers in either trap or skeet what they have gotten out of the game, and the answer will almost invariably refer to the friendships they have made through participation in the sports, rather than to some pinnacle in shooting skill which gained a win or a trophy.

If the professor of Basic Trap favors field trips for his classes, he would certainly choose the nearest of such outstanding shooting events for the month of May as the Baby Grand Shoot at Ranchinn Skeet and Trap Club at Elko, Nevada, April 30 and May 1. 2. and 3. In another area, he would suggest the Stifal & Son 25th Annual Spring Shoot at Casey, Illinois; or the 5th Annual Ray Loring $5,000 Memorial Handicap at the Pines Gun Club, Streator, Illinois, May 15.

16, and 17. The New York Athletic Club shoots are scheduled for May 8, 9, and 10 at Pelham Manor, New York. The Vermont state shoot will be held at the Bennington Rod and Gun Club, May 30 and 31.

Down in the Southland, the Louisiana state shoot will be run off May 8, 9, and 10. In the northwest, it's the Northwest Handicap at Fort Dodge Gun Club, Fort Dodge, Iowa, on the 16th and 17th. The Missouri state shoot occupies the stage on the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th of May, at the Wright City Gun Club, in the show-me state. New Mexico's state championships will be decided on April 30 and the first three days of May, at the Albuquerque Trap Club.

The professor of "Skeet Basic I" will have to figure out his own field trips without any help from this corner, since as this is being written, I can't find my copy of the skeet shooting magazine. But there are skeet clubs in every area, and a visit to any club on any shooting day would provide as much spectator appeal and beginner education as attendance at a formal match shoot.

Reference will often be made in this column to "registered" shoots. For the uninitiated, this term means that the scores recorded in registered shoots are reported to the national governing bodies of trap and skeet. Those organizations are the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA) for trap, with headquarters in Vandalia, Ohio; and the National Skeet Shooting Association (NSSA) in Dallas, Texas, for skeet.

If you are still with us at this point, you have earned a bachelor's degree in skeet or trap. If you'll crack the books, and. stay with us for future issues, you can earn your master's degree and ultimately your doctorate in trap or skeet. These higher degrees require some shooting, of course; but that will be fun, I assure you. All the students who take the trap and skeet courses agree to that. One of the nicest things about these (and all the other) shooting sports is— they're family sports, in which the kids and ladies can participate on approximately equal footing with the old man. Can— and do. And how they love it!

Dick Miller

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