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Most shotgun sports fall into three disciplines: Skeet, Trap, and Sporting Clays. The following sections describe the most prominent games in each discipline as well as the official governing bodies for each. The Other Sports section at the end of the page contains brief descriptions of some of the less common shotgun sports. Refer to the Tech Talk page for useful information on shooting in general as well as gun, choke, and shot size selections for the various sports.

American Skeet
Skeet Doubles
English Skeet
International Skeet

Skeet Field Layout

American Skeet - National Skeet Shooting Association (NSSA)

A round of skeet consists of 25 targets in a set sequence of singles and simultaneous doubles. Squads of five shooters take their turns from eight shooting stations. Each squad member takes two singles and one double from stations 1, 2, 6, and 7. Two singles are taken from stations 3, 4, 5, and 8. The 25th target is taken after the first target is missed or as a final target (low house #8) after 24 kills. Targets are thrown a distance of 60 yards. Variations in the angles of the targets presented from the "high" and "low" house result from the shooter moving from station to station. American Skeet is the only discipline that has regular, specific tournament events for sub-bore shotguns: 20, 28, and .410.

Skeet Doubles

Shooters, in squads of five, start on station 1, shooting one pair of doubles each to station 7. Then they reverse, shooting one pair each from stations 7 through 1. On station 4, shooters must shoot the high house target first. On reversing, (shooting 7 through 1), they must shoot the low house target first. In tournaments, the events are on a total of 50 (or 100) targets with the last pair shot on station 1. Scoring is one point per hit target.

English Skeet - Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (CPSA)

A seven station version of American Skeet, substituting the singles thrown on station 8 with a double on station 4.

International Skeet - USA Shooting / International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF)

An eight station format like that of American Skeet with faster targets thrown at 72 meters. The shooter is required to hold the butt of the gun at hip level until the target is seen, which may be delayed for up to 3.5 seconds after the "pull" request. Single and double target sequences are slightly different from American Skeet with a high single and on pair of doubles from stations 1 and 2; high and low singles and one pair of doubles from stations 3, 4, and 5 (on station 4, the high bird must be attempted first in doubles); a single low and a double from station 6; one pair of doubles from station 7; a single high and a single low from station 8. A round is 25 targets (no option shot). Like Olympic Trap, shot charge is restricted to 24 grams (approximately 7/8 oz.), with any safe powder charge. For tournaments, all shells must be of the same type and load.

American Trap
Handicap Trap
Doubles Trap
Olympic Trap / Olympic Bunker / Olympic Trench

Trap Field Layout

American Trap - Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA)

The most basic of all the trap disciplines. Standard targets are thrown as singles. The horizontal direction is randomized with a maximum angle of 22 degrees measured from a line from the trap to the middle station. The height at which the targets are thrown is constant. The distance is constant at 50 yards. A squad of five shoot in rotation from five stations arrayed in an arc located 16 yards behind the traphouse; 5 targets are thrown at each station, after which the shooters move to the next station on their right. A round is 25 targets with one shot allowed at each target. An English variation is called Down-The-Line, a two-barrel discipline that allows two shots at a single target with scoring penalty for a second-barrel hit.

Handicap Trap

The same as American Trap, except the shooter stands further back than 16 yards - but no longer than 27 yards. The ATA reviews handicap yardage for shooters every 1,000 targets as part of their handicap system.

Doubles Trap

As the name implies, two targets are launched simultaneously from one machine. Squads of five shooters rotate the five positions on the 16 yard line. Shooting events consist of 25 or 50 pairs. Like American Trap and Handicap Trap, scoring is one point per target hit.

Olympic Trap / Olympic Bunker / Olympic Trench

An international discipline that incorporates fifteen machines. Targets have a minimum height of 1.5 meters and a maximum height of 3.5 meters as measured 10 meters in front of the bunker. Targets are thrown up to 110 MPH depending on the target height to get the 70 to 75 meter variable distance required. The maximum target angle is 45 degrees. There are nine set programs for the fifteen traps that are used in all countries of the world. A squad of six shooters take turns shooting from the five stations.

Shooters move to the next station after each target in a shoot-and-move rotation. The shooting stations are located in a straight line. On the call "pull" (phono-pull release system is utilized to insure equitable target releases), a clay is thrown from one of three fixed traps directly in front of each of five shooters. Two shots may be used for each target with no penalty in scoring. Each shooter gets two lefts, two rights, and one straightaway target from each station. Shot charge is restricted to 24 grams (approximately 7/8 oz.) using any safe powder charge (plated shot is allowed). Also, the Olympic target is made harder, to handle the higher target speed and is slightly smaller than the standard American Trap target.

Sporting Clays
English or American Sporting
FITASC Sporting / International Sporting
5-Stand Sporting

Sporting Clays Layout

English or American Sporting - National Sporting Clays Association (NSCA)

Sporting Clays like trap and skeet uses traps and clay targets to duplicate, as far as possible, conditions and presentations you would normally find while hunting. A typical sporting course is laid out over a 10, 20, or 30 acre site, ideally in rough, hilly terrain. The path that shooters follow usually takes a circular or horseshoe shape enabling shooters to start and finish in roughly the same place. Targets are thrown from 10 to 14 shooting stations along the path. Courses can be laid out with either automatic or manual traps, usually set out-of-sight. Six different types of targets can be used: standard, midi, mini, battue, rocket, or rabbit. Target sequence may incorporate singles, report pairs, following pairs, and true (simultaneous) pairs. A round usually consists of 50 or 100 targets. The shooter's gun must be visible below the armpit and may not be mounted until the target is visible.

FITASC Sporting / International Sporting - Federation Internationale de Tir Aux Armes Sportives de Chasse (FITASC)

The most challenging form of sporting shooting, it is the French version of practice for field shooting. Unlike the free and easy format of English or American Sporting, FITASC Sporting is shot in squads of up to six with a fixed order of stands (parcours, in French) that are shot in strict rotation. A competition normally consists of 200 targets shot over three days in eight rounds of 25. In each round of 25, shots are taken from at least three different stands. The shooter is required to hold the but of the gun below armpit level until the target is seen. Great variety and lack of repetition is accomplished by use of a number of traps. Single targets are first shot by the entire squad. After the entire squad has completed the singles, combinations of the singles are presented as doubles. Here, as in English Sporting, all six types of clays are used. Generally speaking, targets tend to be at longer ranges with the added challenge of continual variation of speeds, angles, distances, and target combinations.

5-Stand Sporting - National Sporting Clays Association (NSCA)

Sometimes overlayed on a trap or skeet field, this game uses 6 to 8 automatic traps. There are 3 levels of difficulty: Level I, 5 single targets with full use of the gun for scoring; Level II, 3 single and a simultaneous pair; Level III 1 single and 2 simultaneous pairs. Shooters (squad of five) can move from station to station with a predetermined menu of shots and combinations, or in a sequence unknown to the shooters. 5-STAND SPORTING® is a registered trademark of Clay-Sport International, Inc., Alberta, Canada. In the U.S., 5-STAND® is licensed by the NSCA.

Other Sports  

Continental (Wobble) Trap

This is a simulation of Olympic Trap that is shot on an ordinary ATA trap field. A special trap that oscillates both left and right and up and down is used. These traps will throw a target to distances in excess of 70 meters (over 75 yards). As in Olympic Trap, a six-man squad shoots one target per station and moves to the next station. The sixth shooter is moving from station 5 back to 1 while the other 5 competitors shoot.


Flurry is the fastest paced game of the clay sports. 50 to 75 targets are thrown from 4 machines in a 1 minute time frame, while 2 or 3 shooters attempt to engage as many of the targets as they can. Targets are randomized by a computer, ensuring that you never know which one you'll shoot next.

ZZ / Helice / Electrocibles

A worldwide trap discipline, the target is a 2 or 3 bladed plastic propeller with a detachable (breakable) center. One of five traps in front of the shooter releases the target on call; two shots are allowed at each target. To score a "kill", the shooter must knock the center out of the target so that it lands within the confines of a circular fence.

Portions of this page are excerpted from:
Black's 2002 Wing and Clay Shotgunner's Handbook
Copyright 2001© by JFB, Inc.

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