Although most gun talk in the fall and winter is about hunting firearms, the chatter during the summer months leans more to the shooting sports: the fun, sporting and sometimes competitive side of shooting.
And that finds us at most local gun clubs, dressed in shorts and T-shirts, sunglasses and sneakers, and speaking of but one word: “pull.”
Thursday evening at my club is trapshooting time. It starts with five shooters, each with a box of ammunition in a belt bag.
Five guys, or ladies, in a curved row that measures exactly 16 yards behind a low, flat-roofed doghouse. But there are no dogs in the structure. It is the “trap house.”
Inside sits a motorized machine that flings a clay disk in random directions when signaled by a shooter.
So here is how it goes. Each of the five shooters fires at five clay birds, one at a time as the turn switches to the next shooter after each shot. After all hit or miss their five shots, the row changes positions and each shooter steps to the position to their right.
Then it is time for another round of five shots until all shooters have had a turn at 25 thrown clay targets, the very basic rendition of trap shooting.
Casual and accessible
Trap, skeet and sporting clays are the three most common of the wingshooting sports, and certainly the most available and affordable all-season shotgun shooting sport.
I place trap shooting as the most casual of the three and the least technical. Oh, and that business about a one-word sport is true.
Typically a code of manners is expected on the shooting line. After all, trap shooting is competitive even if the contest is based on personal goals of improvement heading into the hunting season or a contest between friends.
Indeed, the word is “pull” and anything else can break the concentration of the next shooter or, worse, interfere with a safety protocol that is practiced on the trap shooting line.
Trap shooting does not require anything special. Clay birds can be hit or missed with any shotgun, from grandpa’s single Stevens squirrel gun to that coveted budget-busting camo-covered semi.
The sport does require things like hearing protection, a couple boxes of shotgun ammunition and the ability to listen to instruction.
Safety measures require that regardless of the shotgun used, just one shell may be loaded and then only when it’s your turn you call “PULL” and shoot. At any other time, the shotgun is to be pointed to the ground.
While clay targets thrown from a commercial trap appear to fly at a variety of speeds and direction, they actually all fly at pretty much the same speed and within a set arc.
It is challenging, that’s a fact. It is doable, that’s also a fact. But best of all, it is fun.
Finding the fun
So where can one try trap shooting? A wide spattering of gun clubs offer many trap leagues and fun shooting.
Many clubs schedule fun shoots in which members can bring guests and even welcome nonmembers at regular intervals. Watch sport page “outdoor” calendars, check bulletin boards at sport shops and ask local wildlife officials to find a shoot near you.