Trapshooting Basics

A round of trap includes 25 targets, where each shooter in squad fires at 5 targets from each of 5 shooting positions. A full squad is 5 shooters, although there is nothing wrong with shooting a round with one, two, three or four shooters. Each person fires at one target from their position, then the next shooter, then the next. When all shooters have fired once from their station, the process repeats four more times. If you’re keeping track of the math, you’ll see that each shooter has fired 5 shots from their starting position.

After the last shooter fires their fifth shot, the squad rotates positions with each shooter moving one position to the right. The shooter on the far right circles back to the first, and now vacant, position on the far left.

The cycle repeats until all shooters have fired at five targets from each of the five shooting positions. When finished, every shooter will have attempted shots at 25 targets.


Trapshooting Disciplines

There are three different disciplines in American trapshooting....

Each round consists of 25 targets shot from 5 different stations, 5 targets per station. You shoot from 16 yards.

Each round consists of 25 targets shot from 5 different stations, 5 targets per station. You shoot your targets anywhere from 19 yards to 27 yards, depending on your ability.

Each round consists of 25 pair of targets shot from 5 different stations, 5 pair of targets per station. You shoot from 16 yards. 


Trapshooting Etiquette

  • When your turn is coming up, be aware of the shooter to your left. Avoid making noises with your gun action when that person is about to shoot. I load my shell just after they fire their shot, so there is no interference with the other shooter’s concentration.
  • If you’re using a semi-automatic gun, invest in a shell catcher, so your shells don’t fly over at the person to your right. A shell catcher is a couple dollar piece of plastic that traps the empty shell in the action. They’re getting ready for their shot as you complete yours, and they will appreciate not getting hit in the face with your empty shell.
  • If you’re using a pump gun, be gentle with the pump action when ejecting your empty shell. You should be able to control the ejection, so your empty doesn’t hit the person next to you.
  • Whenever you’re not at a shooting position, you want your gun to be visibly clear and unloaded. With a break open like an over / under, keep your action opened so others can see the gun is not able to fire. If you have a pump, keep the slide to the rear, so the action is visibly open. If you have a semi-auto, lock the action open, so the chamber is visible. With any gun, keep your muzzle pointed at the ground or up into the air. Your club may have a preference, so be sure to check.
  • When you step up to the shooting line to start a round, be sure you have a full box of shells and a couple of spares, along with eye an ear protection.
  • When you move from position five to position one (they’re called posts) be very aware of your gun muzzle, so it doesn’t ever point at the other shooters or scorekeeper. Most clubs will want you to circle around, away from the trap, and then walk behind the other shooters back to post one.
  • Never load your gun until it’s your turn to shoot. You’ll see the rhythm at your club, and if everyone is safe and proper, then shooters will only load their gun as the previous shooter finishes. If using over and under shotguns, some shooters will drop a shell into place, but wait to close the action until the person to their left has fired.


Gun Safety

There have been very few, if any, deaths related to gun accidents in the sport of skeet shooting. Gun safety is Job 1 while skeet shooting. Some simple rules include:

1. Never move from station to station with a loaded shell in your gun.
2. Always keep the gun pointed downrange.
3. Never carry a loaded gun when not on the firing line.
4. Be alert to trap boys leaving the trap house while the round is in progress.
5. You must keep the action open on your gun at all times while moving from post to post while you are shooting.
6. Never "track" a target while waiting to shoot after the squad in front of you
7. Never turn around to face the scorekeeper with a loaded gun.
8. Keep your gun in good mechanical condition.