Trap shooting is an incredibly popular sport, particularly for hunters looking to practice before the start of a big season or for new firearm enthusiasts looking to get some shooting time in with moving targets instead of stationary bullseyes.
But trap shooting can be confusing and even frustrating if you don’t know where to start. That’s what this guide is for.
Why Is Trap Shooting Great?
Trap shooting is an excellent beginner’s shooting activity, particularly compared to other types of target shooting, like skeet or sporting clay shooting.
That’s because trap shooting targets fly away from you at relatively predictable angles, making them easier to hit if you don’t have a lot of shooting experience.
Furthermore, as you gain experience and begin hitting your targets more consistently, you’ll still have lots of room to improve.
Trap shooting competitions often have expert marksman hitting 200 targets or more in a row without a single miss, teaching you consistency along with initial accuracy
Types of Shotguns to Use
There are three main types of shotguns you might use for trap shooting.
- Pump-action shotguns are the best for trap shooting and are more often used for hunting. But these are still quite easy firearms to use overall.
- Semiautomatic shotguns are the preferred type for consistent trap shooting. These weapons are easy to keep on your shoulder if you have to shoot multiple trap targets in a single session or moment. However, semi-auto shotguns take more effort to unload compared to pump-action shotguns.
- Over and under shotguns are an alternative choice. When using these, just be sure to drop a shell in your barrel only when you’re about to yell, “Pull!”
How to Hit a Trap Bird
To shoot a trap bird, most ranges will have you stand behind the “trap house” (the apparatus that launches the clay trap birds) and shout, “Pull!” when you’re ready for a target to launch.
Your shotgun should already be up and at your shoulder by the time you yell for the bird to be released.
The basic technique goes like this:
- Watch the bird as it flies and “read” the angle that it seems to be holding. Remember that trap houses can launch birds in several angles to provide complexity and a challenge.
- If the bird flies in a straightaway pattern, try to shoot the bottom edge of the target.
- If the bird is quartering or taking a shorter flight, try to shoot the leading edge of the target.
- And if the bird is taking a hard angle, aim about a foot ahead of its current flight position to have the best chance of success
Regardless of the exact flight pattern, you’ll always want to try to shoot a trap bird as it's rising or leveling off.
Trap Shooting Etiquette
You’ll get better at the technical skill of trap shooting as you practice.
But beyond these mechanical skills, you should also keep trap shooting etiquette in mind, particularly if you want to participate in a competition at some point.
Here are some good etiquette pointers to remember:
- Always think about the shooter on your left – try not to make a bunch of noise with your gun action when they are about to shoot so you don’t break their concentration.
- Use a shell catcher if you have a semiautomatic gun so your shells don’t interfere with the person to your right
- Similarly, be gentle when ejecting an empty shell from a pump-action shotgun. This prevents the shell from hitting someone next to you
- Always keep your gun visibly clear and unloaded when you aren’t taking a shot.
- Always use eye and ear protection.
Remembering all these tips will go a long way toward helping you enjoy your time trap shooting.
What are your other tips for beginners who want to try trap shooting? Kindly share them in the comments section below