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Skeet Shooting

Skeet Shooting Illustration
Illustration provided by clay-shooting.com

In 1920 in the town of Andover, Massachusetts, a small group of upland game hunters took to shooting clay targets as a means of practicing their wing shooting. As friendly rivalries started to develop amongst the group, a uniform series of shots were developed to keep the competition fair and even for all. It was from this crude beginning that the modern day version of skeet shooting developed into what is now an international sport practiced by hunters and non-hunters alike.

Charles E. Davies, an Andover, Massachusetts businessman and avid grouse hunter, is recognized as the inventor of the skeet game as we know it.

The word "skeet" is derived from the Scandanavian word for "shoot."Credit for naming the game goes to Gertrude Hurlbutt, a Dayton, Montana housewife, who in 1926 won a contest for naming the new game. Among the thousands of entries in the contest were "Bang" and "Bye Bye Blackbird."

Skeet Shooting today involves 10's of 1000's of people across North America and the world. There is American Skeet, International Skeet and English Skeet. Each form of Skeet Shooting varies slightly from the other.

The National Skeet Shooting Association is the governing body for American Skeet. More than 20,000 skeet shooters shoot "registered targets" that are sanctioned by The National Skeet Shooting Association each year.

If you want to shoot better in the field, enjoy a day at the gun club, or compete with the top skeet shooters in the world for honor and glory (notice that I left out money), then skeet shooting is a great sport.

The basic difference between skeet shooting and trapshooting is that in skeet, most of the targets are crossing targets and in trapshooting, all of the targets are outgoing targets.

To find a place to shoot, click here.


Illustration provided by Clay Shooting Magazine

Trapshooting was developed in England late in the 18th century. The first targets were live pigeons, which were released from cages known as traps. The sport was first practiced in the United States early in the 19th century and was popular by midcentury in a number of areas, notably Cincinnati, Ohio, and the New York City area.

The substitute targets first tried included glass balls filled with feathers and solid iron pigeons mounted on long metal rods. Platter-shaped clay pigeons were developed about 1870. The subsequent introduction of standard-ized traps facilitated nationwide competition. The first U.S. national championship match took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1885.


Sporting Clays

Illustrations provided by Clay Shooting Magazine

Sporting Clays is a challenging clay target game designed to simulate field shooting. On a Sporting Clays course, shooters are presented with a wide variety of targets that duplicate the flight path of gamebirds, such as flushing, crossing, incoming and other angling shots.

Courses are laid out in natural surroundings and typically include five or 10 shooting "stations" with shooters moving from one station to the next to complete the course. Each "station" presents shooters with a different type of shot. At a "grouse station," for example, shooters might face flushing "birds" that zip in and out of the trees. At a "decoying duck" station, incoming targets may float in toward the shooter. 

Most courses make use of natural features such as woods and ponds to create a realistic setting for each type of shot. At any "station," targets may be thrown as singles, simultaneous pairs, following pairs (one target right after the other), or report pairs (the second target launched at the sound of the gun being fired at the first).

To further challenge shooters, target size may vary from the standard trap/skeet clay bird to the smaller "midi" and "mini" targets, or a flat disc shaped "battue" target. There are even special "rabbit" targets that are thrown on end and skitter across the ground.

Five Stand

Illustration provided by Clay Shooting Magazine

Five Stand is very similar to Sporting Clays in that a wide variety of targets are thrown. No two five-stands are exactly alike. There are five "stands" or stations to shoot from. There are usually somewhere between 6 and 8 traps that throw targets. Participants shoot in turn at each of the 5 stands and various combinations of targets are thrown from the traps. Usually there is a menu card that will advise the shooter of the sequence of targets. Five Stand is a great way to get a Sporting Clays like experience in a small amount of space, with very little walking.

Please send any feedback on the web site to david@claytargetsonline.com I am not affiliated with any club on this site.