Typically, trap shooters adorn a variety of accessories to enable a better game. They wear a pouch or vest to hold 25-50 cartridges so they can compete in either singles or doubles events.

It’s also important that they wear eye and ear protection, and most clubs and ranges require both. While a shooter can wear their normal glasses or sunglasses, there are specialty glasses available. These glasses are adjustable, they have interchangeable lenses of different colors, and they are designed for impact resistance.

The different colored lenses help with a shooter’s visibility in a variety of light conditions and they also enhance the color of the target and mute the background at the same time.

Ear protection can be found in just as many varieties. They use electronics and dense foam to reduce sound. They can be found in both an earmuff and an ear plug style. Some shooters even use both types at the same time or purchase types that allow them to listen to music while they shoot.


Trap shooting machines all contain a throwing device surrounded by a housing that is meant to protect the machine and hide the throwing position from the shooter. Automatic throwing machines can hold hundreds of targets in a carousel. They self-load after every shot.

Manual target throwers require a person to set the target by hand. In both types of machines, there is either a button push or a sound-activated device that produces an electrical signal, triggering the machine to throw the targets.

American Trap

American trap is the most popular form of trap in the United States and perhaps all of North America. While it’s practiced at clubs all over the country, it’s the most common type of recreational shooting outside of an official event.

The Amateur Trapshooting Association governs most official events and is one of the largest organizations in the world for shooting sports. They host the Grand American World Trap Shooting Championships every August.

There are three categories in American trap: singles, doubles, and handicap. For singles and doubles, a machine covered by a trap house throws the targets from ground level, from five different stations. Each station is 16 yards behind the trap house.

For singles, the American trapshooter shoots at five targets from each station, as the machine oscillates left to right. The shooter doesn’t know where the machine will release the target.

For doubles, the machine doesn’t oscillate, but it throws two targets at the same time, so the shooter has to shoot at five pairs, or ten targets total from each station.

For the handicap event, the machine operates much like the singles event, but the competitor has to stand farther from the trap house, at a minimum of 18 yards. As the competitor scores 96 or higher, they earn additional yardage to increase the difficulty, for a maximum yardage of 27.

Trap, Skeet, and Sporting Clays

There are three primary types of shooting sports, and they all have subtle differences. Many people get confused as to the difference between skeet and trap, but throwing sporting clays into the mix can make it a bit more confusing.

Trap shooting involves shooting targets launched from a single house away from the shooter. Skeet shooting launches targets from two opposing houses in paths that intersect each other in front of the shooter. Sporting clays has a more complex course and many different launch points.

Olympic Trap

Olympic trap courses require 125 shots for men and 75 shots for women. The final round for the top six competitors features 25 shots. It’s been an Olympic sport since 1900 but the current version was introduced in 1950.

This form of trap uses 15 machines at a fixed angle rather than one oscillating machine. These machines are controlled by a computer and designed to release 10 targets from the left, 10 from the right, and 5 straight away in a random sequence.

Double Trap

This form of trap was an Olympic event starting in 1996. In 2008 the women’s event was removed, and in 2020 the men’s event was taken away. Today, it’s played recreationally and competitively at smaller clubs and events.

Two targets are released simultaneously at different angles. They can be released with a variable delay of up to 1 second. In double trap, the shooter stands the same distance away from the trap house as in single trap: 16 yards.

Final Thoughts

A trap shooting game is a relatively simple sport that provides hours of entertainment to those who enjoy doing it recreationally and competitively. Many high schools throughout the United States even offer it as an extracurricular activity.

The trap shooter game is a common one among rural people in the Midwest, but it’s a fun game to learn for all ages and types of people, as long as it’s done safely and with the right equipment.

 Brady Kirkpatrick has been an avid gun enthusiast and hunter since he moved to the Midwest over 15 years ago. For more information visit gunmade.com

In other news

LINCOLN — Nebraska’s fall wild turkey season begins Wednesday, Sept. 15, giving hunters a chance to harvest two turkeys on a single permit.

LINCOLN — After a one-year hiatus, the Missouri River Outdoor Expo is back Saturday Sept. 18 to 19 at Ponca State Park, with a diverse array of family-friendly, hands-on activities that showcase outdoor education, sports and recreation.

Ponca State Park is hosting the Smoke on the River BBQ Challenge on Saturday, Sept. 18, during the Missouri River Outdoor Expo. There will be three main categories: Pork, poultry and beef.  An other category of wild game will be judged separately.