Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 27 >> Siam to The Growth And Con >> Trap Shooting

Trap-Shooting

traps, shot, trap, shooting, sport, yards, angle and matches

TRAP-SHOOTING, an outdoor sport in creasingly and deservedly popular in the United States and Canada, in which by means of a mechanism now called the a disc of coarse pottery, the clay pigeon,* is thrown upward at an angle unknown to the sports man, who thereupon sights his piece and fires while the disc is still in the air. The name trap shooting is derived from the former practice of placing a series of traps in the ground, in each of which was imprisoned a live pigeon, and at a given signal of the marksman the operator of the trap liberated one of the birds. The first mention of trap-shooting as a sport is found in an old English publication called the Shooting Magazine, issued in 1793, and it is there referred to as being a "well established recreation)) of the period. Trap-shooting, both at live birds and inanimate targets, has become one of the most popular of British sports, but is not indulged in to nearly the same extent as in the United States. In the records of the Sportsmen's Club of Cincinnati, Ohio, for the year 1831 is found the earliest mention of trap shooting in the United States. Cincinnati, therefore, appears to be the birthplace and early home of the sport in the United States. Passenger pigeons, and sometimes quail, were used in the sport. The Long Island Club was formed about 1840, and soon after the New York Sportsmen's Club was organized in that city. What may be termed the "glass ball)) period in trap-shooting was inaugurated in 1866, when Charles Portlock of Boston, Mass., intro duced the glass ball as the first substitute for live pigeons, and the new sport gained a con siderable degree of popularity at once. In a few years improved traps for throwing the glass ball were developed and interest in the sport increased throughout the country. The first national trap-shooting tournament was held at New Orleans, La.; 11-16 Feb. 1885, under the auspices of the National Gun Asso ciation. In the last quarter of the 19th century the sport became very popular; traps were im proved, freaks in the shape of glass balls, which upon being hit belched forth smoke or feathers, were eliminated, and the now almost universal clay disc was introduced. The early rules for glass ball shooting were few : All matches or sweepstakes were shot over three traps placed 10 yards apart on a straight line. This was the same as the later rule made for target traps set Sergeant-system, except that the distance between the traps was less in the latter case. The traps were numbered 1, 2, 3, from left to right ; No. 1 threw a left angle; No. 2 a straight away, and No. 3 a right angle. The trap puller was stationed six feet behind the shooter.

The trap to be pulled was decided by the ref eree. He had three gun wads bearing the numbers corresponding to the traps and drew one from his pocket when the shooter took his place at the score, showing it to the puller who pulled the trap of that number. After the shooter took his place at the score he was not allowed to raise the butt of his gun above his elbow, under penalty of having the ball scored lost, whether it was broken or not. There was no restriction as to the size of shot used, or charge of powder, but not more than one and one-fourth ounce of shot was allowed. The rise was 18 yards, and all ties shot off at five single balls, 21 yards rise. In double shooting the distance was 16 yards, over two traps placed 10 yards apart; tics shot off at three pairs each, 18 yards rise. The same rules applied where the shooting was done over one trap, but the angle was changed at every shot, a screen pre venting the shooter from viewing the angle of the trap. A late novelty in trap-shooting and one which greatly tests the skill of the marks man is the erection of the shooting towers. They are usually about 50 feet high and the "clay pigeons") are thrown from the top of the tower instead of from the ground. The levers are worked from below and hurl the targets at any desired angle.

The first and the only international trap shooting contest was held at the Middlesex Club grounds near London, 11-13 June 1901. The conditions of the matches called for any 10 men from the United States against any 10 men from England, Ireland and Scotland, each man to shoot at 100 targets; the Americans to use but one barrel and one and one-fourth ounces of shot, while the British team were allowed the use of both barrels and one and one-eighth ounces of shot, the targets to be shot at 18 yards rise. A purse of 5,000 was to go to the winner of three out of five contests. The Americans won three consecutive matches, end ing the contest on the third day, the total score standing: Americans Britith First Match 866 an • Second Match 877 794 Third Match 843 749 W. R. Crosby of the American team scored 93, 95 and 90 in the three matches as against 87, 87 and 83 by Izzard, Joynt and Pike, respec tively, of the British team. On 19 June of the same year the American team defeated a picked Scottish team, the total score being American 969; Scottish 882. For a full and complete his tory of this sport, with illustrations of very many traps and discussions of their individual merits, together with rules for matches, scor ing, etc., consult Eaton, D. H., (Cincinnati. Ohio. 1918).