History of Shotgun Sports
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Trap shooting derives its name from the device which throws the clay targets into the air. Trap simulates the flight of a game bird flushed ahead of the shooter. In the original version of the sport, live birds were released from holes in the ground covered with silk top hats. The silk hats later were replaced with a box that had a sliding lid that “trapped” the bird.  On the call of the shooter the trapper standing beside the shooter would pull a string that would slide the lid off and release the bird. The first mention of trapshooting as a sport is found in 1793 English publication titled "Sporting Magazine".

The Sportsmen’s Club of Cincinnati, Ohio first introduced the practice of shooting live birds from traps in the U.S. in 1831. Targets first replaced live birds about the time of the Civil War. Early varieties of targets, designed to duplicate a live bird, included a metal "bird" with rotary wings and fragile, feather-filled glass balls launched from traps resembling medieval catapults. In the 1880s, clay targets such as the ones used today were first developed, George Ligowskey of Cincinnati is credited with creating the first clay target and trap.

The first Grand American Handicap was held in 1900 in Queens, Long Island and was the beginning of what has become the nation's most renowned shooting tournament.


In 1920 in Andover, Massachusetts, a small group of upland game hunters took to shooting clay targets as a means of practicing their wing shooting. The first field was a circle around a single trap.  As more people started to shoot and more spectators wanted to watch, for safety reasons, they changed to a semi-circle with two traps on each end.  As friendly rivalries started to develop amongst the group, a uniform series of shots was 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.

At some point, years ago there was a nationwide contest held to name this new shooting sport. The winning entry was taken from the Scandinavian word for “shoot,” and “skeet” became part of the American language.

Skeet has developed into much more than just an aid to better wing shooting or a substitute for hunting. It is now a competitive sport. Matches are conducted for all gun gauges, against others of like ability. Competition is held for four gauges of shotguns, 12, 20, 28 and .410, though many people never use more than one.

Sporting Clays

 Sporting Clays started in the 1880's in England where they used glass balls filled with feathers to practice game hunting. This type of shooting was not only popular with the rich land owners who could afford to hunt, but it was also popular among the less-well-to-do who could not afford the cost of pheasant hunting on game preserves and estates. When the clay target, similar to what we know today, was developed organized sporting clays in England was started.  It quickly gained popularity in England, enough so that in 1927 the 1st British Open Sporting Clays Championship was held.

 During this time, skeet and trap were growing in the United States, but it took over sixty years for sporting clays to travel across the ocean. In the early 80's a group in Connecticut organized one of the first, if not the first, sporting clays tournament in the USA at the Remington Gun Club. The Orvis Company picked it up and held the first National Shoot in 1983.  By 1985 the United Sporting Clays Association was formed in Houston, Texas. Since then sporting clays has become one of the fastest growing participation sports in the U.S. There are over 21,000 registered shooters with the National Sporting Clays Association. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, well over a half million shooters log over 25 days a year sampling clay targets.



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Last modified: June 30, 2015