Oh, Shoot: 5 Trap Shooting Tips to Know
Feeling rusty and nervous about the upcoming hunting season? Break your gun or rifle out of that gun case and hit the range for some trap shooting practice. Spring and summer are the best times to sharpen your skills!
Whether you simply want to enjoy a day out with friends trying this recreational shotgun sport or honing your aim to take down that prize buck, use these five trap shooting tips to make the most of your time on the range!
What Is Trap Shooting?
Originally created to give practice for bird hunters, trap shooting has evolved over time. With roots that date back to the 1800s, today this outdoorsman’s activity is not just a practice tool, but also an Olympic-recognized competitive sport.
While both shooting activities are a sport, trap vs. skeet shooting is slightly different, each requiring its own techniques and skillsets. While both require you to take down clay targets, there is one defining difference: Trapshooting requires the shooter to take down targets that are traveling away, while skeet shooting requires shooters to strike crossing targets.
Rotating along a semi-circular field, a trap shooter will aim to take down each clay target. The bunker will send out five shots in five different locations, which totals 25 shots per round. But taking down each clay target takes lots of experience and skill. Luckily, we’re here to talk about just that!
1. Identify and Focus on Your Window
One of the first trap shooting tips you should know is how to identify your window where the bunker sends out the shots. Generally speaking, the targets will fly into a window that is a 2x3-foot area located roughly 15 yards out and three yards above the trap house roof.
Within this window is where you want to focus your sights, locking in on the target. Essentially, your soft-focus should be the window and peripheral vision, while your hard-focus should be locked on the target.
2. Track the Trap with the Gun
Once you home in on your window and peripheral, you will need to track the trap with your gun. Keep your sights on the trap target, and avoid aiming the gun like you would normally with a pistol or rifle. Instead, imagine the target is attached by a string to the bunkhouse. Now, consider the string’s projection, which will help direct you to the target.
In other words, don’t aim with the gun. Instead, lock in on the target, and your eyes will do the rest, guiding your gun to the target in anticipation of where it is headed.
3. Stay Patient and Calm Before Each Shot
While it’s easy to forget as you get caught up in the moment, another trap shooting tip is to stay patient. Staying patient and calm before each shot will allow you a moment to focus. Instead of jumping on the target as soon as it comes out, take a few seconds to let your eyes adjust and settle, tracking the invisible string if you will.
Many shooters will call as soon as one second. But, more often than not, that’s simply too fast. Remember that you don’t have to space out all the calls and shots evenly. Take time to make the call when you’re ready.
4. Take the Shot and Follow Through
This trap shooting tip is quite universal and applies to many hunting sports. Whether you use guns or compound bows, you want to make sure to “follow-through.” If you’re not already familiar with this term, it basically means to resist the urge to drop the gun — or your elbow and bow — too early.
Avoid the urge to dismount prematurely, and you will ensure a smoother shot. Keep the gun mounted on your shoulder for several seconds and don’t rush it. Again, this is a common trap shooting tip, but also a general all-around tip for any marksman or hunter.
5. Choose a Lighter Load
Dedicated and professional trap shooters can go through thousands of rounds. And it goes without saying that carrying these rounds out with you on the range can really weigh a shooter down. Instead of lugging this weight, consider a lighter load.
For example, you can choose lighter rounds like the Federal’s 2 ¾-dram, 1-ounce No. 8s. A lighter round will also prevent shooters from getting recoil-sensitive, allowing them to decrease the energy of the shell without using a heavier gun.
Practice Your Aim with These Trap Shooting Tips
Trap shooting offers a great way for hunters — especially bird hunters! — to practice their skills. In the off-season, it also offers a way to get out with fellow hunters. Look up local ranges and carry your gear in a secure shotgun case for those off-chance moments when you have time to meet up and swing by for practice.