Trap Shooting vs. Skeet Shooting – Introduction to Shotgun Sports

There is a lot of confusion between trap shooting and skeet shooting since they are similar to one another. However, there are some differences between the two.

For instance, trapshooting has five stations, whereas skeet shooting has eight. Similarly, in trap shooting, targets only move away from the shooter, whereas, in skeet shooting, the target can move either towards or away from the shooter.

Clay Target Shooting Disciplines

Clay target shooting has evolved in many ways and permits the use of a smoothbore shotgun up to twelve gauges in order to shoot clay targets. The discipline includes three main components: singles, doubles, and handicaps.

Singles Trap Shooting

Singles is one of the easiest of the three disciplines. In singles disciplines, the shooter has to stand sixteen yards away from the middle of the trap house, and they have to shoot at random targets. These targets fly at random angles in front of them. Shooters for single trap shooting are usually grouped in squads, and the group is usually made of five people in total.

There are five different positions, and each shooter stands on one of these positions. Each position has five shots per person, which totals up to twenty-five shots. After the twenty-five shots are done, it indicates that one round is over. This grouping gives each participant a unique angle of the flying target in the air. Each of the five positions is 16 yards from the trap house and is spaced at three feet apart from one another and forms a small arc.

The squads usually rotate between four trap fields – this is called a bank. Once the shooter finishes their task of shooting at their targets from the four trap houses, then that means that a round of 100 targets has been completed with 25 targets at each bank.

Clay Target Shooting

Doubles Trap Shooting

Doubles trap shooting is a more modified version of singles trap shooting but is on a more difficult level because shooters have to break two targets fired from the trap house at the same time. In this kind of shooting, one clay bird is released from the right side, and simultaneously, another bird is released from the left. The path of the target remains the same, but the main challenge is to see if the shooter can hit both the clay targets at the same time before they hit the ground.

Each target gets scored in an individual manner and not in pairs. Also, in doubles, there is no concept of partners; some shooters make use of a shotgun that has two barrels for doubles and one barrel for singles.

Wobble trap is another exciting shooting trap, and it makes use of five shooters. Each shooter is provided with a shooting station on a different elevation level and is given five shots from each shooting station. The trap for this is present underneath the tallest and most central station, which is usually the third station and is stationary; however, it occasionally oscillates in the vertical and horizontal axis, which gives it the name wobble trap. Once the shooters ask for it to start, the clay is thrown towards you at any angle possible, and after five shots from each station, the game ends.

Handicap Trap Shooting

Handicap trap shooting mostly works in the same way as described above. However, the shooter in this discipline stands a little far away from the trap, which is based on his or her known ability. This known ability is established by simply participating in these games and the shooter’s past performance. A shooter is then given a handicap distance on which he or she has to shoot. A shooter that has a higher handicap will not shoot closer to the eighteen-yard line, whereas the most skilled shooter will be situated on the twenty-seven-yard line, where it is very difficult to win an event.

Skeet Shooting

Skeet shooting also involves shooting clay pigeons from the target; however, its set-up is very different. The skeet set-up consists of a field in which there are a total of eight stations, and each station is numbered. This shooting usually unfolds with a group made of five shooters. They move around in a semicircle on the field, and they change their stations in a sequence.

During this shooting, two machines tend to release their targets, a low house, and a high house. The low house machine releases the target three feet off from the ground, whereas a high house releases the target ten feet from the ground. This target travels at approximately 72km per hour and can travel at any angle. Each of the shooters tends to first shoot a target that originates from a low house, and then they have to hit the target originating from the high house.

Another common practice that comes with skeet shooting is double shooting. Just like we mentioned above, with double, both the targets are released from the houses simultaneously, and this is done at four out of the five stations present.

Singles Trap Shooting

Is Trap Shooting Harder Than Skeet?

In order to understand whether trap or skeet shooting is easier, you must first understand what they are. Understanding the differences between them will help you understand which one of the two is the harder discipline.

Characteristics of Trap Shooting

Trapshooting that goes back to the 1800s is designed to hit clay targets that travel away from the shooter. These clay targets are shot in the air at different angles and make use of an oscillating machine which is called the bunker or house. In this form of discipline, the shooter is aware of the target’s point of origin but does not know the target’s angle. Not knowing the angle creates an intense challenge for even the most professional shooters.

Trap shooters are given five shoots from five different points present on a semi-circular field. Shooters have to rotate their position in a semi-circular pattern, so each shooter gets 25 shots at each round. Although there are several disciplines, trap shooting is generally scored simply one point per broken bird.

Characteristics of Skeet Shooting

Skeet shooting which was developed in the 1920s had one aim behind it: shooting practice for real birds. The hunter who started this recognized that trapshooting does not stimulate the way real birds tend to fly, and so skeet shooting was designed.

In this kind of shooting, the main goal is to hit two clay targets that tend to cross one another. These targets are placed 40 meters apart from one another; one is ten feet high, whereas one is 3.5 feet high. Both targets rise up to a max height of fifteen feet as they reach the field’s center, and the shooter has to aim from seven different positions present on a semi-circle field.

Which Is More Difficult?

The question now is, is trap shooting harder than skeet shooting? The answer is simple, both of these games are very complementary, and both have moving targets that you have to hit. However, we cannot call any of them harder than the other. It all comes down to how much experience you’ve had. Some newcomers find it easy to learn shooting by skeet shooting at a high two or low six, whereas some people like trap shooting with a locked machine and a straight target.

Both of these games have moving targets, and you have to see them before you hit. These shootings both have look points, hold points, and foot points that make it easy to hit the upcoming target and follow through with it. Plus, both require intense concentration. Once you master the basics, both of these shooting disciplines will be easy for you.

However, it can be said that the difficulty level of skeet shooting is slightly more than trap shooting and the reason behind this is very simple. Skeet shooting was designed to mimic the flight of real birds, and it was made for people who want to practice hunting birds before actually hunting them. Skeet shooting also consists of two machines that release the target at a different height, whereas trap shooting has a single machine.

Furthermore, clay targets for trap shooting move at a speed of 65 km/hr, whereas the speed for skeet shooting is higher at 72 km/hr. For this reason, the entire set-up of skeet shooting is trickier to master than trap shooting. Skeet shooting is also very quick, and you have to be more alert, whereas, with trap shooting, you can relax for a few seconds. Once you understand skeet shooting and become an expert at it, trap shooting will be easier to learn.

Sporting Clays – Golf with a Shotgun

Sporting clay is another form of clay pigeon shooting and is also known as golf with a shotgun. The reason behind this golf name is that a typical sporting clay course has ten to fifteen different stations lined up on the natural terrain. In order to keep it safe, the size of the course is not smaller than 25 acres. Unlike trap and skeet shootings, which are shootings of repeatable targets, sporting clay shootings tend to stimulate unpredictable live-quarry shootings and offer you different varieties of angles, elevation, speed, distances, sizes of targets, and trajectories.

When it comes to the layout of this game, it usually has six to ten targets shot per station and is played by a group of six shooters. Targets are thrown in three different manners:

  1. True pair, which means targets are thrown at the same time
  2. Following pair, which means targets are thrown sequentially
  3. On report, which is a unique throwing manner and the second target is thrown at the sound of the firing of the shooter’s gun.

Throughout the shooting course, shooters will see targets coming from either side and have to learn to be quick at shooting.

Conclusion

Trap and skeet shooting both have been around for hundreds of years and have changed and progressed a lot over time, from being a simple training exercise for hunters to be fit for the hunting season to now being an Olympic and competitive sport. These two shotgun sports have some great similarities from their terminology originating in live-bird shooting to several identical rules, but different procedures apply to each as well.