The only things all three disciplines have in common are shotguns and clay targets...
Lets start with TRAP... With trap you shoot from 16yds behind where the targets are launched. You do not know exactly what angle the target is going to fly so your job is to see the target, catch up with it and shoot it out of the sky (usually about 40yds from the shooter.) It's a game of target acquisition and rythmn. Fairly easy to become mediocre and very difficult to master... Most everyone shoots 12 gauge. As the game progresses the shooters move from left to right after each set of 5 shots have been fired (the shooter on the far right moves to the far left.) Most shooters use a tight (full) choke.
SKEET: Skeet is a game of speed and leads. All targets are shot at 10 to 20 yds from the shooter. The field has 8 stations in a semi-circle. All targets must fly thru an imaginary 3' hoop in the center of the field about 10' in the air (they actually put the hoop up when calibrating the throwers.) You always know where the targets are going. Station 1 is far left, under the "high house" (the high house launches targets from about 8' in the air toward the low house). The stations (shooting positions) increase in number around to station 7 at the "low house" (targets launch from 3' above ground toward the high house). Station 8 is in the middle of the field and the targets fly over the shooter's head (or nearly so). At stations 1, 2, 6, and 7 you get 2 targets launched at the same time. You have to shoot the target flying away from you first, then catch up to and engage the target speeding by you. In Skeet you get one "do over" (if you miss a target you get to shoot at it again.) If you break all 24 targets without missing you get a second shot at station 8 from the low house (hence "happiness is 2 at low 8" means you had a perfect round). At stations 1 and 7 the birds are flying directly away from you so no "lead" is necessary. At station 4 you have to lead the target by about 6' in order to break the clay. Skeet is a game that's difficult to get mediocre but once there it's fairy easy to master (at which time you start using a smaller shotgun - the really good guys use a .410). Most shooters use a Improved cylinder or skeet choke.
As mentioned it's a course of fire where every station at every course is different. They are trying to mimic hunting situations. In this game there are 4 types of shots, singles (say "pull" you get only one target), "true doubles" (say "pull" and get 2 targets launched at the same time in different directions), "following doubles" (say "pull" and you get one target followed immediately by the second target), and "report doubles" (the second target is launched after you shoot at the first target.)
Some targets are launched straight up, some are launched toward the shooter, some cross from the right, some from the left, some are rolled along the ground... Most shooters change chokes depending on the particular station...
Sporting clays is a humbling experience....
Last edited by birdman; 12-09-2008 at 11:32 AM..