The clay shooting sports use the trap thrower to launch clay targets, otherwise known as clay pigeons, in various ways during shooting and marksmanship competitions.

Trap throwers come in different shapes, sizes, and hold and launch varying numbers of clay targets. These clay pigeon throwers are used by amateurs and in professional competitions, and are even part of the Olympic games.

Clay pigeon shooting has a number of disciplines, yet all of them use a clay thrower to launch clay targets.

Facts About the Trap Thrower You Should Know

trap thrower

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The trap thrower is a device ranging from a simple machine to an advanced system complete with computerized operation and monitoring.

Typically, most trap throwers are rotational, spring loaded, flywheel devices that launch clay targets (clay pigeons) one or two at a time to a distance of up to 100 meters. The clay targets are held in the device, which is known as a “house.” Clay targets are launched in various ways, including difference in speeds, trajectories, and elevations.

Some machines are hand-loaded, hand-cocked, and hand-released and will release one clay target at a time. These are usually used for personal practice, although sometimes they can be used for sport events. For competitions, the more sophisticated fully automatic devices operate using electricity or are pneumatically functional and can hold up to 600 clay targets at a time. These machines can be operated by remote control or even the sound of a human voice (voice-actuated control).

In Olympic competitions, banks of trap throwers are used that are all calibrated with computers that monitor the competition in the interest of accuracy in scoring. In the sport of clay shooting, the different disciplines offer variations of the game.

Skeet throwers are another machine that also launches clay targets in a way very similar to the trap throwers, except variations for the game of skeet are incorporated into the design.

Competitions, Targets and the Trap Thrower

The clay thrower will launch your clay targets in the mode and manner in which you program it or operate it manually. The targets you use will be different for the various disciplines in clay shooting and the competition that takes place. There are major differences in the disciplines, and the way clay targets are used as well as the dimensions of the clay targets themselves.

In order to understand the differences in the disciplines and the machines used to throw the targets, let’s take a look at some of the targets and competitions here:

1. Trap Shooting

In this discipline, targets are thrown one or two at a time from one or more trap throwers located 15 meters from the shooter. The clay targets are thrown at various elevations, speeds, angles, and trajectories. Included as sub-disciplines in this category are down-the-line, universal trench, double rise, double trap, automatic ball trap, and others.

trap and skeet shooting

Image via Cabelas

Standard clay targets are used for these disciplines, and the dimensions of these include a weight of no more than 105 grams and a diameter of 110 centimeters, with a height of 25-26 millimeters in international competition. In American competition, the dimensions of the clay pigeons are limited to a maximum weight of 100 grams, with a diameter of 108 millimeters, and a height of 28-29 millimeter.

2. Skeet Shooting

Skeet is a term that has a Scandinavian origin, although the sport began in the United States. Clay targets are thrown one or two at a time from a pair of trap throwers located 40 meters apart from each other in a semi-circle array. There are seven positions from which shooting is performed in a skeet shooting set-up. All of the targets are thrown at pre-determined trajectories and regulated speeds.

There are three main variations of skeet shooting; English Skeet, Olympic skeet, and NSSA skeet. In the NSSA competitions, combinations of single and double clay targets are used to form a total of 25 targets for each round. There is also an eighth shooting position in NSSA and Olympic skeet. Standard clay targets are used of the same dimensions as those of trap shooting.

When Looking for a Trap Thrower

There are different suppliers of trap throwers available, either for personal, individual models or for those used in group or competitive events. Take some time to evaluate your needs in the world of clay shooting sports and consider what you require, what you can reasonably afford, and what level you plan on taking your participation to eventually.

You may be a beginner and only need a trap thrower to practice with, or you may be an event organizer and you want professional, regulation equipment suitable for competitions. In any event, an accurate appraisal of what you need combined with preparing yourself sufficiently to meet those needs should be all you require to be ready with a trap thrower you will benefit from.

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