American Trap is popular throughout the United States and may be the most popular form of clay target shooting in North America. It is widely practiced at clubs and facilities that offer trap shooting.
Trapshooting outside of any official event is common and arguably the majority of American Trap trap shooting. Most official events are governed by the Amateur Trapshooting Association or ATA and it's rules. The ATA is the primary governing body of American trapshooting and is one of the largest shooting sports organizations in the world. The Pacific International Trap Association (PITA) is an independent governing body, and is active in the western US and British Columbia. PITA rules are nearly identical to ATA rules. Trapshooting outside of official events follows ATA rules and norms to widely varying degrees.
The ATA hosts the Grand American World Trap Shooting Championships, which is held every August. After decades in Vandalia, Ohio, the "Grand" moved to the new World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta, Illinois. The Grand attracts as many as 6,000 shooters for the thirteen day event, which is billed as the world's largest shooting event.
The ATA sanctions registered trapshooting competitions at local clubs and facilities throughout North America, and it coordinates Zone competitions leading up to the Grand American each summer along with "Satellite Grands" throughout the U.S. State organizations hold state championship shoots each year, which are coordinated with and sanctioned by the ATA.
American Trap is broken down into three categories: singles, doubles, handicap. The targets are thrown by a machine located at approximately ground level and covered by a "trap house." For singles and doubles, there are five "stations", each 16 yards (15.6 m) behind the trap house. In singles, each competitor shoots at five targets from each station. The trap machine oscillates left to right within a 54 degree arc (up to 27 degrees right and left of center), and at least a 34 degree arc (up to 17 degrees right and left of center)., and the competitor does not know where in that arc the target will emerge. In doubles, the machine does not oscillate, but throws two targets simultaneously with each competitor shooting at five (5) pairs (10 targets) from each station. In the handicap events, the machine operates the same as in singles, but the shooters stand farther away from the trap house.
Recent changes specify a minimum handicap yardage of 18 yards (16.5m). Each time a competitor wins an event or shoots a score of 96 or higher, s/he may earn additional yardage (also known as "getting a punch"), and must thereafter shoot from farther away from the traphouse. The increase in effective distance is designed to increase difficulty. The maximum distance at which a handicap sub-event is shot is 27 yards (24.7 m). Safety regulations prohibit members of a handicap squad from shooting at varying yardages of more than 2-3 yards (1.8m-2.7m) apart, depending upon the handicap classification. In American Trap, each shooter is allowed only one shot per target.
When shooting American Trap for practice or fun, a squad of up to five individuals will shoot a "round" of trap which equals 25 targets per participant. Registered ATA events may require each shooter to shoot 50, 100 or 200 targets, depending upon the scheduled sub-event. Many of these shoots are for personal average or handicap yardage.
ATA rules specify that shotgun gauges larger than 12 gauge (such as 10 gauge) are not permissible. Maximum shot velocity is 1290 FPS (Feet Per Second) for shot charges up to 1 1/8 oz. and 1325 FPS for shot charges up to 1 oz.
A variant of standard trap is Wobble or Wobble trap. The main difference is a more variable target flight path than in standard trap shooting because the trap machine oscillates up and down as well as side to side. Shooters are allowed two shots per pull, and shooters at stations 1 and 5 stand at the 18 yard (16.5 m) mark while positions 2-4 stand at the 17 yard (15.5 m) mark. Although this version of trap is not sanctioned by the ATA, many shooters consider it to be both more challenging and engaging as well as a more realistic preparation for bird hunting.
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