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Guns for These Games

While you can shoot any of these games—especially five stand—with your favorite bird shotgun, if you want to be competitive in trap, skeet, or sporting clays, you'll want a gun tailored to them. These shotguns offer little differences—like weight and chokes—which equal to big advantages when you pull the trigger.

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Trap guns

These are heavy, have one or two long barrels (up to 34"), tight chokes and are almost always twelve gauges. Because of their weight, once you get these guns going, they swing smoothly—and stay swinging. This makes it easier to follow through on shots and soaks up a lot of recoil. Trap guns also have relatively straight stocks. This helps them shoot high so you use a technique known as "floating your target."

Image of Trap guns range

This is the original type of clay pigeon shooting. It began in the 18th century and for decades used live birds. Artificial targets—glass balls and then clay discs—were introduced in the late 1800s. By the first World War, trap shooting had evolved into the two main ways it's practiced today. Practiced at most shooting facilities in the U.S. It uses a single launcher located in a low trap house to throw clay targets away from shooters standing in a line of five stations. The trap house is in front of this line of shooters. As the game progresses each shooter stands at a station, fires at a series of targets (each presented at different angles), and moves right to the next station.

Skeet guns

These are also heavy, but their barrels are 26"-30" long and their chokes are very open. Like trap guns, their weight soaks up a lot of recoil and helps you to keep the gun moving on crossing shots. Compared to trap guns, their stocks may have a bit more drop. While twelve is the most common gauge for skeet, people also shoot small bores and .410s.

image of skeet guns range area

Is the second oldest type of clay pigeon shooting. It was created in the early 1920s by a grouse hunter looking to sharpen his skills. In 1926, a shooting magazine introduced the sport to America and offered $100 to anyone who could come up with a name for it. "Skeet", derived from the Norwegian for "shoot", won. There are two types of skeet: American and Olympic. Both use a pair launchers set in two different height towers positioned across from each other. As shooters follow a course from one tower to the other, the launchers throw clay pigeons at a variety of angles designed to simulate the shots upland hunters encounter in the field. Compared to trap, Skeet targets are thrown closer to the shooters and in a wider variety of scenarios.

Sporting Clay guns

These are lighter than trap and skeet guns, have more choke in them skeet guns, and are stocked more like hunting guns. Barrels are usually 28"-32".

image of sporting clays range area

The third major type of clay pigeon shooting and the youngest. Sporting clays was developed in the U.K. and brought to America in 1980. Since then, it has exploded across the country to become one of the most popular shooting sports in the country.

Sporting clays is shot on a course made of 10-15 stations. These stations are laid out one after another, like holes on a golf course. Some stations feature one, two, or more clay-pigeon launchers, all throwing targets at different heights and angles. There are no official rules regarding how these launchers must be positioned, so no two sporting-clays courses are the same.

Compared to trap and skeet, sporting clays offers the widest variety of hunting-style shots. This makes it great way to sharpen your skills for the season or to keep them sharp all year..

Five Stand guns

If you were to put trap, skeet, and sporting clays in a blender, Five Stand would pour out. It features a line of five "stands" for shooters and a number of launchers arranged in front of the shooters, to their sides and even behind them. Shooter are presented five targets at each station, 25 targets in all.

image of 5 stand

Five stand is more exciting than trap and throws a wider variety of patterns than skeet. It's faster and cheaper than sporting clays. For hunters, it's a great game, giving you the chance to work on shots simulating everything from fleeing rabbits and flushing to quail to ducks dropping into a set of decoys.