- In trap shooting, the targets are launched from a single “house” or machine, generally away from the shooter.
- In skeet shooting, targets are launched from two “houses” in somewhat “sideways” paths that intersect in front of the shooter.
- Sporting clays includes a more complex course, with many launch points.
There are variations within each group.
Trapshooting is practiced all over the world. Trapshooting variants include but are not limited to international varieties Olympic trap, also known as “International Trap”, “Bunker”, ISSF Trap. and “Trench”; Double trap also an Olympic event. Other non-Olympic include: Down-The-Line, also known as “DTL” and Nordic Trap. American Trap is the predominant version in the United States and Canada. Universal Trench.
American Trap has two independent governing bodies. The Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA) sanctions events throughout the United States and Canada, as well as the Pacific International Trapshooting Association (PITA) which sanctions events on the West Coast of North America.
Trapshooting was originally developed, in part, to augment bird hunting and to provide a method of practice for bird hunters. Use of targets was introduced as a replacement for live pigeons. Indeed, one of the names for the targets used in shooting games is clay pigeons. The layout of a modern trapshooting field differs from that of a skeet field and/or a sporting clays course.
Trapshooting has been a sport since the late 18th century when real birds were used; usually the passenger pigeon, which was extremely abundant at the time. Birds were placed under hats or in traps which were then released. Artificial birds were introduced around the time of the American Civil War. Glass balls (Bogardus) and subsequently “clay” targets were introduced in the later 1800s, gaining wide acceptance.