Clay target shooting or clay pigeon shooting as it is also known has its roots in Edwardian and Victorian England.
It was in the early 1800’s that the first live pigeon shooting club came into being.
The live birds were held in boxes called traps and when the shooter was ready he would call for his helper to pull a section of the trap away, thereby releasing thebird.
These 3 words are still used today ‘Trap’ (the machine which holds the clay targets), ‘Pull’ (the method used to call for a clay target) & ‘Bird’ (the name used for the clay target).
By around 1870 there had been attempts to produce artificial targets, one such method used was glass balls, either plain or filled with feathers. Later an American inventor George Ligowski came up with a baked clay disk modeled on clamshells he used to skim across water. Ligowskis’ ‘clay pigeon’ quickly replaced the glass balls and just as quickly replaced live birds.

Today clay targets are made from a mixture of lime and pitch, also depending on the discipline that is being shot can vary in diameter and thickness, although all are circular and generally either black or orange in colour.
All targets are thrown from the trap by means of a spring loaded throwing arm reaching distances in some cases up to 135 metres.

In the main there are two types of trap manual and automatic, the manual trap has to be cocked and the clay targets placed on the arm by hand. The bird is then released by the operator or trapper as he/she is known.

The automatic trap has a central carousel containing in some cases 400 clays the trap being operated by electricity.
The target is released by a remote switch either hard wired to the trap or in some cases radio controlled.
After release the trap automatically loads another clay, cocking the spring loaded arm at the same time.

There are many different disciplines within clay target shooting, some of which are sufficiently difficult to be included in the Olympic Games, these are just a few to whet your appetite.
Down The Line Ball TrapEnglish SkeetEnglish Sporting, Olympic Skeet, Olympic Trench, FITASC, Double Rise.
The first 4 disciplines are generally the most popular, clicking on them will open a new window with a brief simplified explanation.