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The Trap Ranges and Rifle/Pistol Range are open to the public on Tuesdays and Saturdays. See our hours page for operating hours.


Four trap shooters on a Sunnyvale Rod & Gun Club trap field

The game of trap is simple in its concept. There are 5 shooters at 5 stations, 16 yards from the trap house. Each shooter shoots one round at each of 5 targets at each station. There are a total of 25 targets in a box of shotgun shells and a round of trap. Shooters are required to wear eye and ear protection. Shooters load only one round at a time when it is their turn to shoot. When not shooting shooter keep their actions open and the gun pointed in a safe direction. Guns are pointed down range at all times.

The shooter who starts the round on station one is the Squad Leader, He or she will ask the other shooters if the squad is ready, "Squad Ready?". When the squad is ready, the Squad Leader then asks the if the Puller and Scorer are ready: "Puller and Scorer ready?" After the Puller and Scorer have replied that they are ready, the Squad Leader says, "Eyes forward, see a bird". The puller then launches a clay pigeon from the trap house for the squad to see.

Trap field from the target's perspective

The Squad Leader then calls "Pull," shoots the first bird, and the round begins. The shooters at stands 2 through 5 shoot in sequential order. When all members of a squad have shot at 5 targets they advance to the next station with their chambers empty, actions open and guns pointed in a safe direction, 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-5,and 5-1. While shooters are moving from station to station the Scorer will call out your scores from that station. When the Squad Leader has determined that all shooters are in place. The Squad Leader calls for a bird and the station is shot. After the Squad Leader has shot station 5 the round is over.

Microphone for voice activation of targets
The clay targets are propelled by a voice activated machine at most clubs. Some still use a button pushed by the puller. In either case the shooter gives the traditionally gives the command "Pull" to launch a bird. Other commands heard are a grunt or "Ah". The trap launcher oscillates left to right continuously so that birds are launched at random angles from the house. This is a reactive sport. The shooter must see the target and react to shoot it in its direction of travel. The range of oscillation is such that from stand 1 the bird will appear to fly any from straight away for the shooter to breaking hard to the left. From stand 5 the bird will appear to fly straight away from the shooter to breaking hard to the right.


In handicap the distances are increased. The shooters are grouped by skill and stand farther from the house. The distances are increased in one yard increments up to 27 yards. Shooters are grouped together by skill. All shooters in a squad must be with 2 yards of each other. The targets still oscillate in the same fashion as Singles. The shooters still move from station to station in the same pattern as Singles.


Shooter shooting double trap

In doubles the targets are launched 2 at a time from the house. They fly in a fixed pattern and do not oscillate as in Singles or Handicap. The 2 birds fly in a forked pattern from the trap house. Shooters stand at the 16 yard line and move in the same pattern as Singles or Doubles. There are a total of 50 targets in doubles.

The Equipment


Rack of shotguns

Trap guns tend to have longer barrels than field guns. This is to create a tight pattern at distances as far as 50 yards. Sunnyvale Rod and Gun Club requires a minimum barrel length of 26". Trap guns will have a higher comb than field guns so that the sight picture is better and the gun doesn't kick the shooter's cheek as much. The most common gun used for trap is a 12 gauge shotgun. Single and double barrel guns are both used. Pump, Automatic and Breech loaders are all used in this sport. Some people use trap as a way to improve their field skills. As such they may use a 20 ga., 28 ga., or even .410 shotgun.


Ammunition used for trap is different than field loads. Since the goal here is break a clay target and not bring down a goose, we use a lighter load with smaller shot than most hunters. A typical trap load is 1 to 1 1/8 oz of 7 1/2 shot at 1200 fps. The Sunnyvale Rod and Gun Club requires a maximum load of a 3 dram powder charge and shot not larger than #7-½. The combinations frequently seen are #8 shot at 1100 fps with a modified choke for singles, #7-½ shot at 1200 fps with a full choke for handicap, and a combination of these to loads and chokes for doubles.


Many shooters find a vest helpful for trap. These typically have some padding on the the shoulder to help with the recoil. The other purpose of the vest is to help the shooter mount the gun consistently. Another frequently seen item is a set of pouches to hold full and empty shells.

More Information

For more information on trap shooting please visit:
The South Bay Trap League
The Amateur Trapshooters Association

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