“You do what?” Trap and Skeet Shooting

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The patches that an experienced shooter will receive when they accomplish certain goals.

Ashley Evert, Assistant L&A&E Editor

“You Do What?” is one incredibly un-athletic girl’s journey to explore alternative sports.  Check back every week for my take on sports I once knew nothing about and now find fascinating.

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked, “Track? He does track?” when I tell people that my brother does trap, I’d be a much richer than the average college student.  Alas, I am penniless and left tiredly explaining the sport of trap and skeet shooting.

Going to a shooting competition is a lot like watching paint dry; there are a few exciting drips when you watch the people you know get a great score, and the rest of just a lot of gunpowder and sunburn.  My entire family shoots, so I tag along and inappropriately yell, “Yeah, Team Brad!” while marking little x’s for hits and o’s for losses on the bookmark of whatever novel I am reading to pass the time between rounds.

It took me a while to realize how much time, focus and dedication goes into this sport.  As disinterested as I was at first, I really have gained a deep appreciation for shooters.  They spend hours learning muscle memory and concentration techniques and thousands of dollars on shotguns, special colored glasses, customized hearing protection and ammunition.

Trap shooting refers to the event in which shooters are situated behind a trap house and shoot at the fluorescent orange, biodegradable targets (originally glass balls with feathers inside that floated to the ground beautifully when hit) that fly out of the house when the shooter calls, “Pull.”

Skeet shooting is a little different in the way that there are two houses, one on either side of the shooter, so the targets whiz across the field instead of straight away from the shooter.  The goal is simple in each version of the sport: hit every target.

Competitors shoot four rounds of 25 targets.  They can earn a patch for shooting 25 targets straight, 50 targets, 75 and 100.  These patches are proudly displayed on their vests.  The best shooters on the competitive level generally shoot 98, 99 or 100 out of 100.  They can choose to shoot singles, doubles with a combined score from their partner, or as a team of five.

I love that shooting is mainly an individual sport, so if you mess up, you can’t blame it on an untalented teammate.  I am also drawn to this sport because it is something that men and women can both participate in equally.

I see so many husbands and wives shooting at competitions, along with brothers and sisters.  The competitive nature of beating your own personal score along with beating whoever you’re with is really exciting.

The trap and skeet community is unlike other sports fans I have encountered.  There is never any bad sportsmanship and everyone is willing to share a story or one of their secrets for shooting better.  It is heartwarming to see so many gray bearded men pass down their wisdom to bright-eyed middle school students who dream of hitting their 25-straight milestone.

Trap and skeet shooting is an inspiring sport of personal discipline and studied skill in which many generations can participate.  For now, I am content observing and cheering on my family.  Maybe one day I will pick up a shotgun and try my hand at becoming the next Annie Oakley.