Trapshooting was developed in England late in the 18th century.
The first targets were live pigeons, which were released from cages known as traps. The sport was first practiced in the United States early in the 19th century and was popular by midcentury in a number of areas, notably Cincinnati, Ohio, and the New York City area.
In subsequent decades the scarcity of live pigeons prompted trapshooting enthusiasts in the United States to create ingenious artificial targets.
The substitute targets first tried included glass balls filled with feathers and solid iron pigeons mounted on long metal rods.
Platter-shaped clay pigeons were developed about 1870. The subsequent introduction of standard-ized traps facilitated nationwide competition. The first U.S. national championship match took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1885.
The Amateur Trapshooting Association, with headquarters in Vandalia, Ohio, is the governing body of U.S. and Canadian trapshooting.
Under its auspices numerous trapshooting competitions, notably the Grand American Handicap, take place each year.
Trapshooting competition takes three forms: singles, handicap, and double-target shooting. In all three the targets are hurled from one trap, and 12-gauge shotguns are used.
In handicap trapshooting, contestants possessing superior records must shoot from stations located 17 to 27 yd (15.54 to 24.68 m) behind the trap. The added distance, or handicap, enables trapshooters of only average ability to compete on equal terms with experts. In double-target shooting, the trap springs two clay pigeons into the air simultaneously in different directions.
As in skeet, the objective in trap shooting is the breaking of a fast moving clay target. The targets used in trap are the same as those used in skeet. Beyond these factors, however, the two sports are markedly different.
Unlike skeet, trap contains an element of the unpredictable.
The basic difference between skeet shooting and trapshooting is that in skeet, most of the targets are crossing targets and in trapshooting, all of the targets are outgoing targets.