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International Trap: A Maddening Sport That Will Hook You Fast

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July 31, 2013

International Trap: A Maddening Sport That Will Hook You Fast

By Phil Bourjaily

Among the wonders of the Prince George’s County Shooting Center is an actual international trap bunker. Bunker trap is what the rest of the world shoots while we are grinding up 100 straights at ATA trap.* It is really hard and really fun. After shooting pretty well on the sporting clays course I needed a lesson in humility so we shot a little bit of bunker. I got my lesson.
International trap is a good news/bad news proposition. The good news is, in international trap, you get two shots at every target.

The bad news is, you need two shots. More than two would be good, except the targets are so fast they are gone before you could fire a third shot anyway.

International targets come out of the house at 60-plus mph, a good 20 mph faster than an American trap target. The angles are twice as sharp and the heights vary, too, from ground-skimmers to climbers that just seem to go up and up forever.

While ATA targets have to fly 48-52 yards from the trap, an international target has to fly 75 meters (82 yards) so they are still rising long past the point where an ATA target levels off and looks fat and crushable.

We will not discuss my scores here except to say they sucked. But, it was as much fun as I have had shooting trap in a long time. You stand 15 meters (16 yards and a bit) behind the traps. As a result, shots with the second barrel are really, really long—especially if you’re not used to the game and your timing is slow. The first time you break a bird with your second shot at 75-80 yards you are hooked on this maddening sport. If there was a bunker near me I would be there every day.

Unfortunately official Olympic-style bunkers are rare in the U.S. because they costs $60,000-$100,000 to build. A bunker setup requires 15 fixed traps and a computer to make sure everyone gets exactly the same birds, but in random order. Only a handful of clubs around the country have bunkers although that is changing as interest in the international game grows. If you get a chance to shoot bunker and your ego can handle it, you should try it once.

*Do not get me wrong. I respect ATA trap. It’s an easy game to shoot but a hard game to win.

Comments (14)

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from Hassan Abdul-Wahid wrote 36 weeks 6 days ago

I recently shot "Continental" style at Oak Tree Gun Club outside of Los Angeles and had a blast. I've been hunting upland game for thirty years and in all that time the only way I tuned up for hunting season was to go out with my dad and brothers and throw up some clays out on BLM land. We've done alright over the years but after reading one of your articles about trap/skeet/clay shooting I thought I'd finally give it a try. I stood out like a soar thumb. I didn't know that people shot clays with their shotguns already mounted. I didn't as I've never once had my shotgun already mounted when anything flushed. One of the guys suggested that I might want to get a coach but I shot alright and I'll be going back if only to stand out like a soar thumb again. I do have one question, which is the best way to get in shooting shape for hunting season: trap/skeet/continental/etc.?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom warner wrote 36 weeks 6 days ago

To Hassan: My preseason practice was shooting skeet with LOW GUN. Why shooters were permitted to shoot with a mounted gun was always a mystery to me. Actually I shot skeet pretty much year around and seldom missed a live bird of any kind. I would imagine that sporting clays would be even better practice in some ways, but I have no experience with that. Not only is skeet excellent practice, but it's lots of fun!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from The Technoid wrote 36 weeks 6 days ago

Phil-
I sometimes shoot bunker at Gator Trap and Skeet in Gainesville, FL. It certainly is a difficult game, but I have discovered the secret to better scores. I wear my golf cleats. That way I don't slip on my tears.
-Bruce

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from The Technoid wrote 36 weeks 6 days ago

Phil-
I sometimes shoot bunker at Gator Trap and Skeet in Gainesville, FL. It certainly is a difficult game, but I have discovered the secret to better scores. I wear my golf cleats. That way I don't slip on my tears.
-Bruce

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Treestand wrote 36 weeks 6 days ago

We have a TRAP Field out side of Central Fl, It just looks to me a Place to Show off your Hi-Dollar O&U Shotgun! Some of the old Boys come out here with Win/Rem Field Grade Pump shotguns and are looked at as Low Class, but can shoot the Pants off most, Its NO place for the Common Man!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from philbourjaily wrote 36 weeks 6 days ago

Hassan -- Tom Warner has it right: low gun skeet is the best game for hunting practice. Sporting Clays is very good, too, perhaps better and more fun, but it costs a lot more and takes more time, too. Don't be afraid to get a lesson from a coach. I have had lots of lessons and always learn something new.
Bruce -- thanks for visiting the blog. I wore Topsiders when we shot bunker but I can see where spikes would be better.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 36 weeks 6 days ago

Ah yes, nothing better than to be humbled by a shooting game ...... Hassan: I shoot sporting mostly, low gun and pick the stations that replicate field shots. More variety and you can practice a certain shot if it is giving you fits :) Low gun on skeet is an excellant way to get ready for the field too !
Phil: I know your score but being a Christian prevents me from sharing it with these kind folks !

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 36 weeks 6 days ago

Had a USAF Col from Tx who showed me his silver retirement fund he won and was constantly adding to by winning at international trap. He was a live pigeon shooter too.

As Treestand wrote neither of these games are for the "Common" Shooter.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ncarl wrote 36 weeks 5 days ago

I'm a pretty common person and I register 5,000+ ATA registered targets a year. When it comes to trap ranges their is quite a gap in quality which usually directly correlates with the quality of shooters who frequent that range so "shooting the pants" of of somebody is a relative term. Lastly, Phil said it well "it's easy to shoot but hard to win". So before you say it's an easy game, shoot 200 straight singles targets because that's what it takes to win a singles state championship in my part of the country. It's not about how easy it is to break one, its keeping focused with big money and glory on the line. Can't tell you how many times I've heard the old timers say "their easy to hit and easy to miss"

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Edward J. Palumbo wrote 36 weeks 5 days ago

I hadn't fired my shotgun in a great while, spending my time on the rifle and pistol ranges, but the club had installed some improvements and new features and my son is a shotgunner. Given a rare opportunity to shoot together, I cycled through two boxes of shells at Continental Trap, and it was an afternoon of embarrassment for me at the Tri-County Gun Club. Utter humiliation! By the time I shouldered my shotgun and pointed at the quickly disappearing clays, I was convinced I was moving in slow motion. I either need practice or therapy, but I'm out of my league. I must admit, I can't do that badly and not strive for better, so I'm going back to improve.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 36 weeks 5 days ago

Ask yourself what the game bird angles you expect to get in the Fall, and shoot the appropriate clay target sport. For waterfowl it could be 5 stand is the best practice. My hunting is mainly upland birds the dogs flush in front of me. For that trap works fine throwing clays out at a 70 degree radius in front of you, and I practice with a low gun. I even take the speaker activated mike far out to the side, and get more extreme angles. For doves? Skeet can provide the angles you will be shooting at the most. And always hold a low gun.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Undercurrent wrote 36 weeks 4 days ago

interesting Phil,you shoud have taken Heavey with you since he claims to live right down the road aways. Just a word of caution to those of you that may want to try out this facility,since this is on the outskirts of D.C.,yes that DC as in the NATIONS capital be aware that parts of 295 BW Parkway are patroled by the U.S.PARK POLICE as the are considered FEDERAL PROPERTY so tranporting a weapon of any kind in your vehicle and getting stopped will not end pleasantly if you get my drift,so a little time with a map or mapquest can get you a route around this road.
Having lived in the area my whole life even I wasn't aware of that fact until an off duty local police officer got arrested during a traffic stop while carrying his service weapon. Nice upgrade for a facility thats been around quite awhile.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hassan Abdul-Wahid wrote 36 weeks 4 days ago

Thanks, Phil and everybody. I think a coach might be a good idea.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 35 weeks 5 days ago

I shot trap yesterday using a low gun getting ready for the soon to open bird season, and did very poorly. My evaluation was....because you feel you have less time to shoot than with a fully mounted gun I mounted toooo fast, and "snap shot" a lot. That gives you but a nano sec. to be on the bird. Much better to get a view of the birds direction while mounting smoothly in that direction, then having the fraction of a sec. longer to be in the zone with your muzzle. I will return to the club soon.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Mark-1 wrote 36 weeks 6 days ago

Had a USAF Col from Tx who showed me his silver retirement fund he won and was constantly adding to by winning at international trap. He was a live pigeon shooter too.

As Treestand wrote neither of these games are for the "Common" Shooter.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hassan Abdul-Wahid wrote 36 weeks 6 days ago

I recently shot "Continental" style at Oak Tree Gun Club outside of Los Angeles and had a blast. I've been hunting upland game for thirty years and in all that time the only way I tuned up for hunting season was to go out with my dad and brothers and throw up some clays out on BLM land. We've done alright over the years but after reading one of your articles about trap/skeet/clay shooting I thought I'd finally give it a try. I stood out like a soar thumb. I didn't know that people shot clays with their shotguns already mounted. I didn't as I've never once had my shotgun already mounted when anything flushed. One of the guys suggested that I might want to get a coach but I shot alright and I'll be going back if only to stand out like a soar thumb again. I do have one question, which is the best way to get in shooting shape for hunting season: trap/skeet/continental/etc.?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom warner wrote 36 weeks 6 days ago

To Hassan: My preseason practice was shooting skeet with LOW GUN. Why shooters were permitted to shoot with a mounted gun was always a mystery to me. Actually I shot skeet pretty much year around and seldom missed a live bird of any kind. I would imagine that sporting clays would be even better practice in some ways, but I have no experience with that. Not only is skeet excellent practice, but it's lots of fun!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from The Technoid wrote 36 weeks 6 days ago

Phil-
I sometimes shoot bunker at Gator Trap and Skeet in Gainesville, FL. It certainly is a difficult game, but I have discovered the secret to better scores. I wear my golf cleats. That way I don't slip on my tears.
-Bruce

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from The Technoid wrote 36 weeks 6 days ago

Phil-
I sometimes shoot bunker at Gator Trap and Skeet in Gainesville, FL. It certainly is a difficult game, but I have discovered the secret to better scores. I wear my golf cleats. That way I don't slip on my tears.
-Bruce

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Treestand wrote 36 weeks 6 days ago

We have a TRAP Field out side of Central Fl, It just looks to me a Place to Show off your Hi-Dollar O&U Shotgun! Some of the old Boys come out here with Win/Rem Field Grade Pump shotguns and are looked at as Low Class, but can shoot the Pants off most, Its NO place for the Common Man!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from philbourjaily wrote 36 weeks 6 days ago

Hassan -- Tom Warner has it right: low gun skeet is the best game for hunting practice. Sporting Clays is very good, too, perhaps better and more fun, but it costs a lot more and takes more time, too. Don't be afraid to get a lesson from a coach. I have had lots of lessons and always learn something new.
Bruce -- thanks for visiting the blog. I wore Topsiders when we shot bunker but I can see where spikes would be better.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 36 weeks 6 days ago

Ah yes, nothing better than to be humbled by a shooting game ...... Hassan: I shoot sporting mostly, low gun and pick the stations that replicate field shots. More variety and you can practice a certain shot if it is giving you fits :) Low gun on skeet is an excellant way to get ready for the field too !
Phil: I know your score but being a Christian prevents me from sharing it with these kind folks !

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ncarl wrote 36 weeks 5 days ago

I'm a pretty common person and I register 5,000+ ATA registered targets a year. When it comes to trap ranges their is quite a gap in quality which usually directly correlates with the quality of shooters who frequent that range so "shooting the pants" of of somebody is a relative term. Lastly, Phil said it well "it's easy to shoot but hard to win". So before you say it's an easy game, shoot 200 straight singles targets because that's what it takes to win a singles state championship in my part of the country. It's not about how easy it is to break one, its keeping focused with big money and glory on the line. Can't tell you how many times I've heard the old timers say "their easy to hit and easy to miss"

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Edward J. Palumbo wrote 36 weeks 5 days ago

I hadn't fired my shotgun in a great while, spending my time on the rifle and pistol ranges, but the club had installed some improvements and new features and my son is a shotgunner. Given a rare opportunity to shoot together, I cycled through two boxes of shells at Continental Trap, and it was an afternoon of embarrassment for me at the Tri-County Gun Club. Utter humiliation! By the time I shouldered my shotgun and pointed at the quickly disappearing clays, I was convinced I was moving in slow motion. I either need practice or therapy, but I'm out of my league. I must admit, I can't do that badly and not strive for better, so I'm going back to improve.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 36 weeks 5 days ago

Ask yourself what the game bird angles you expect to get in the Fall, and shoot the appropriate clay target sport. For waterfowl it could be 5 stand is the best practice. My hunting is mainly upland birds the dogs flush in front of me. For that trap works fine throwing clays out at a 70 degree radius in front of you, and I practice with a low gun. I even take the speaker activated mike far out to the side, and get more extreme angles. For doves? Skeet can provide the angles you will be shooting at the most. And always hold a low gun.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Undercurrent wrote 36 weeks 4 days ago

interesting Phil,you shoud have taken Heavey with you since he claims to live right down the road aways. Just a word of caution to those of you that may want to try out this facility,since this is on the outskirts of D.C.,yes that DC as in the NATIONS capital be aware that parts of 295 BW Parkway are patroled by the U.S.PARK POLICE as the are considered FEDERAL PROPERTY so tranporting a weapon of any kind in your vehicle and getting stopped will not end pleasantly if you get my drift,so a little time with a map or mapquest can get you a route around this road.
Having lived in the area my whole life even I wasn't aware of that fact until an off duty local police officer got arrested during a traffic stop while carrying his service weapon. Nice upgrade for a facility thats been around quite awhile.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hassan Abdul-Wahid wrote 36 weeks 4 days ago

Thanks, Phil and everybody. I think a coach might be a good idea.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 35 weeks 5 days ago

I shot trap yesterday using a low gun getting ready for the soon to open bird season, and did very poorly. My evaluation was....because you feel you have less time to shoot than with a fully mounted gun I mounted toooo fast, and "snap shot" a lot. That gives you but a nano sec. to be on the bird. Much better to get a view of the birds direction while mounting smoothly in that direction, then having the fraction of a sec. longer to be in the zone with your muzzle. I will return to the club soon.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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