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.