Flight Path


It’s shooting day – school’s over, you’re at the range waiting for the rest of your team to arrive. You look over at the trap house and see the club’s manager and a couple assistants standing there.  They’ve got a bunch of stuff you’ve never seen before; is that a radar gun? What the heck is that pole with the hoop on it? Just what are they doing?!

The answer is easy – they’re setting how the targets fly!

Trapshooting targets might seem like they’re coming out of the house randomly, but in reality they’re set to specific league guidelines. Those guidelines cover the speed, angle, distance, and height clay targets fly so that everyone in the league is shooting at the same targets.


Sometimes you might see your local club managers standing on the #3 post with what looks like some type of strange weapon from a science fiction movie. That’s not one of Luke Skywalker’s blasters – that’s really a radar gun. Trap ranges use it to make sure the target is flying at the correct speed. When released by the trap machine, clay targets are flying at about 42 miles per hour! That’s as fast as a greyhound runs!


Hard right and hard lefts are very challenging targets to hit – they can even seem downright impossible. However, the angles of the targets aren’t as random as they look – in fact they’re limited to about 17° either way by the trap machine, which rotates side-to-side inside the trap house.  Don’t bother trying to predict where the target will come out while you’re shooting though – the machine randomly stops and changes direction so that there’s no way to know just where that next target will come out!


Have you ever wondered just how far the targets fly? Sure you can see them land way out there if you miss, but just how far out is that? Rather than get your measuring tape out, we can tell you that once released from the trap house targets land almost exactly 50 yards away – about half the length of a football field!


Sometimes you might see range personnel standing just a few yards out with a large pole that might even have a hoop on the end. No, they’re not practicing for the circus, they’re actually making sure the height of the targets is set correctly.

As a shooter, you know that targets that are too high or too low can be difficult to see or shoot. That’s why targets must be measured to make sure they’re at the right height. When targets are thrown from the house, they should reach a height of about 9 feet high!

So now you know just what is going on when you see range staff working on the trap machines prior to the start of your team’s league night.  Of course weather and landscape will always vary from day to day and from club to club, but as long as the trap range is set correctly, everyone has an equal shot.