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Article 3 – 2011

person aiming shotgun at target range

Question: I recently went to a clay target range in Brisbane and shot a trap competition over two different fields. I was astounded how much faster the targets were being thrown from the target machine on one ground as opposed to the other. I asked the man in charge and he said the targets were set the same and I was wrong. There were no distance markers to verify this as the range shoots over a valley. I doubt whether I will go back to the club again as it upset me so much. I suggested that the club should invest in a radar gun and was told this method was not legal to set targets. Is this correct?


Answer: I am not sure which type of trap event you participated in, but regardless currently as the rules stand in both Australian Clay Target Association (ACTA) rules on their version of trap (DTL) and also the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) rules on Olympic Trap, the use of a radar gun is not the required method of setting the distance of clay targets. The ACTA throws their trap targets 46 metres and the ISSF throw theirs to 76 metres. There is no mention in either rulebook of a recommended speed. Both bodies state that the targets are to be set in “still” weather conditions and be simply thrown to a distance marker after passing through a prescribed height measured 10 metres from the front edge of the trap house.

“Still” weather conditions on some ranges is a near impossibility at certain times of the year, and as you have found, having flat ground to physically place a distance marker can be difficult if the terrain slopes away in front of the trap. It can be very frustrating watching officials trying to throw targets to the distance peg whilst a raging headwind is blowing. In these changing times where technology is being widely used to make competitions in other sporting events such as cricket, football and tennis more equitable I believe it will only be a matter of time before common sense prevails and the rules in all clay target shooting disciplines are changed to incorporate the use of radar checks on targets to enhance the fairness of competition.

Personally, when I train I always set the targets by speed first and if the weather permits I then check them for distance.

If you are interested then the following target speeds are reasonably accurate when the target is measured as soon as possible from the trajectory of the throwing arm (hence measured inside the trap house). For DTL the target is 72 kmph leaving the throwing arm and for Olympic Trap the target generally varies between 100 kmph to 105 kmph depending on the prescribed height of the target. It takes a little more spring tension to launch the target 76 metres on a high 3.5 metre or a flat 1.5 metre target than it does a medium trajectory 2.5 metre height target. I would stress these speeds are a guide only and should be calibrated on each individual range and brand of trap machine as different machines, different clay targets and even air humidity and altitude can cause slightly varying speeds in relation to distance.

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