Trap Shooting Etiquette: 5 Rules for Proper Clay Pigeon Shooting

Clay pigeon shooting is a thrilling sport, but you need to keep proper etiquette in mind at the shooting range. We listed the top five rules you need to follow but make sure you read the local range’s rules and etiquette as well.

Proper Trap Shooting Etiquette

1. Basic Firearm Safety Rules

As a clay pigeon shooter, you must know all about firearm safety when you are carrying a shotgun. However, firearm safety cannot be half measure. It is an enormous responsibility on your part; therefore, you must dutifully follow basic shotgun handling etiquette, which includes the following:

  • Always keep the shotgun unloaded when not in use.
  • Keep your fingers off the gun’s trigger to make the sport safe for yourself and for other shooters, staff members, volunteers, etc., that are present at the firing range.
  • Always ensure that the shotgun is pointing in a safe direction and not aiming at anything.
  • Even if the gun is unloaded, consider it loaded and if not in use, keep the action open for safety reasons.
  • Ensure no shells are left in the gun when moving from post to post.
  • Do not raise the gun until your turn.
  • Regardless of whether you have a pump-action, automatic, or manual shotgun, ensure that you point the muzzle in a safe direction while moving from one post to another.

Gun safety also involves how you properly mount and hold a shotgun, which is discussed in our relevant article.


2. Always Use Protection Equipment

There is a strong possibility that you may get hurt from the ejected shell of another shooter’s shotgun. Therefore you must always make sure to wear proper eye and ear protection. Most clubs usually have such equipment available on the site, and you can easily rent or buy it.

If you do not use ear protection gear then you are at the risk of harming your hearing because gun shots can get too loud for your eardrum to handle. Be sure to use earplugs or ear defenders when you are at the station.

Similarly, eye protection is necessary as well because this keeps dust away from getting in your eyes which can make your aim inaccurate. Also, shooting glasses are necessary if someone does not aim properly and can hurt your eyes so eye goggles provide you with an added protection.

3. Show Respect to Fellow Shooters

Good sportsmanship is essential for making a shooting sport enjoyable for everyone. Like you, other shooters are there to enjoy trap, skeet or sporting clays respectively. Therefore, you should respect the other shooters present to avoid ruining anyone’s fun.

  • Refrain from taking your cell phone out while shooting, and if you need to use it for any reason, keep it on silent mode so it doesn’t distract anyone.
  • Avoid loading or shouldering the shotgun until the previous shooter is not finished completely.
  • You must not distract other shooters present and try to stay quiet while others are shooting.

Trap and Skeet shooter

4. Load One Shell at a Time

While you do have the option to load two shells simultaneously, it is much more considerate to load one shell at a time. If there are any delay issues, you can load the gun. However, only close your action when facing the trap at the station. Try not to lock it in a way that it disturbs the other shooters.

A good way to reload your gun quickly is by keeping shells within reach. Try not to place the shell box on the ground as it will take more time for you to reach it and reload. Suddenly bending down can also cause a blood rush to the head, which can disorient you for a bit, affecting your aim.

Shell pockets or shell pouches are convenient accessories for keeping shells close by. You just have to reach into the pocket and reload your gun. It is much easier and safer than constantly going back to get more shells.


5. Maintain a Squad Rhythm

Trapshooting requires perfect hand-eye coordination, alertness when shooting, and quick reflexes. Establishing a rhythm with other shooters is necessary to keep track of your turn and not keep other people waiting for their turns.

Make sure your gear is comfortable, and the gun is working correctly. Also, constantly changing the amount of time you take to shoot can become very distracting for other shooters and create a feeling of displeasure.