Terms And Slang For Clay Shooting (For Reference!)

Terms And Slang For Clay Shooting

A sport that anyone can enjoy, clay shooting involves using a shotgun to shoot clay targets out of the air. Safe, thrilling, and challenging, all you need to get started is the willingness to improve your skills with practice. However, as with any game, there are specific phrases and terminologies you should know before taking up clay shooting.

Look, as with most sports, there is a lingo to get along with it. For example, in football, there are phrases like “in the box”, “long ball”, “diving header” and “the shot-stopper”. Likewise, clay pigeon shooting is a popular fun sport that requires its own jargon.

Well, of course, it’s a relatively small sport compared to the likes of golf and football, but it’s growing fast. This article seeks to explore the various terms and slang that you might want to know regarding clay pigeon shooting before actually giving it a go. So let’s get started!

Clay Shooting Organizations

Clay Shooting Organizations

One of the main aspects to know about clay shooting is the bodies and organizations governing the sport. There are a number of clay shooting organizations that promote the sport and provide facilities for people to take part. These organizations typically have a number of affiliated clubs which members can join, and they also organize events and competitions.

If you’re interested in taking up clay shooting or are already a keen shooter, then joining one of these organizations is a great way to meet like-minded people and improve your skills. Some of these organizations include:

  • CPSA: Clay Pigeon Shooting Association
  • BSSC: British Shooting Sport Council
  • British Shooting: for Olympic shooting in pistol, shotgun, and riffle
  • ICSI: Institute of Clay Shooting Instructors
  • APSI: Association of Professional Shooting Instructors

Clay Shooting Disciplines and Game Types

Clay Shooting Disciplines and Game Types

There are several different clay shooting disciplines and game types that shooters can take part in. The most common disciplines are the trap, skeet, and sporting clays. However, there’re multiple game types that can be played within these disciplines.

Trap Shooting

Trap is where clay targets are launched by automatic machines from a single point known as the trap house. In this, the shooters must hit the targets before they reach the ground.

The sport began way back in the 18th century and it has two variations, namely Olympic Trap, and American Trap.

Skeet Shooting

Skeet is similar to trap, but in this case, the targets come from two points. It was first practiced in the 1920s and is therefore regarded as the seconded discipline of clay shooting.

There’re two variations in skeet shooting: Olympic and American. Both variations use a pair of launchers that are set at two towers of different heights. As such, clays are thrown at a variety of angles to imitate the shots taken by hunters in real-life bird hunting.

American Trap

In American trap shooting, the targets are released from a trap house at set intervals, and shooters take turns firing at them from a fixed position. In other words, each shooter will have the opportunity to shoot at five targets from each stand.

Sporting Clays

Sporting clays is a more complex game made of 10-15 stations, with targets being launched from all sorts of angles and distances. While each station presents a different shot, the targets are usually released at different angles and heights and can be flying away or incoming.

After all, sporting clay courses are typically set up to simulate the hunting of game birds, which can be very challenging.

Bunker Trap

Bunker Trap

The Bunker trap is similar to the American trap, but with five shooters firing at five targets from set positions. The main difference is that the targets are launched at high speeds, usually in front of the shooters, and can be very challenging to hit.


In trapshooting, there are three events. Doubles is where the shooter must shoot at two targets that are thrown out from the trap house simultaneously. In this, the person shooting stands at a 16-yard distance and therefore has to fire twice, once for each target.


Single trap shooting is arguably one of the easier disciplines, as shooters only need to hit one target while standing 16 yards from the trap house. The clays are thrown at varied angles, where each person in a squad of five shooters takes a turn shooting at five targets from a different stand. This helps to achieve a different view of the target in a flight.

Wobble Trap

In a wobble trap, the machine oscillates from side to side, as well as up and down, so the target’

Down the Line

DTL, or Down The Line, is a well-known variation of trapshooting that originated in Australia. The game has since spread to other countries such as South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, France, and the UK.

What sets DTL apart from other trap games is that there are five stands rather than just one, and they are placed 16 yards away from the trap house.

This allows the clays to be thrown to a distance of 45 to 50 meters. When playing DTL, shooters take turns shooting one clay at a time until a round of 25 birds is shot.


The most skilled trap shooters in the world often compete in handicap events. This competition is based on a shooter’s performance. The minimum distance shooters can stand from the trap house is 18 yards and the maximum distance is 27 yards. The farther back a shooter stands, the more prestigious the event becomes.

Olympic Trap

The Olympic trap is more like a variation of the American trap. The main difference is that instead of using one launcher, the clay targets are launched from a line of 15 machines at a varied but set angle in front of the players. This makes the game more challenging and exciting for those who are looking for a new twist on a classic game.


The High-Over-All championship is based on a point system. There are a total of 1000 targets over the course of six days. The person with the most points at the end of the six days is crowned the winner.


In this game, there are two players. They each stand at 27 yards away from the trap house. The first person calls for the target and fires the shot. If he misses the target, the second person then takes their turn to shoot. In other words, one person is always there to back up the other.


This is the method used to determine the winner in case of a draw in a shooting event.

Clay Pigeon Shooting Equipment and Accessories

Clay Pigeon Shooting Equipment and Accessories


The sport of trapshooting has a designated area for the shooter and the clay targets. This area is called the “field” or “trap field.”

While the size and layout of the field may vary, the basic premise is always the same: there’s a line from which the shooter stands, and there’re several targets set up at different distances and angles.

  • Bird: This is the round-clay disk launched as a target for clay shooting. It is also known as pigeon clay.
  • Trap: This is the machine that throws the target into the air.
  • Bank: In singles, the four filed traps, where the squads rotate, are known as a bank.
  • Call: This is the signal the shooter gives for the target to be released. It is also known as the pull.
  • Puller: The puller is the person expected to release the target from the trap house. This is done either by hand or with an electric switch.
  • Broken Target: A broken target is a useless clay that comes out of the trap house already broken. When this happens, the target is declared as a “no target” whether it was a hit or not.
  • No-Bird/No-Target: When the target comes out of the trap house broken, the referee gives a call. This call is known as “no-bird” or “no-target.”
  • Lost: “Lost” is the name given to a target that’s completely missed or merely dusted.
  • Pair: The two targets fired together in doubles shooting are known as a pair.
  • Dead: This term describes a target hit and broken by the shooter.
  • Dusted: A dusted target is a target hit with an open pellet but doesn’t break completely such that only a puff of dust is seen.
  • Squad: “Squad” refers to a group of five shooters who take turns shooting clays together at one trap.
  • Swing: When the shooter shoots, the gun movement is called a swing.

Positions and Stations

Positions and Stations
  • Stand: Stand refers to the position where the shooter stands and fires the shots from.
  • Station: This is the area or the place where the shooter will make the shots
  • High House Single: This refers to a target that moves from left to right at around 15 feet off the ground.
  • Low House Single: These are targets that move from right to left about three feet off the ground. They’re also known as low-house launches.
  • Low House/High House Pair: This is where targets are launched as doubles.
  • Range: Range simply refers to the place of shooting.
  • Forward Allowance/Lead: This is the amount of space where shooters shoot at flying targets to break them.
  • Back-yard: In handicap, back-yardage refers to the stands or positions within a distance of 24 and 27 yards behind the trophies.

Shooting Methods

Shooting methods relate to how shooters acquire the targets and then break them. There are 3 main shooting methods:

  • Maintained Lead: In this, the barrels appear in front of the target, sustained throughout the shot to minimize the movement involved in acquiring and hitting the target.
  • Pull Away: The barrels move onto the target and then pull in front to provide the necessary lead.
  • Swing Through: The barrels appear from behind the target, onto it, and then overtake it to give the required lead.

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Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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