The sport of American trap shooting has something to offer whether you are 9 or 90 or confined to a wheel chair.
Not all that many sports can lay claim to a blanket statement like that.
The Pondera Shooting Sports Complex, one mile west of Conrad, just past the ball fields, is well on its way to completion.
When finished, the complex will be home to several different types of shooting sports as well educational programs, like Hunter Education.
Volunteers are still working to complete the indoor shooting range, however, the trap range has been up-graded with an automatic thrower, handicapped accessible cement shooting lanes and a new cement tap thrower house.
As soon as the temperatures become a little less brutal, the pop-pop sounds of shotguns will be heard across the grain fields as trap shooting begins at the complex every Wednesday at 6p.m.
Anyone, with an emphasis on anyone, who is interested in shooting trap is welcome to join the fun, Scott Johnson tells the Independent-Observer.
Whether you are a seasoned pro or have never picked up a shotgun ,you are welcome to shoot with the trap group. “There are many shooters who will be happy to help you learn the discipline,” he says.
He explained that they normally shoot a handful of squads at 16 yards, a few at handicap and now at the end of the evening we will be able to shoot a round or two of doubles.
This has been made possible by a grant from the National Rifle Association and others. The trap shooters were able to purchase a new top-of-the-line Pat Trap thrower, build new trap houses and install one new set of sidewalks.
In addition, the Tri-County league has monthly shoots in Conrad, Choteau, Shelby and now Havre. The public is welcome to come out and watch the shooters.
Johnson says that shooters take aim on 50 birds (clay) at 16 yards and 50 birds at handicap. Kids get the first 25 birds for free and after that is $4 for 25 birds. For more information, contact John Shevlin at 278-7043, Johnson 278-9176 or Jerome Glimm, 278-3574.
Youth who have turned nine by Oct.1, 2008 have the opportunity to sign up for the 4-H Shotgun project at the Pondera County Extension office by May 1.
These youth will shoot in June with a certified 4-H instructor and have the opportunity to compete in the Marias Fair Shotgun Tournament in Shelby on July 12.
All youth shooting in this discipline will have to demonstrate the physical and mental maturity to handle a shotgun to their instructor, in order to be accepted into the program.
They will also need to join 4-H in order to participate in this project. This is separate from the youth program described above for 12-18 year olds, which is not a 4-H program.
What is trap shooting?
American trap is broken down into three categories: 16 yard singles, 16 yard doubles and, handicap which is shot between 19-27 yards.
In singles, each shooter takes one shot at each of five targets in each of the five positions in sequence, while sanding 16 yards from the trap house.
The trap rotates back and forth so it is impossible to know which way the target to going to come out.
Handicap is the same as singles, but shot from further away. Adult male shooters start at the 20 yard line and women and sub-juniors at 19 yards, and they work their way back, “earning yardage” for shooting a score of 96 or higher, winning a championship or other major event or shooting the highest score when 15 or more competitors shoot that event.
No two shooters on the same squad should have a difference of more than three yards between them.
Doubles is shot from 16 yards and the trap is fixed to fire straight away with the left and right targets appearing to be straight away when standing between positions four and five and one and two respectively.
Two targets are thrown at the same time, with one shot per target allowed.
There is no second shot on any target in American trap singles or handicap.
When shooting American trap for practice or fun, a squad of five will shoot 25 targets each for a total of 125.
Registered ATA shoots require shooters to shoot 50, 100, or 200 targets per event. Most of these shoots are for personal average or handicap yardage.
American tap is shot with lead target ammo, with a shot size between 7-1/2 and 0.
Ammunition is allowed a maximum of 1-1/8 ounce of shot and maximum velocities vary with shot mass; 1,290 feet per second for 1-1/8 ounce, 1,325 feet per second for one ounce, and 1,350 feet per second for 7/8 ounce.
Maximum loads are generally only needed for long handicap or the second doubles shot, noted Johnson.
If you have questions or need further information about trap shooting, Contact Shevlin, Johnson or Glimm. They would be more than happy to discuss shooting sports and trap with you.