How To Conduct A Trapshooting Event

A resource for USA Clay Target League’s participating athletes, coaches, and shooting range staff to ensure a safe and enjoyable trapshooting experience for all.


A practice or competition event will consist of shooting two 25 target rounds for a total of 50 targets from the 16-yard station. Up to five athletes (squad) will occupy the stations on a trap field. The student athlete that is assigned to station one is designated the “squad leader”.

Trap Field

The trap field is the area of a shooting range where trap shooting occurs. Each field contains shooting stations (typically concrete walkways with yardage markers) and a trap house.

The trap house is the structure in front of the stations from which the clay targets are launched. Only facility personnel shall enter and maintain the trap house. A cone or flag will be displayed when the trap house requires maintenance and athletes are required to exit their shooting station and make firearms safe until the trap house maintenance is completed and the cone or flag is removed.

Ammunition Recommendation

Ammunition specifications must meet the use requirements of the shooting range. Typical ammunition used for trap shooting:
12-Gauge: Shot Size 1 oz. or 1-1/8 oz. #7.5 or #8
20-Gauge: Shot Size 7/8 oz. #8

Targets At Each Station

Five shots are taken at each of the five stations. After the first five shots are completed by the entire squad, each athlete will move to a new station by:

  • Verifying the shotgun is unloaded.
  • With the action open and the shotgun pointed in a safe direction, rotate in a clockwise manner to the next station.
  • Station one will move to station two, two to three, three to four, four to five, and five to one.
  • Station five will rotate to their right moving away from the station four athlete who is moving to station five and continue to walk behind the other athletes to station one.
  • Await the “START” command from the scorekeeper.
  • The squad leader is the first to shoot in each round.
  • Repeat process until all athletes have each shot 25 targets.
  • No athlete will move to the next station until the last target in a round is completed.

Watch the below instructional video for a procedural overview.


Watch the below instructional video for a scoring overview.

The official score is the record kept by the scorekeeper on a scoresheet furnished to him/her by the team, shooting range, or event host. One scoresheet is used for each squad.

  • The scorekeeper shall clearly record an accurate record of each score of each student athlete.
  • A scored target is promptly recorded in the square of the corresponding round on the scoresheet. 
  • If a target is scored “HIT/DEAD”, the scorekeeper will mark the square with a diagonal slash (/) or crossed out (X).
  • If the target is scored “MISSED/LOST”, the scorekeeper will mark the square with a circle (O) and verbally announce “LOST” to the entire squad.
  • Any target scored with both a “/ or X” and “O” shall be “LOST”, unless the word “DEAD” is clearly printed in the square.
  • The scorekeeper will announce station scores to the squad during each station change.
  • At the end of each round, the scorekeeper announces the scores for that round in firing order.
  • Every student athlete in a squad should review and initial their scores on the scoresheet after the round is completed to verify the addition of scores are correct.
  • Only mathematical errors can be corrected off of the field.
Sample Completed Trapshooting Scoresheet

“Lost” Target

A missed target must be declared “LOST” when:

  • It is not hit during its flight.
  • It is only “dusted” and no visible piece is broken from it.
  • An athlete, for no permitted reason, does not shoot at a regulation target for which the athlete has called.
  • The athlete is allowed two “misfires” per round if they were not able to fire his/her firearm because he/she has not released the safety or has forgotten to load it.

Disputed Call

In the event of a lost target dispute:

  • The athlete immediately raises an arm to notify the scorekeeper.
  • All athletes must unload their shotguns and make them safe.
  • The scorekeeper defers to the entire squad for majority ruling decision.
  • If the consensus among the squad is that the target was hit,then the scorekeeper will make the scoring adjustment on the scoresheet for a mismarked target.
  • If a majority ruling cannot be made by the squad, the lost target score will stay as-is.
  • Unless there is a disputed call, no score can be changed after the next athlete in line has completed his/her shot.

“Refused” Target

An athlete may refuse shooting at a released target if:

  • A target is not released immediately after the athlete’s call.
  • The athlete is visibly disturbed by some external cause.
  • The scorekeeper agrees that the target was flying along an irregular path other than that specified in angle, elevation or distance.
  • The athlete refusing a target must indicate this by opening the action on their shotgun and raising an arm. 

“No Bird” Target

A scorekeeper may declare a “no bird” when:

  • A broken or irregular target emerges.
  • Multiple targets are thrown at once from a single thrower.
  • An athlete shoots out of turn.
  • Another athlete fires at the same target.
  • The scorekeeper notices the athlete was visibly disturbed by some external cause.
  • The scorekeeper notices athlete’s foot position is outside his/her area.
  • The scorekeeper detects a violation of the athlete’s allowed time limit.
  • The shot is discharged involuntarily before the athlete has called for the target.
  • A target is thrown before the athlete’s call.
  • A target is not released immediately after the athlete’s call.
  • A target’s trajectory is irregular. 
  • There is an allowable malfunction of shotgun or shell.

Any target thrown that comes out of the house that is broken or chipped will be re-thrown for score regardless if the score recorder calls “no bird”. This includes if the athlete fires and hits the broken target. Only clear and whole targets are considered legal for competition.


When the command or the signal “stop” or “cease fire” is given, shooting must stop immediately.

  • All athletes must unload their shotguns and make them safe.
  • The round may resume once the cease fire issue has been resolved and the “Start” command given by the scorekeeper and/or RSO (Range Safety Officer).

Shotgun Malfunction

Failure to fire due to a shotgun malfunction requires that the athlete calls for a “cease fire” or “stop” and properly makes the shotgun safe. The RSO must examine the situation and determine if the shotgun can safely function for the remainder of the round. If the RSO deems the shotgun unusable for that round, the athlete must finish the round with another shotgun not already in use. If the athlete does not have access to an alternative shotgun then the athlete must take a zero score for each remaining target that round.

  • Athletes are not allowed to suspend a round and finish it after their shotgun has been repaired.
  • Athletes are not allowed to hold up the round for more than three minutes during a failure to fire situation.
  • Once the RSO has deemed the shotgun unusable for that round the shotgun cannot be brought back onto the field for any reason until the start of a new round.

“Out” Or “End Of Round”

Upon the completion of a round, the scorekeeper will declare “OUT” or “End Of Round”. Athletes will make their shotguns safe and carry the shotgun in the approved manner to exit the station. Athletes should then review and verify their scores with the scorekeeper.

All athletes are responsible for collecting empty hulls used during their round and disposing them in the assigned receptacle. 

Scorekeepers must submit the scoresheet to the event host or place the scoresheet in the bin behind the scoring chair.

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