The Art of Trap Shooting: From Novice to Sharpshooter

Trap shooting is a captivating sport that combines precision, focus, and quick reflexes. Whether you’re a novice looking to try your hand at a new hobby or an experienced shooter aiming to enhance your skills, understanding the art of trap shooting is crucial for success on the clay field.

Embracing the Basics

Trap shooting involves shooting at clay targets, commonly known as clay pigeons, released from a trap house situated in front of the shooter. The targets follow various trajectories, simulating the flight patterns of birds, and offering a dynamic and challenging experience.

For beginners, it’s essential to grasp the fundamentals. Start by understanding the layout of the trap field, recognizing shooting stations, and familiarizing yourself with the trap machine. A typical trap field has five shooting stations arranged in a half-moon shape, with shooters taking turns at each station. The trap machine throws targets away from the shooter at varying angles, elevations, and speeds.

Mastering the Stance and Mount

Proper technique begins with adopting the right shooting stance. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, body weight slightly forward, and knees slightly bent. Your upper body should lean into the shot, ensuring stability and balance.

The gun mount is a critical element in trap shooting. Consistency is key, and the gun should come to your shoulder in the same manner every time. Practice the smooth, deliberate movement of bringing the gun to your cheek and shoulder, maintaining a fluid motion without unnecessary adjustments.

Perfecting the Swing and Lead

The “swing” in trap shooting refers to the controlled movement of your gun as you track the target. Smooth, calculated swings allow you to follow the trajectory of the clay pigeon accurately. Novices often struggle with over-swinging or stopping abruptly, leading to missed targets.

Understanding lead is another vital aspect. Lead refers to the distance you aim ahead of a moving target to account for its continued motion. For trap shooting, maintaining a consistent lead is crucial, and this skill is honed through practice and experience. Start with a modest lead and adjust based on your observations of target breaks.

Mental Preparedness

Trap shooting is not only physically demanding but also mentally challenging. Focus and concentration are paramount. Train your mind to block out distractions and concentrate solely on the target. Visualize successful shots and develop a routine to help center your thoughts before each shot.

Continuous Practice

As with any skill, improvement in trap shooting comes with consistent practice. Regular visits to the shooting range, coupled with a commitment to refining your technique, will yield positive results. Work on identifying areas for improvement, such as refining your stance, perfecting your gun mount, or enhancing your target-tracking skills.

Joining the Trap Shooting Community

Trap shooting is a highly social sport. Consider joining local shooting clubs or leagues to connect with other enthusiasts. Engaging with experienced shooters can provide valuable insights, tips, and camaraderie. Participating in competitions, whether casual or formal, adds an exciting dimension to your trap shooting journey. And your first step starts at Mid-Valley Clays & Shooting School! Sign up for some instruction today!

Which Target Shooting Is Right for You?

Target Shooting

What’s the best way to learn to shoot and sharpen your skills? Clay shooting, of course! With a low-pressure environment, proper instruction, patience, and precision, you can become a crack shot with the right effort. But how do you decide where to start target shooting? Here at Mid-Valley Clays & Shooting School, we offer that comfortable environment you need and some of the best instructors in the Portland and Willamette Valley areas.
Additionally, we offer four types of target shooting: trap shooting, skeet shooting, sporting clays, and five-stand shooting. Each sport is designed to sharpen your skills, and each is enjoyable in its own way. First, let’s go over how they differ from one another.

Trap shooting was the first method of clay shooting to be invented. In the 18th century, they would use live birds as targets but eventually switched to glass and clay targets. Little has changed in the way of trap shooting since its invention. Why mess with perfection? We offer singles and doubles here at Mid Valley Clays & Shooting School. Trap shooting is excellent for beginners hoping to get a taste of target shooting. Even if you’ve never held a gun, you can still succeed with some trap shooting training.

Invented in the early 20th century, skeet shooting is more about building your skill with crossing targets. The variety of angles is especially what sets skeet apart from trap shooting. Skeet shooting will help take you to the next level if you’re an intermediate shooter. If you want to get to that next level, contact one of our instructors. They can sharpen your hand-eye coordination in a measured way, step by step.

Sporting Clays:
Sporting clays is one of the most popular shooting games in the US, typically made up of 10-15 stations on a course. Sporting clays were meant to simulate game flushing in the wild. You will rely on the skills you have built on the skeet and trap ranges. This is the perfect environment for hunters to sharpen their eyes before or during bird season.

If you like each of the above practices but can’t choose one, five-stand might be for you. A spin-off of sporting clays, five-stand presents shooters with five targets at each of the five stations. It offers excitement, difficulty, and a variety different from any other shooting discipline. It is an excellent method for hunters to get back into the swing of things before their season begins. You’ll get the variety you need to refocus your skills before the real thing, from high fliers to ground grazers. Five-stand can be done by beginners but is especially helpful for advanced shooters and seasoned hunters.

Here at Mid Valley Clays & Shooting School, there’s something for everyone, no matter what type of shotgun shooting you’re interested in. Visit our pro shop for professional help choosing the right gear, then work with an instructor to succeed on the range. Whether skeet, trap, sporting clays, or 5-stand, Mid Valley Clays & Shooting School, Nestled in the Willamette Valley just south of Portland, Oregon, is the place to do it. Consider us for your next “claycation.”

Shotgun Instruction for 2023

For Mid-Valley Clays and Shooting School, our shotgun instruction program is critical to the success of our business. We take pride in giving shooters of all levels a leg up on their competition or help them establish some clear fundamentals.

To that end, we have certified one new instructor for 2022 – please welcome Doug Daugherty to the instructor crew. Doug is USAYESS-certified and will be working primarily with new and youth shooters.

Instructors of all levels can be booked using our digital booking tool –>>



Some pricing changes for shotgun instruction take effect immediately and apply to the new year:

• Dave Fiedler – $150/hr
• Vandy Fiedler, Craig Miya – $100/hr
• All other instructors – $75/hr

Please review our stable of instructors and see if one of them might help you up your game –>>