The Trap Shooting Game

American trap is the most common clay target game in the USA. It is found in all 50 states but is probably most common in the Midwest and upper Northeast. Trap is a relatively simple game to play, and generally inexpensive compared to sporting clays. There is just one machine per field, and a round of trap is 25 targets, shot on one field. The ’trap house’ holding this trap is 16 yards in front of the 5 evenly space firing positions called ‘pads’. Shooters each shoot 5 targets from each pad for a total of 25 birds.  How it works: The starting shooting shoots one time and then the next shooter goes until each has shot those 5 times then you rotate to the next station. There are several variations of the game of Trap but this is the most common.

The interesting thing about trap is that the machine throwing the birds is randomly oscillating over an approximate 44-degree arc, and throwing the birds at about 45 mph!

This game is best enjoyed socially when a group gets together and shoot a round, then takes a break before shooting the next round. That way you spread your enjoyment over a longer period without the tension and fatigue of banging too many shells in a short period of time, as a group of 5 shooters might finish their 25 targets each in just a few minutes.


Special thanks to Krieghoff for sponsoring this series of blog posts!

Shotgunnin’ Games!?!?

Skeet ~ Sporting Clays ~ Super Sporting ~ American Trap ~ FITASC ~ and the list goes on!


Yep ladies, there are many different ways to participate in the shotgun sports!  When folks find out what I do for a living they often say: “Oh yeah, I have shot skeet before” or “I would love a skeet shooting lesson”.  This is a very common response because we often here that term used when people talk about the clay shooting shotgun sports.  Why? Well, not so long ago skeet was the more dominate game played with shotguns and the clays themselves are often referred to as “skeets”.  That’s ok, if we have them talking about it to begin with then we have someone interested enough in knowing more and possibly wanting to pursue the sport!  Yeah! Happy us!


We are going to post a series of blogs for our GRITS members so you all understand the basic concept of each of the different shotgun disciplines.  You should give them all a try just to because it is fun!   


Ready…PULL ~ the word that turns loose all the fun


Special thanks to Krieghoff for sponsoring this series of blog posts!

A Gun That Fits

How many times have you worn a pair of shoes that looked great but after an hour you were sorry you ever bought them?  Or a pair of earrings that were way too heavy?  Or a pair of jeans that just didn’t feel right?  I can sum it up for you in two words…size matters!  We can say it doesn’t but it really does!  Such is the case in finding a great fitting shotgun straight off the shelf!  The length of pull is probably going to be too long, the pitch might need to be adjusted, and the drop at comb is likely to be too low. Of course, the weight of the gun is an important consideration though when just mounting and trying a gun in the store, they seem much heavier than when you are actually shooting them. Many times guns are manufactured for the right-handed shooter with a palm swell and a slight cast off.  Ah, but there is good news ladies!! There are many options and solutions out there.  When purchasing a shotgun, especially a first one, consider the weight of course, but also the adjustability of the gun.  Often I suggest a shotgun like a semi-auto Beretta Xcel because they are lighter weight, very adjustable in the cast and drop at comb & easy to have shortened.  Adjustable combs and butt plates are wonderful options as well, and if not readily available on the new gun of choice, very easy to have installed on a shotgun, new or one you already have.


Why entertain these options?  As you grow as a shooter and your style develops, your gun can grow and change with you. Gaining and losing weight affects gun fit.  Shooting style affects gun fit.  Having a custom stock is also a great option but in my opinion, should be considered after you have been shooting a while. Now, get yourself a good fitting gun and go have some fun!  Whoo- Hoo!! ~Elizabeth Lanier Fennell

Join GRITS today for more shooting tips in the members-only pages on our website!

Tip of the Month – June 2018

Stepping Into the Box

When I get to a station, the first thing I do is take in the background in front of me. I want to remember landmarks-things in the background to help remember key items like hold points and target lines. Next, I gather information about the targets. Where are they coming from and where are they going-sometimes you can see the traps, sometimes they are hidden. Also what type of target is it? Rabbits, standards, midi’s, battue’s, etc are all standard fare. Then, is the pair on report, or a true pair? If on report which target is first? If a ‘simo pair’ is it obvious which one will be engaged first?

I want as much data about this station as I can get BEFORE I view the birds. That way I can make the most of my valuable view birds. This allows the shooter to gather as much information as possible during the show birds. Now I need to establish the kill zone (for both birds), the visual details of the bird (both of them),  visual pick up area (for both birds), target lines and hold points. In THAT order.

This seems like a lot to do, but if you follow this same plan making procedure every time, and it will become second nature before you know it!

For more shooting tips,  join GRITS today to access the members-only pages on our website.

Aiming for Perfection?

aiming for perfectionAs women, we try to make everything perfect. Thus, once we finally have learned to focus on the target, we shoot trying not to miss it vs. shooting to hit it. In other words, we have a tendency to want to look at the gun to be sure it is lined up with the target. Or we go to the target, gently pull away and then check to see if we are far enough ahead. Oopsie. Though you have not consciously looked at the gun, you have taken your eyes from the target to see the gap/lead between the gun and the target. In that nanosecond you are checking the gap/lead, the gun slows/stops and the target is gone. In trying not to miss, you do.


That’s why you should incorporate your peripheral vision. If your head is on the stock and you are looking at the target, the gun is there with you. Keeping your eye on the front of target, let your leading hand, the hand on the for-end, point at the target and when you have focused on a detail on the target, gently pull away, letting your subconscious pull the trigger. You will know the gun is ahead of the target because you are aware of where it is in your peripheral vision. Think…on it, ahead, bang! Keep your eyes on the target, gently move ahead, trust it and trigger it! Remember, shooting is a pointing game, not an aiming game. Relax, focus, trust it and shoot for fun, not perfection. You will love what you get in return.

Central Virginia G.R.I.T.S. November Shoot – November 14, 2016


Just wanted to remind everyone that the Central Virginia G.R.I.T.S. November shoot is Monday, November 14, 2016.  Please RSVP to Sue at  ASAP so she can give you directions to Barb’s house AND get a better estimate of the amount of oysters we’re going to need. (Surprise! We’re going to have a professional shucker on-site so we can slurp while we’re not shooting!)”



Mounted vs. Dismounted

When is it a good idea to have the shotgun pre-mounted?  There are times this is a fabulous way to shoot.

For new shooters, a pre-mounted gun is almost a no brainer.  Having the gun pre-mounted allows the shooter to learn proper stance, how to get the gun in the correct position in the shoulder and on the face, and to learn to focus on the target.  As a shooting instructor, I almost always start new shooters with a pre-mounted gun, with the intention of getting them to a lower gun as soon as possible for better target acquisition and peripheral vision.  It also takes away the tendency to try and “aim” the shotgun, vs. pointing it.

A pre-mounted gun is also often used when a target needs to be taken sooner vs later, as sometimes presented in true pairs and/or when the speed and trajectory of a target do not allow much time for a solid gun mount.  A pre-mounted gun is great for really any fast moving bird.  For example, for any fast outgoing bird, a pre-mounted shotgun is a great idea.  The targets are getting away quickly and by taking the mount out of the equation, you will get on the target faster, removing the random gun movement that leaves a lot of room for error.  Likewise, targets that are fast crossers, quartering away or screaming rabbits are also great candidates for a pre-mounted gun.

The game of trap is almost always shot with a pre-mounted gun. Generally skeet shooters also use a pre-mounted gun.


Keyword: RELAX

Seriously, just RELAX when shooting.

Take a deep breath and exhale!  This is soooo important both as a beginner at a first lesson and equally so for the well honed shooter and everyone in between!  Do we always remember to do this? Of course not! Those of us who have been shooting quite a while know this but sometimes it is still hard to do. To just relax, exhale and feel the tension leave our hands and shoulders.

For new shooters, it is even harder to do. I understand this feeling completely. There are so many things to think about and learn.  Safety, break points, foot position, hold points, head on the gun, look at the target, etc.  Good instructors will take you through that process with ease when you put less pressure on yourself to perform.  

Remember that each step in the learning curve, especially for beginners, is a progression toward learning to shoot better.  Try to RELAX!  By doing so, and with good instruction, you will learn faster, improve quickly and overall, enjoy the whole shooting experience more.  Give yourself time to learn just as more experienced shooters need to allow themselves time to get even better.  

Remember what? That’s right, RELAX…first and foremost, this is for fun!

Next week:  Gun Mounts

Lots of fun shooting this month!

Hey Gang,


Get those guns out and join one of the several GRITS shoots going on in the next few months.  There are clay shooting gatherings, several wing shooting opportunities and a hunting and fishing combo!  October and November looks like fun!  Check out the EVENTS calendar and plan to join us!  Cheers!

Sunday shooting!

Hey there folks,

Hope you are all enjoying a great summer!  As for us here at the GRITS home base, we are sure looking forward to some cooler days!  Wanted to send you a quick reminder to check our calendar often for upcoming fun with some of the GRITS chapters!  I know that this Sunday the Central VA GRITS are shooting near Mt Crawford, VA at the Flying Rabbit.  We would love anyone close to join in the fun starting at 10am.

The Carolina GRITS are helping support a charity shoot at Deep River Sporting Clays in Sanford, NC on August 19th and want more ladies for teams.  Contact the for more info.

The Hudson Valley NY GRITS are shooting at St. Hubert’s Lodge in Marlboro, NY on August 20th starting at 9:30.  Contact for more info.

Our Piedmont GRITS Chapter host a weekly Pay Your Own Clay night as well.  For more info on that, contact

Now, get out there this weekend and break some clays!