History of Sporting Clays
From the late 1880's until
the outbreak of the First World War, pheasant and grouse shooting in
England enjoyed a popularity level that had never been seen, or rivalled
Unwittingly, the same time period also marked a time of change; the
first clay target, a flat disc, appeared between 1883 and 1887. The clay
pigeon was then introduced and a direct result came the birth and
development of SPORTING CLAYS.
The Victorian and Edwardian hunting parties were legendary - as were
the number of birds bagged. The ability to shoot well was a prerequisite
(along with social standing) to obtaining an invitation to many of the
great estates. Consequently, with clay pigeons it was possible for the
first time to tune up with practice and instruction.
It was in 1812 in a London suburb that the first live pigeon-shooting
club was born. It was called the "Old Hats Tavern". The old hats were
used as boxes in order to launch the pigeons. This was when the
expansion of this sport first started.
In 1850 one begins to see meetings of hunters who shot at glass balls
thrown by hand. In 1877, an American, Adam Bogardu invented the first
catapult in order to launch these glass balls at shooting shows, and the
term "Ball Trap" was adopted.
The best known spectacle of the time were undoubtedly those of the
very famous William Frederick Cody, better known under the name of
"Buffalo Bill". His spectacle "Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show" was a huge
The Shooting Schools in London were at once able to capitalise on the
demand and set about the installation of traps and towers that would
enable them to simulate flight of game birds. Inevitably, this, in turn
with its variety of targets, led to the introduction of a new discipline
in its own right. It was given the name of SPORTING, and the first
British Open Sporting Championship was held in London in 1927.
Sporting has of course developed hugely since those days and is now
by far the most popular clay target discipline in England, though it has
only been in the last 10 years that it has really caught on in a big
way. For many years it was in the shadow of Trap Shooting.
In France a real revolution was to undergo : a creative genius
invented the first hand throwing device, the "Hand Trap" in 1927. That
man was Emile Laporte. All targets are thrown from a machine called a
trap. The trap is a spring-loaded throwing arm, usually made of metal.
Targets can be thrown for distances of up to 135metres. The spinning
action of the target is imparted by the trap arm and its running rail
that helps to maintain a reasonably stable flight trajectory for at
least the first 50m.
Now 90 % of clay pigeon shooters choose Sporting. It is a discipline
that can offer so much to so many. It can be pure fun, it can be a test
of ability or a competitive challenge. An important thing to remember is
that you do not have to get a brilliant score to get a terrific amount
of satisfaction from it.