American Skeet Rules

by Richard Rohlin, Demand Media

    American skeet is a popular wing-shooting sport that involves shooting at clay discs, also known as clay pigeons, using a shotgun. The game originated as a way to practice wing-shooting skills for hunting but quickly grew into a competitive sport of its own. American skeet differs only slightly from Olympic skeet, the variation played at the Olympic games.

    Premise

    Skeet shooting is performed on a field resembling a half-circle, with eight positions called stations. Seven of these stations are located at regular intervals along the half-circle, with the final station being located in the center of the half-circle's straightedge. Each shooter gets 25 shells per game. Shooters are organized into groups called squads, which are typically limited to five persons or less. The squad starts on the first station, located at the 9-o'clock position. Once each member of the squad has had his turn, the squad moves into the next station in the sequence.

    The Stations

    At each station, the shooter will encounter clay targets thrown at various angles by means of a trap-throwing machine. The shooter must shoot these clay targets using a shotgun before the target hits the ground. The angle, speed and order in which the targets must be engaged differ depending on the station. This variation creates the challenge of skeet, as the shooter must quickly judge how much he should "lead the target" -- a wing-shooting technique that involves aiming ahead of a moving target to account for the speed and angle at which the target is moving. The shooter is only allowed one shot per clay pigeon -- there are no repeat shots allowed for missed targets.

    Equipment

    There are no restrictions on the type of shotgun that may be used in American skeet, provided that the shotgun is capable of chambering at least two shells. Any gauge of shotgun may be used, however the shot size may be no larger than #7-1/2, with #9 shot recommended. The shooter is required to have a box of 25 shells as well as eye and ear protection. A shell holder to retain unfired shells as the shooter moves throughout the course of fire is a recommended piece of equipment, but is not required.

    Safety

    Guns are required to be kept unloaded until the shooter is in position at the given shooting station. When loaded, guns must always be kept pointed in a safe direction where they will not injure other participants. Unsafe handling of a gun, such as throwing it down in frustration, will result in immediate disqualification.

    Shooting Skeet

    Many local gun clubs have their own skeet fields. These fields are usually available for public use. The shooter pays a fee to shoot the game of skeet, and is assigned to a squad. The squad is then taken to the appropriate skeet field, where the throwers are manned by the gun club's staff. National Skeet Shooting Association registered matches are also available to NSSA members. In both practice and registered matches, shooters compete as individuals.

    About the Author

    As a business analyst, columnist and blogger, Richard Rohlin has had a variety of experience in different kinds of writing since 2007. Rohlin is published regularly in the "Fort Worth Examiner," where he writes informative articles on local hunting and shooting sports. Rohlin holds a B.A. in history and English from Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey.

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