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The origins of Clay Pigeon Shooting

Clay pigeon shooting, also known as clay target shooting or simply trap shooting, has a rich history that dates back to the early 19th century. Here is a concise overview of the history of clay pigeon shooting:

Origins in Live Pigeon Shooting: Clay pigeon shooting originated as a substitute for live pigeon shooting, a popular sport in the 18th and 19th centuries. Live pigeons were released from traps, and participants would shoot at them for sport. However, concerns about animal welfare and the decline in the availability of live pigeons led to the development of clay pigeon shooting. In Scotland, clay pigeon shooting is known locally as “clay doo shooting”.

The invention of Clay Targets: The advent of clay targets revolutionised the sport. In 1880, George Ligowsky, a keen American shooter, introduced the first clay targets made of clay and pitch. These targets offered a more consistent and environmentally friendly alternative to live pigeons. Clay targets were shaped like flying birds and became the primary target used in clay shooting.

Growth in Popularity: Clay pigeon shooting gained popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It became a competitive sport and was included in prestigious shooting competitions. Organisations such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the US and the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) were established to govern and promote the sport. Various shooting disciplines, such as skeet shooting and sporting clays, emerged to provide diverse shooting challenges. At House of Mulben, we welcome all ages above 16 to us. We use 20-bore guns, as they are lightweight and don’t kick as much as the more commonly used 12-bore guns. These 20-bores still pack enough punch to break at clay at 45 yards, though. You get the potential to take on clays a long way off but don’t have a sore shoulder afterwards. We generally use 28g cartridges too.

Technological Advances: Over time, technological advancements transformed clay pigeon shooting. Automatic traps were introduced to launch the targets, enabling more consistent and controlled flight paths. The introduction of plastic targets in the mid-20th century improved target durability and flight characteristics. Electronic scoring systems and voice-activated traps further enhanced the shooting experience and made competitions more efficient.

Modern-Day Clay Pigeon Shooting: Clay pigeon shooting continues to thrive as a popular sport and recreational activity worldwide. It is enjoyed by both amateurs and professional shooters. The sport has gained significant media coverage through televised events and has become more inclusive with the participation of women and youth. Today, clay pigeon shooting is practised in dedicated shooting ranges and is a recognised Olympic discipline, highlighting its global significance and continued growth.

In summary, clay pigeon shooting evolved from live pigeon shooting, embracing clay targets as a humane and consistent alternative. It grew in popularity, spurred by technological advancements, and became a competitive sport with various disciplines. Today, clay pigeon shooting remains a thriving and inclusive activity enjoyed by people of all ages and is recognised as an Olympic sport.

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