Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Brief History Of Clay Target Shooting

Clay Pigeon Shooting or Clay Shooting is most simply described as the sport of shooting moving
Clay Targets or Clay Pigeons with a shotgun. I refrain from describing the Targets or Clays as
being shot into the air to simulate the flight of pigeons as the sport attempts (or at least
originally) attempted to simulate the flight of several types of birds and movement of animals
such as rabbits. The sport is known by several terms such as Clay Target shooting and trap
shooting but the original 'Clay Pigeon Shooting' is the one that helps us understand the history
of the sport best.

* A Sport For The Gentry.. 

The beginnings of the sport are rooted in Game Shooting that was popular with the aspiring middle
classes of England. It allowed them to practice their shooting techniques before the arriving at
the weekend shoot of a friendly astistocrat.. The gentlemen of the London clubs devised a means
by which their appetite for betting and shooting could be satisfied. Just as the game of Cricket
was developed on the back of gambling so was the sport of 'Clay Pigeon Shooting' but in the
beginning the targets were not Clay Pigeons.

* Live Pigeons Trapped Under A Hat.

Real Pigeons were used so participants could realistically practise their field game shooting
technique.. In the early nineteenth century when gentlemen wore top hats, the hats were often
used to trap the pigeons until they needed launching.. The hats containing the pigeons would be
place on the ground at various distances in preparation for the shooter to call: 'Pull'. A Rope
is pulled, pulling over the top hat that allows the pigeon to escape. As the sport developed the
pigeons would be held in specially designed traps and the trap mechanism would be opened, again
by means of pulling a tether with the command: 'Pull'. The first official records show that the
Old Hats Tavern just west of London. It is likely, however, that various differing participants
may have started their own clubs to participate in this sport. The Hurlingham  Polo and Shooting
club being a further example The Old Hats Tavern may have catered more for the gambling crowd..

* Shooting Glass Balls. 

By the time shooting live pigeons from live traps was made illegal in the U.K. in 1921, the
'artificial bird shooting' had already evolved in several ways as it had travelled the world. It
is not clear whether having a more consistent bird flight, shortage of pigeons or just early
animal rights lobby but?) the shooting of feather filled glass targets was started. When the
targets are hit they leave a spectacular cloud of feathers. This type of shooting is attributed
to have been invented in the U.S. by Charles Portlock. The limited way in which the glass balls
were launched did not make the sport as interesting or as varied as the real thing.. When, in
1877, Adam Bogardus patented the launching catapult, the glass balls could be thrown further. It
is at this point the sport became more interesting and attacted more participants.. In a classic
piece of early marketing Bogardus appeared with the show men of his day, such as 'Buffalo Bill',
in exhibition shoots and the spectacle gained a set of rules by which everyday men and women
could enjoy the sport.

* The Real Clay Pigeon Arrives. 

It was not until 1880, however, when more familiar clay pigeon was invented. George Ligowski can
be credited with this invention (His patents are on record). He had earlier patents for Glass
ball targets but saw the development of the clay disc as an improvement for the sport being
better in flight, where the range was further and the launching could be done to replicate the
flight of birds more realistically.He also invented a way of launching the clay pigeons and
demonstrated this with the same marketing prowess as Bogardus. He organised demonstration events
where famous 'sharp shooters' would compete.. The cost of manufacture, the absence of broken
glass and the variety of flight meant that eventually the clay pigeon replaced the glass ball and
the trapped live pigeon shooting disciplines.

The sport of Clay Pigeon Shooting has not however stood still and just has it evolved from a
number of geographical and social areas, it continues to encompass different disciplines and
disciples, from your Olympic Athletes to your occasional fun participant, it can be enjoyed by
anybody and everybody.
H.Winchester is an avid Clay Pigeon Shooting Enthusiast with 25 Years experience of Clay Pigeon

Posted by Stowaway Marine

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