The Sport of Clay Target Shooting
The sport of clay target shooting is one of the very few sports in which Juniors, Ladies, Physically Handicapped, Veterans, and Men in the open grade can compete on a completely even basis. The sport involves good eye-hand coordination, skill, concentration, good equipment, and determination. For these reasons, the sport has become very popular with secondary school competitors.
Clay target shooting involves the shooting of targets thrown by a “trap” machine through the air. Shotguns are used to attempt to break the target for the best possible score to win an event at any level, be it at club, district, provincial, island, national, or even international competitions. The goal and objective of every competitor is to win at their level of ability in competition.
To cater for a variety of abilities the sport has a grading system that matches competitors against others with similar experience and abilities. The grading is set from scores achieved so as competitors improve, their grade increases and they compete against others of similar ability. This enables all competitors to compete against each other, regardless of whether they are juniors, ladies, veterans, or in the open grade in a fair and equitable manner. The events often also include separate competitions to establish a junior, lady, or veteran winner as well as grade and overall (HOA) champions.
In addition to providing competition at all levels of ability, clay target shooting also provides a range of different ways in which the targets are thrown for different types of shooting. The main disciplines of clay target shooting include;
Down the Line (DTL) is a form of competition where the shooter stands in lanes 15m behind the trap house with targets thrown travel away from them. To add variety to the competition the events include different scoring systems (i.e. a points basis for a break on the first or second shot or single shot only). There are also events with different target sizes, two targets thrown at one time and shooting from a range of distances behind the “trap”.
Targets are thrown from two trap houses with 1 high and 1 low the shooters moving through various points around a semi-circle. The angles, therefore, provide a variation in targets as well as the combinations of targets, including two at once.
Here targets are thrown to simulate field-shooting conditions with numerous traps set up in different terrain to throw a variety of targets, simulating game in the wild.
The targets thrown here are at International competition levels as competed for in the Olympic and Commonwealth Games. ISSF shooting in New Zealand is administered through New Zealand Shooting Federation.
To represent New Zealand at the Games (ie Olympic and Commonwealth) is the goal of some shooters, regretfully these numbers are limited primarily due to the lack of funding available. A transition to the ISSF events is required and although administered by the NZCTA and its member clubs, the individual shooters come under NZ Shooting Federation for major international competitions.
The sport of clay target shooting has seen very considerable growth in membership from the Secondary School age groups, some 1200 are registered nationally. For these individuals, there are regular inter-collegiate competitions and at the 2011 Secondary School Nationals held at the WCTC, some 320 students competed over three days.
WCTC facilities are utilised by several of the local Colleges and these competitors have enjoyed success at the highest level of junior shooting (Secondary School Nationals)
These different forms of clay target shooting provide variety to suit a range of preferences for members of the WCTC. The grading system allows competitors to compete against each other on an equitable basis that accounts for experience, skill, and abilities. As the sport is not reliant on size or strength, competitors of all ages and genders can compete on an equal basis.
Registered NZCTA shooters who are members of the various gun clubs can choose to partake in the sport at the level they consider appropriate for them. There are regular monthly competitions at the club and those who choose to compete at this level can enjoy the more serious competition at these club events.
For those shooters seeking a higher level of competition and achievement, there are championship events. Championships are held for local Districts, for each of the 11 Provincial regions as well as for both the North and South Islands. These events are run over 2-3 days for each championship. The major championships on the annual calendar are the NZ Nationals which are run over a week and are held for both DTL and Skeet. At the Nationals the NZ teams for international events are selected from results achieved.
Sporting shooters can compete at club competitions or major sporting championship events. From these championship events, the teams to represent New Zealand are selected.