Skeet shooting is done in rounds. A skeet field is a semicircle, with the houses at each 'corner' of the semicircle. There are seven stations (usually just marked squares on the ground) placed around the arc, spaced evenly with two under the houses themselves and the rest spread between. The eighth station is placed at the midpoint of the semicircle's straight edge; just beyond it (out perpendicular to the edge) is a stake.

I'd try to diag this in ASCII but it'd be hopeless. Update: Zeolite was kind enough to do it for me! Here goes:

 _______             + = stake            _______
 |_____/             o = clay             \_____|
 |  l |------o                             | l  |
 |  l |                                    | l  |
 |  l |                             o------| l  |
 |__l_|_________________+__________________|_l__|
 '''(1)''''''''''''''''(8)'''''''''''''''''(7)'''
  '''''                '''                 '''''
   '''''               '''                '''''
    '''''              '''               '''''
     '''(2)            '''             (6)'''
      '''''           '''''            '''''
       ''''(3)       '''''''        (5)''''
         ''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''
           ''''''''''''(4)'''''''''''''
             ''''''''''''''''''''''''
                ''''''''''''''''''

Anyhow, the house on the left is the high house; the house on the right the low house (facing the stake from the stations). Starting at the leftmost station, each shooter takes four shots; one at a high clay, one at a low clay, and then two at two crossing clays fired simultaneously. The clays (pigeons) will always pass over the stake just outside the eighth station, and are launched at the shooter's cry of Pull!

Each shooter takes a round at this station, passing off the gun if necessary. Then all shooters move to the next station (to the right) and repeat the process. Here the shots required are slightly different due to the different angles to the houses.

Stations 3, 4 and 5 (the center station on the semicircle and those to either side of it) are two-clay stations; that is, only the high clay and low clay shots are taken. There are no crossing clay shots taken. Those resume at station 6.

Generally, beginners to the sport tend to miss behind the pigeon. Unlike pistols or rifles, the muzzle velocity of a shotgun target load is fairly low; ergo, the shooter must lead the target by a varying amount at each station. It is very important to keep the gun swinging; rather than following the pigeon, try to start behind it and swing past it, firing when the requisite lead has been achieved. After firing, make sure to continue the swing; this prevents you from 'jerking' the trigger or spoiling your aim due to stopping your motion and either delaying the shot or pulling the gun off target with the effort.

Skeet shooting is a most fun sport that requires skill and patience, as well as ear protectors and (if it's chilly) a good coat. ;-) Always practice safety first using the following rules:

  • Everyone must stand behind the shooter, using a line perpendicular to their aim, at all times.
  • No guns should ever be loaded except when about to fire, and the shooter should never load the gun outside the marked station.
  • Once on station, the shooter's gun should never swing more than 45 degrees off front until it has been emptied and opened.
  • If a round comes up dud (fails to fire), the shooter should remain on the station in firing position for several seconds in case there is a slow burn; when deemed safe, the shooter should eject the misfired shell and remove it from the range.
  • As with any firearm sport, weapons should never be pointed at a person, no matter what condition they are in. At all times, you should assume that they are dangerous and loaded, unless you have them disassembled.

Olympic Skeet, also known as "international style" skeet, was first introduced into the Olympic Games program during the 1968 Summer Olympics held in Mexico City. This style of shooting (as opposed to present day American style skeet shooting, mentioned above) is required to follow the rules set by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), a worldwide shooting organization that is based in Germany. These rules are in accordance with the International Olympic Committee. The American team is fielded from the USA Shooting Team, the national organizing body of the United States shooting athletes. This is done by holding open matches (the public and military are both invited to compete) where shooters compete to get a spot on the team.

Some changes had to be made in order to make skeet (which was an American invention) transform into an Olympic Game, one that would be harder and rigorous than its predecessor. The changes and their contrasts with American skeet are as follows:

  • The low-gun position. In American skeet, one is allowed to have the gun pre-mounted and ready for target sighting. The low-gun position requires the shooter to keep the butt stock of his/her gun below a certain line that is sewn onto the shooters vest or shirt. The gun cannot be mounted until the target is visible.
  • 12 gauge 24 gr. international shotshell loads. In American skeet, one is allowed to use up to 1 1/8 oz. loads as compared to the relatively small 24 gr. international load (a bit smaller than 7/8 oz.) Less shot means less little friends out there trying to help you. There are no speed restrictions in either discipline.
  • Variable-timing (anywhere from instantaneous to 3 seconds from the call of the bird) target release. In American skeet, the target is to be released up to 1 second after the call for the target. However, it is typically instantaneous. Olympic style skeet can test the nerves of even the most seasoned shooters by waiting until the bird is in view.
  • Faster targets. In American skeet, the targets travel around 40 mph. In Olympic skeet, the targets travel around 60 mph.
  • Different order of targets. In American skeet, targets are released so that there are no doubles shots on stations #3,#4,#5 and that single shots from both houses are taken at every station. Doubles from #3,#4,#5 are very hard in either discipline. See below. Also, the targets are about 5 mm. larger than a standard American target and as a result of the increased size and weight, are harder to break.

Olympic skeet is divided into two events in order to accommodate the men and the women. Both procedurally shoot the same game, the difference lies in the fact that women shoot 75 targets in one day while the men shoot 125 targets over a two day period (75 one day, 50 the next).

In Olympic skeet the targets are released in a combination of singles and doubles up to a total of 25 targets per round shot across 8 different shooting stations. Targets are released from two different locations — the high house and the low house. Both targets are set to go the same distance and speed; the only difference between the two is the angle and distance above the ground from which they are released. The field layout is that of a semicircle with station #1 directly under the high house, station #7 directly next to the low house window and station #8 directly between stations #1 and #7. Stations #2, #3, #4, #5, and #6 all follow the semicircle between stations #1 and #7. Station #4 is directly in line with station #8 (see above).

Shooters shoot single targets and doubles, which is a target simultaneously thrown from both the high house and low house. The Shooting order is as follows:

  • Station #1: 1 High House Target, 1 Double
  • Station #2: 1 High House Target, 1 Double
  • Station #3: 1 High House Target, 1 Double
  • Station #4: 1 High House Target, 1 Low House Target, 1 Double: High House Target 1st., 1 Double: Low House Target 1st.
  • Station #5: 1 Low House Target, 1 Double
  • Station #6: 1 Low House Target, 1 Double
  • Station #7: 1 Double
  • Station #8 High: 1 High House Target
  • Station #8 Low: 1 Low House Target

The object of the game is to break as many targets as possible. With quick hand eye coordination, the proper shotgun, the right coach and lots and lots of money, it is possible that you could win a coveted Gold Medal.


For further reading, please see http://www.usashooting.com

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