Fredericton Trap & Skeet Club

Eastern Canada's Premier Sporting Clays Destination

 
 
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THE FREDERICTON TRAP & SKEET CLUB INC

2014 Perspective

by

Bev Bacon

Since its comparatively modest beginnings some 23 years ago, the Fredericton Trap & Skeet Club has enjoyed phenomenal growth. From its initial handful of active members, a single skeet and a single trap field, the club can now boast three skeet fields, a state-of-the-art trap field, a highly developed sporting clays course, and a challenging compact sporting clays venue, all of which combined with a comfortable clubhouse, make FTSC one of the finest clay target facilities in eastern Canada. We currently have almost 100 members and each year we welcome many visitors to our events from other clubs in the Maritimes and beyond.

Some readers unfamiliar with clay target shooting may already be asking “what are trap, skeet and sporting clays?” Perhaps most simply stated, all three are versions of a safe sport in which eye, mind, body and equipment are focused, and then coordinated to propel strings of shot pellets, each string weighing 35 grams or less, to intersect and break small, fast-flying clay discs at distances ranging from 20 m to more than 50 m, in less than “the blink of an eye”. All of this takes place on prescribed fields or courses, and involves 25-100 targets depending on the nature of the event.

In basic trap, each member of a squad of five shooters stands on a concrete pad (station) located on a tight curve 14.6 m from the front of the trap “house” and calls for the “bird”. Targets fly at random angles away from the shooter, such that they normally travel 40 or more metres before the shot string catches up with them. After five targets, shooters rotate one station to the right until each member of the squad has shot a total of 25 targets.

In basic skeet, each member of a squad of five shooters is challenged by targets while standing on stations most of which are located on the circumference of a 19 m radius semicircle. The target launchers are located in “houses” 38 m apart on the diameter of the circle; the house on the left is referred to as the “high house” where the target emerges from overhead. The house on the right is the “low house” from which the target emerges at waist level. Stations1 to 7 are spaced evenly along the circumference of the semicircle from the high house around to the low house such that from each station, the angle of approach of the high and low house targets changes. This means that for each station, the shooter must adjust eye, mind, body and shotgun to accommodate the change in angle thus ensuring the shot string is launched with the correct lead to intersect the target. Station 8 is located halfway along the diameter between the two houses and thus involves rapidly approaching and rising targets.

Sporting clays is more “freestyle” in nature since the format is not fixed from one event to another; rather, the presentation of targets is usually modified to some degree for each new event. FTSC’s sporting clays course is laid out along an extensive trail system on our 130 ha property, with target presentations at 13 shooting stations configured to simulate the flight of typical game bird species or bouncing rabbits. Further, a variety of different sizes and shapes of targets are utilized in sporting clays, all of which combine to challenge the competitor with interesting presentations and various levels of difficulty.

Compact sporting clays (also known as “5-Stand”) involves a squad of 5 shooters on a row of closely situated stations. Targets are presented from, in our case 12 different launchers which propel the targets from overhead, incoming, crossing at various angles, and going away. As with regular sporting clays, targets may be thrown as “singles” or “doubles” or as doubles where a second target rapidly follows the first. At FTSC compact sporting clays is offered during the “offseason” months after the regular sporting clays course is closed in the fall and before it opens in the spring.

Unfortunately, unfairly, and despite the fact that trap and skeet are Olympic sports, too often those of us who are engaged in shooting sports are characterized as something akin to red-necked louts solely interested in blasting our way through life. In reality, as most sensible people know, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, such thoughtless characterization of a clay target shooter would be no different than labelling a golfer as a club-swinging neanderthal intent on laying waste to anything in his or her path. Not surprisingly, there are many similarities between the coordinated mind-body-equipment relationships of golfers and clay target shooters. Both focus on proper positioning and movement of hands, arms, trunk, hips and feet; on developing a smooth, seemingly effortless swing; of keeping the eye on the ball/target; and in ensuring proper follow-through to make certain the shot produces the desired result. As such, it is the elegance and finesse of a smooth swing and fine shot execution that paints the beauty of a well placed golf shot, or a clay target that disappears in a puff of dust.

In the opening paragraph I pointed to the growth FTSC has enjoyed. While this has been happening over several years, it is within the last ten years that a quantum leap forward has taken place. Much of this is due to the dedication and motivation of the club members whose hard work in growing and developing the club has been paying off. Important also, has been the support from major suppliers to our sport, and the community in general, enabling us to present the popular programs that we offer to members and visitors.

Our members represent a broad diversity of professional talents and experience which they continue to donate to the club as it builds new facilities, maintains existing ones, develops new programs, and provides a welcoming environment to all who visit our club. We are particularly excited to see the growing number of younger shooters joining our club and taking an active role in its development. This helps, not only in rapidly dispelling the myth that clay target shooting is out of step with the present, but more importantly it helps to secure a bright future for our club and our sport.

With the focus on increasing our membership, we actively search out opportunities to build for the future. In this regard, our members volunteer for a number of programs including the annual Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) Program, Women in Wellness, the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources/Fredericton Area Hunter Safety Instructors Association Youth Field Training Day, Scouts Canada, our in-house Novice/Student Training Program and a host of corporate events where we have been requested to deliver a “team-building experience” at our club. From such investments of our time we are able to generate interest in our sport and build for the future. If nothing else, we offer youthful interests the opportunity to put down the computer game controller and participate in outdoor activities which offer every bit as much potential for satisfying individual competitive urges as does any “couch-bound” game!

When I first wrote this article in May 2006, I indicated that we had not been very successful in attracting women as members to our club. In 2012, one of our very keen women members developed a program just for women. We are ecstatic to now be able to say that we have a very active women’s program, as well as a fully integrated men and women’s program. In 2012 and 2013 we offered 5 special Sunday morning sessions for women only and in each of those two years we have provided training to 60 women, some of whom have joined our club as members while others visit on occasion, when they can, to renew their interest.

Our club’s major events are the Ruffed Grouse Society Sporting Clays Shoot in May; The Winchester Ammunition/Remington Firearms Sporting Clays Shoot in June; The Beretta Canada Atlantic Sporting Clays Challenge in July; and the Browning New Brunswick Sporting Clays Championship held in August. Our final major shooting event is the Royal New Brunswick Rifle Association Shotgun Championship held in September. For these 100 target events, we can expect to host between 50 and 175 shooters for a full day’s competition. While the shooting experience is the prime mover, prizes valued at several thousands of dollars, donated by our sponsors and members, are also a significant factor in the continued success of most of these events.

In 2005 we completed the development of two new skeet fields and are now able to offer official shoots sanctioned by the National Skeet Shooting Association, the international body governing skeet competitions. The George Lindsay Memorial Four Gun Mini-Shoot held in April, is such a skeet event comprising 50 targets each of 12, 20, 28 and .410 guns.

In 2006 we installed a new trap machine capable of throwing single and double targets, all with the intent of improving members’ skills for regional competitive events sanctioned by the Amateur Trap Association. Our trap committee organizes league shooting for members and travels to clubs in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Maine, Québec and Ontario for regional and national shoots.

There are some members of our club who enjoy shooting competitively at regional and national events. However, for those of us who do so, this comes as a distant second to the primary aim of developing our club and furthering the popularity of the sport for our members and guests. We remind new members, as well as ourselves, that we all started as novice shooters with only a strong grounding in firearm safety. And speaking of safety; safety is Number 1 in our club with well publicized rules which are rigorously observed and enforced. As a result, our sport has an enviable safety record.
 
Words, no matter how well intended, are pretty much inadequate to incite but a passing curiosity in most sports, and so it is with ours. We would much rather have anyone interested in learning about our sport come for a visit and provide us with the opportunity to show you, to teach you and hopefully to enthuse you about clay target shooting. FTSC is located 16 km south of Fredericton on the Hanwell Road and is open to members and visitors on Tuesday evenings for sporting clays (May-September), Wednesday evenings for trap & skeet (May-September), Saturday morning for trap (October-April) and Sunday afternoon for trap and skeet, year round. We feature a number of other events during the spring, summer and autumn, all of which, together with additional information is available on our web site: www.ft-sc.com.

We look forward to meeting all those who have an interest in clay target shooting!

Bev Bacon is an active member and a past president of FTSC.