Sportsmen's Association holds trap shoot

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
East Hartford - posted Wed., Jun. 20, 2012
East Hartford Sportsmen's Association member Ed Duell holds a clay ‘pigeon.’ While historically, the sport used live pigeons, today's targets are disk-shaped, more closely resembling an ash tray.
East Hartford Sportsmen's Association member Ed Duell holds a clay ‘pigeon.’ While historically, the sport used live pigeons, today's targets are disk-shaped, more closely resembling an ash tray.

Novice clay target shooters and seasoned hunters alike had the opportunity to learn to shoot or improve their shooting skills on Saturday, June 16, when the East Hartford Sportsmen’s Association held its first public trap shoot of the year on club grounds on North Meadows Lane.

“We hold shoots about five or six times a year - one this week, one next week, and then a few times in the fall,” said Association President John DiRosa. “All summer, people don’t hunt, so the first few weeks [of the season], they can be really rusty.”

Later in the fall, after the shooting events, DiRosa said the club holds a field trial with hunting dogs to sharpen them up for the season. “That’s always a lot of fun,” he said. To prepare for the field trials, DiRosa said the EHSA releases about 750 pheasants into their training field so the dogs - pointers, Labradors, retrievers, and other breeds - can be trained to point or flush out the game.

Established in 1932, the purpose of the club, in part, is to band together sportsmen interested in hunting and fishing, and to promote legislation to improve hunting and fishing conditions. A genial group, club members are always willing to share their knowledge and expertise with regard to competitive shooting, as well as hunting and fishing skills.

If there is one thing the East Hartford Sportsmen’s Association professes, it is gun safety, said EHSA Vice President John Cook. “We have classes on safety. You have to be extremely safe with firearms,” he said. “You have to know your target. If in doubt, don’t shoot.”

“We allow no one here under 16 without a parent, and non-members can only go to supervised shoots,” added DiRosa.

The association also limits its membership to 75 dues-paying members plus another 25 retired lifetime members, as a larger number can create a crowding situation and become a safety issue, DiRosa said.

Trap shooting is one of three forms of competitive “clay pigeon” shooting, the other two being sporting clays and skeet shooting. In trap shooting competitions, a disk-shaped clay target is mechanically thrown from a single low house structure. Five competitors each standing at a different concrete pad station take individual turns at shooting one of the targets, each then rotating to the next station. In comparison, skeet shooting involves shooting at two targets, one thrown from a high house and the other from a low house which sit across the range from each other.

Association member Ed Duell said trap shooters typically use a 12-gauge shotgun, although there are several different styles. Unlike a rifle or pistol, which shoots one solid bullet, a shotgun shoots out 350 to 400 small pellets that exit the gun in the shape of an egg or cone, he said. “The pellets, which are smaller than a BB, lose their energy quickly, about 75 yards down, so you want to hit the [targets] before they get more than 45 yards out.”

Trap shooting is a skill that takes some practice to acquire, not at all like hitting the broad side of a barn.

“You have to shoot at where you expect the target is going to be, not where you see it,” said Cook, who later joked good-naturedly that most “experienced” shooters who miss their targets will claim instead that they broke a few. “Of course most clays break when they hit the ground, so the statement is true!”

To learn more about the East Hartford Sportsmen’s Association, visit the website

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