Dusting clay pigeons is a great way to spend time with your shooting buddies.
Most ranges probably have a trap range, a skeet range and maybe even a sporting clays set-up of some sort. But what about the casual day out at your backyard range? How do you get those clay pigeons sailing through the air so you can smoke them?
Today we’ll take a look at some options that will allow you and your shooting buds to set up a fun clays range for the afternoon.
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Types of Throwers
There are really two main types of throwers available. Manual and automatic.
The manual throwers can be as simple as this MTM Clay Target Thrower. If you practice a bit and have someone with a decent arm, this option will work. However, for a better shooting experience let’s stick to the throwers with a spring activated throwing arm.
Manual throwers are classified as “full-cock” or “3/4-cock” mechanisms. The full-cock machines mean you have to manually pull the lever back to reset it against the full force of the spring.
On the other hand, the 3/4-cock machines have a gear or clutch mechanism that only lets the arm travel in one direction and the momentum of the arm partially cocks the machine so you have much less effort required to reset the machine.
Check out this video from Do All Outdoors showing how easy the 3/4-cock traps are to reset.
Got all that? Now we’ll go into the best clay throwers.
This trap is a great entry level 3/4-cock thrower. It has a tripod-type base that can be staked to the ground or mounted on a piece of plywood something else to make it more stable.
The trap can launch clays up to 70 yards and is adjustable up and down and side to side. It can also be configured to launch rabbit targets. These are meant to mimic a bouncing, running rabbit and roll on their edge along the ground.
If you can’t talk someone into some range time, the One-Step allows the shooter to launch clays and shoot by themselves. This is a full-cock thrower, so the reset effort is a bit more.
However, you can load singles or doubles and also launch high-angle clays. To launch the bird simply step on the lever to release the throwing arm.
For $29 you can hardly go wrong with this basic trap. The trap allows you to launch singles, stacked doubles and or side-by-side doubles. Clays can be launched up to 55 yards with this little machine. I borrowed my brother-in-law’s Competitor to teach my nephew the basics of shotgun shooting.
By easing up the spring tension a bit you can slow the targets down and allow them to “float” a bit and get new shooters into the groove and learning how to engage moving targets. A great entry level trap.
Note: this trap needs to be staked securely or mounted to something heavy so it doesn’t jump around too much.
When you’re ready to spend more time on the range and want speed up your shooting it’s time to look at getting an automatic trap. These traps will generally be powered by a 12-volt battery and allow you to load 50 or more clay targets in the magazine.
The trap is released remotely by a wired switch or a wireless set-up depending on the model. Most of the remote switches are designed to be foot operated so you can launch targets when shooting by yourself.
The coolest thing about automatic traps is that they are available with options that move side-to-side, up and down or both so you never know exactly how the target will be launched!
The WheelyBird 2.0 is the upgraded model of the WheelyBird – and the upgrades are nice! The cycle time is only 1.75 seconds and there is now a wireless remote and a foot pedal to allow for more variation and shooting angles.
Best of all, the WheelyBird 2.0 can launch targets up to 75 yards.
The Fowl Play trap has a lot of great features for practicing your wing shooting skills. The trap will throw targets up to 55 yards and can be adjusted from 5 to 35 degrees of elevation.
To really add some challenge to your practice just bolt on the Adjustable Wobbler Kit. The Wobbler allows targets to launch from random left to right angles as well as changing the elevation. The Fowl Play trap comes with a 25 foot wired foot pedal, but a wireless upgrade is available.
This is a great thrower, to begin with, and the optional upgrades allow you to continue to improve over time.
What’s your take on it?
If you are an aspiring wing-shooter having your own trap makes a lot of sense. As long as you have a safe area to practice these traps allow you to shoot anytime you want and will likely save you a fair amount of money over time.
If I were to purchase a manual trap today I’d definitely be looking at 3/4-cock models because of their ease of resetting.
I really like the Fowl Play automatic thrower from Do-All Outdoors because as a base model you get everything you need plus the option to upgrade and continue challenging your shooting abilities.
No matter which one you choose, you’re sure to have a blast every time the shooter yells “Pull!”.
Want more shotguns in your life? Check out our 5 Best Home-Defense Tactical Shotguns!
Do you shoot trap? What’s your favorite shotgun? Let us know in the comments!