With a total of 170 registered shoots in the 2018 CPSA calendar versus 154 in 2017 and just 112 in 2016, it’s clear that the enormously fun discipline of Sportrap is growing in popularity. I spoke to a number of shooters to find out why they have taken it up, and some of the responses were most enlightening. Sean Gibson of Widdrington Gun Club told me that he enjoys the opportunity to shoot an interesting variety of targets without covering a lot of ground. The compact nature of the discipline means that people with reduced mobility like Sean, who has a back problem, can spend more time shooting. David Wooley, another regular at Widdrington, told me he enjoys the varied nature of the targets and sequencing, meaning the shooter is always on his toes.
My wife, who only took up shooting 12 months ago, loves Sportrap practice for the sheer fun of it. It’s challenging, but her view is that challenging targets are nothing to be afraid of – how else is one to learn to get better? Close proximity to the squad and the lighthearted nature of the discipline in practice make this an ideal way to introduce new shooters to thinking about how to plan a shot without the pressure of feeling alone with a crowd of people waiting behind the stand.
For those not yet in the know, Sportrap is a squadded discipline. Five guns stand in five 1m enclosures which are placed in a line 3m apart. They shoot a course comprising five targets at each stand, for a total of 25 targets per round. Five traps are normally arrayed to throw a variety of presentations, which are shot in sequence. Each stand has a menu board depicting the target order for that stand – single, report pair and simo pair.
Starting with the gun in stand one, each participant will engage a single down the stands until all shooters have shot their first bird. Then stand one will shoot a report pair, and again the rest of the squad will follow in sequence. The simo pair is shot last. Once all shooters have completed the five birds for their stand everyone moves one stand to the right, apart from the shooter on stand five, who moves all the way up the line to stand one. The round then continues with the same pattern of single, report pair, simo pair. This continues until each shooter has engaged all the targets at every stand.
This may sound complex in writing, but it’s easy to get into the swing of it once you have shot a round. The challenge is in remembering what birds you are about to see, and in working out what order you are going to address them in.
In regular practice sessions at my local ground there is a great deal of friendly banter among the shooters. This is a discipline where the whole squad will often be rooting for any shooter able to hit a tricky pair, especially if they are taken the ‘wrong’ way round. It’s a discipline that encourages this sort of camaraderie with your squad because the shooters are close together as they take on a variety of targets. In a typical layout you might see a looper, a battue, a quartering bird, a crosser and perhaps even a rabbit or a springer, all of which usually look hittable individually. The challenge – and the fun – mounts as you combine these birds in the pairs.
Additionally, as you move from stand to stand the targets subtly, and in some cases dramatically, change. For instance, a quartering bird from stand one can be a going-away bird from stand five, and vice versa. Springers can be simple from right in the middle of stand three, but more challenging when tackled from one and five.
From the perspective of grounds who organise the competitions, Sportrap is an attractive proposition. Squads move relatively quickly from layout to layout and the proximity of the traps to the cages means that it’s easy to keep everything running. Scoring is simple, and while you can spend a fortune on expensive remotes, a reasonably well-trained referee can run the layout manually with few issues.
Getting into Sportrap is easy; more and more clubs are putting layouts in, and with regular practice available there’s no reason not to get stuck in.