Mark Head, foreground, Jon Heinonen, shooting, Joe Morris and Bruce MacDonald on the trap line at the Pemi Fish & Game Club in Holderness which will hold its annual New Year's Day Shoot. Registration opens at 8 a.m. with shooting to start at 9. (Bea Lewis/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
Trap shooters celebrate the new year with skill and shotguns
By BEA LEWIS, For The Laconia Daily Sun
HOLDERNESS — While most people will still be snuggled warmly in their beds, the morning of Jan. 1, a group of hardy sportsmen and women will ring in the arrival of 2017 with a literal bang.
The Pemigewasset Valley Fish & Game Club, founded in 1941, will continue its annual tradition of hosting a New Year's Day Trap Shoot.
The sport dates back to 1750 in England, when live birds were used as targets, released from under hats. Trapshooting began in the United States in 1831, and glass balls came into use as targets in the 1860s. In 1880, domed disks made of clay were invented, and remain in use today.
Thanks to a NRA grant, the trap range located on Beede Road is equipped with a Pat-Trap launcher capable of hurling optic orange clay targets still referred to as "birds" at nearly 60 mph, creating a challenging target for shotgunners.
The technique for trapshooting is quite different from rifle or pistol shooting in which a single bullet is fired with enough time to accurately aim at a usually stationary target. Trapshooters fire hundreds of pellets at a time, at a target that is moving downrange in a hurry, and often quickly laterally, typically with less than a second to smoothly swing the barrel of the shotgun and squeeze the trigger.
Those who have mastered the sport generally refer to the process as "pointing" the shotgun rather than aiming it.
In groups of five, known as a squad, shooters rotate through five positions or stations, firing five shots, from a distance of 16 yards behind the trap house, at each station, for a total round of 25. Each squad will shoot five rounds, during the course of the event, for a total of 100 targets.
The local club utilizes a single trap machine which is enclosed within a traphouse, downrange from the shooters' shooting positions. The house protects the launcher from weather and also acts to obscure the machine's oscillating throwing position, assuring that participants never known exactly where the next bird will be thrown. Each shooting station is equipped with a speaker-shaped voice-activated receiver allowing the shooter to call for the bird by saying
"pull" causing the machine to launch the target. The trap machine oscillates randomly from left to right within a 45-degree arc (up to 27 degrees right and left of center), and at least a 34-degree arc, (up to 17 degrees right and left of center.)
The public is welcome to come and watch the event, but should bring shooting earmuffs or foam plugs to protect their hearing and dress appropriately for the weather. Registration for participants opens at 8 a.m., with shooting to begin at 9. There will be chili, stew, and hot beverages available for those who attend.
Andy Engler of Bristol, the club's trap committee chairman said it's been a busy season at the trap field, highlighted by the hiring of MT2 of Arvada, Colorado, to complete the lead reclaimation and soil remediation project as part of the Pemi's ongoing commitment to being good stewards of the more than 330-acres the nonprofit owns and manages.
Directions to the Trap Range: From I-93, Exit 24, take Route 3 south for 0.8 of a mile into Ashland village, continuing left on Route 3 south for 2.6 miles to Route 175 north. Turn left on Route 175 and travel 1.7 miles to Hardhack Road, turn right and go 0.7 of a mile to Beede Road, bear right and proceed another 1.2 miles, see sign for Trap Range on the left.
Phyllis Grant keeps score during last year's New Year's Day Trap Shoot. (Bea Lewis/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
Jodi Aboujaoude of Gilford is on target as he fires his semi-automatic shotgun and shatters the orange clay target down range as it flies at nearly 60 mph after been thrown from the trap house. (Bea Lewis/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
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