EVOLUTION OF FLIGHTS & ANGLES – 101 Part 2 In summarizing trapshooting from the introduction of clay targets in 1880, we should understand that for nearly 75 years, regulations called targets to include angles at 45°. This measurement was initially known as a left and right quartering target flight, following the principles of describing angles of flight of live birds during the early days of the sport when pigeons and sparrows were used. The recommended distance at which targets were to be thrown was 50 yards, just as it is today. However, the rules as written were lenient, tolerating a minimum distance of 40 yards and a maximum distance of 60 yards. In setting the height of targets, 15° and no more than 17° were the measurements used. This placed targets in the area of today’s setting and was determined at 10 yards out on level with the bottom of the trap. The minimum target height at that point was 6 feet and the maximum height was 12 feet. Sometime circa 1922 the distance regulation targets could be thrown was narrowed to 45 to 55 yards. About 1950 the target distance was again narrowed from 45 to 55 yards, to 48 to 52 yards. The target angles remained at 45° left and right of a straightaway from Post 3. Target height remained at 6ft. to 12ft. measured 10 yards from the trap. Another important piece of information which stands out is that the ATA rules for many decades called for double targets to be thrown 50 yards at a width of 35°. The below A.T.A. target setting requirements are for 1954, that can be found on page 46 in the 1955 edition of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Institute’s “Handbook On Shotgun Shooting”. A.T.A. rules underwent a huge transformation in 1955. In addition to increasing the handicap distance of shooters by 2 additional yards, moving the “back fence” from 25 to 27 yards, rules for Flights and Angles also saw a monumental change. Target height was changed from 6 to 12 feet to 8 to 12 feet measured 10 yards from the trap and even more noteworthy was the narrowing of the target flight angles from 45° to 22°. Below are the rules as printed in the 1955 A.T.A. Official Rulebook : Throughout the next 40 years trapshooting would see many improvements. Interrupters were given space in the rulebook when it was found that some shooters had mastered reading just where the next target would be thrown by the Western White Flyer V1524 trap. This machine provided 5 angle settings and the #3-hole setting was used under normal circumstances to comply with the rules calling for minimum left and right angle settings as straightaways from firing points No. 1 and No. 5. Here are the approximate angles of each setting: #1 hole – 13 ½ degrees #2 hole – 17 degrees #3 hole – 22 degrees #4 hole – 27 degrees #5 hole – 30 ½ degrees It remains puzzling that when the Western White Flyer Electric Trap, Model V1524A was introduced in 1950, the widest angle adjustment was approximately 30 ½ ° yet the rule change narrowing the angles to 22° did not happen until approved in August 1954 for the 1955 target year. Could it be that it was already common practice (prior to 1950) for gun clubs to set their angles as straightaways from firing points 1 & 5 (the #3-hole or 22° setting) ? Over the decades from the mid 1950s, shoot management at some gun clubs started throwing narrow and short targets so shooters could card higher scores. They equated higher scores with happy shooters who would be more likely to attend more events at their club. Of course these targets did not comply with the regulations and many times articles appeared in TRAP & FIELD magazine from notable shooters including officers of the A.T.A., admonishing this practice and warning of the consequences. Here are some examples: ATA NEWS By Vic Reinders LEGAL TARGETS Reports are reaching us that some clubs are deliberately throwing “easy” targets. This practice is partly responsible for some of the high scores in some areas. Your attention is directed to the rules on Page 19 of the 1958 rule book. These rules call for targets to be thrown 48 to 52 yards – not 45 yards as is done some places. This rule applies to doubles too. All measurements are to be made in terms of level ground and still air. A good policy to follow is to set the traps for distance when there is no wind and then not change them to compensate for winds that may be blowing the day of the shoot. The slight adjustment needed to make the targets of legal height will not appreciably change the distance. Another bad habit of some clubs is throwing narrow angles instead of those recommended by the rule book. Usually this is done by using the number two hole instead of the number three hole when using the model of trap in most common usage. Angle targets should be thrown so as to be straight-aways from positions 1 and 5. Actually, angles 25 degrees outside of this are still legal. Obviously, to keep competition equitable throughout the country all clubs should attempt to throw targets to standard distances and angles. I am urging all ATA delegates as well as state and club officials to check targets at all shoots to see that they conform to rules. This should correct such conditions and make it unnecessary to refuse registration of scores shot under such “easy” conditions. Shooters, too, should insist on standard targets to protect themselves. All of this is just common sense. Every sport has carefully controlled specifications in their rules. You can’t even claim a record in the 100-yard dash if you have a wind at your back. So we’re certainly lenient enough. TRAP & FIELD, July 1958, page 30 ATA EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETING November 13-15, 1959 Vandalia, Ohio Rules Legal target angles were redefined to require that the extreme angles be at least straightaways from positions 1 and 5. This change was made to help eliminate the practice in some places of throwing easy targets.Targets at the 1960 Grand will conform to this rule. TRAP & FIELD, January 1960, page 8 ATA NEWS RULES AND RULE CHANGES Angles Our rules for some time have specified the maximum and minimum distance for targets, the maximum and minimum height of targets, the maximum and minimum weight of targets and even the maximum and minimum height, width and length of traphouses. Maximums only were specified for amount of powder, amount of shot and the size of the targets themselves. Minimums are not needed for these specifications because common sense takes care of them, as shooters realize that going below certain amounts of powder or shot is a handicap, and target manufacturers know that no one would buy small targets. For years only the maximum was specified for angles as there seemed to be no need for setting the minimum. Recently some clubs have started a practice of throwing narrow angles and even short targets, on the basis expressed by one prominent former club manager : “They paid for ‘em; let ‘em break ‘em.” This has “impaired equity of competition,” a phrase extensively used in the rule book. So this year the rules specify both the maximum formerly included and also a newly included minimum for angles. This minimum amounts to 22 degrees right and left of center – which is what straightaways from #1 and #5 positions measure out to if the shooting positions are legally laid out. This will assure more uniform targets from club to club throughout the country and seems to conform to the wishes of most shooters if the poll taken last fall is any indication. Now if we can achieve uniformity in the fragility of the targets and can figure out a way to compensate for the effect of altitude on the speed of targets, we’ll be well on our way to real uniformity in our tournament conditions (if the weather would cooperate.) TRAP & FIELD, February 1960, page 10 Vic’s Views The comments, remarks and opinions expressed in this column are strictly mine and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Executive Committee, or of the Board of Directors of the ATA. Vic Reinders LEGAL TARGETS Enough has been said about angles in the past, and the situation has pretty well straightened out by vigorous action of the Executive Committee at the 1962 Grand. Only a few clubs still persist in throwing “soft” targets with narrow angles in pursuit of the philosophy that “they paid for ‘em, let them break ‘em. A side wind has surprisingly little effect on the angles of targets until they get past the usual shooting point, so it can be more or less ignored. Difference in height of right and left angles in a side wind can be largely corrected by proper trap adjustments. Some people have the idea that doubles targets are to be thrown less than 50 yards. I even had the president of one of our largest state associations tell me that they were to be thrown 45 yards. It is not true; they are still to be thrown 50 yards. It is convenient to set 50-yard stakes at the proper angle (22 degrees) for this purpose. Lacking such angle stakes, and if all of the traps are in a straight line, a pretty good job of setting doubles for distance can be done by dropping them about 11’ from a line through the usual 50-yard stakes in front of each trap. That 11’ compensates for the arch. I’ve been a bit curious about some of the high doubles scores we have had in the last year or so. I’m wondering how the distance was on some of those doubles. I even wondered about my own 100 straight last summer until I checked on the targets afterwards. TRAP & FIELD, May 1964, page 26 Vic’s ViewsThe comments, remarks and opinions expressed in this column are strictly mine and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Executive Committee, or of the Board of Directors of the ATA. Vic Reinders RULE BOOK CHANGES At its October meeting the Executive Committee made some rule changes that affect all shooters as well as shoot managers. Most of these changes are on rules that have long been controversial and which are the ones that have suffered most from lack of uniform enforcement. It is hoped that the new rules will be better understood by clubs, shooters and scorers and will be enforced more rigidly and more uniformly. In fact, I now see little reason for any misinterpretation or difference of opinion on these rules, so there is no excuse for lack of enforcement of them. To call these changes to the attention of the shooters, all changed rules are printed in bold face type in the 1966 rule book. Target Specifications Because of failure of clubs to understand or abide by the rules regarding what constitutes a legal angle, the Executive Committee has clarified the situation a bit on pages 20 and 21 of the rule book by showing the distance between the straightaway stake ( F ) and the two minimum angle stakes ( E & G ) in feet as well as in degrees of angle. Clubs will now find it easier to set those angle stakes accurately. Then if the trap doesn’t throw the extreme angles at least that wide, the trap can be adjusted until it does. TRAP & FIELD, February 1966, page 12-13 Vic’s Views Soft Targets Some years ago we went through a period of “soft targets.” For a while it was quite common to find “2-hole” targets at shoots, and it even reached the Grand. Then a reaction set in, and for a couple of years the rules were adhered to pretty well. Now it is starting again, and “2-hole” targets, and short distance targets are appearing in places. Aside from the fact that “rules are rules,” it is a short-sighted policy for a club to throw such targets, even in practice. Their shooters get used to them, and then when they go elsewhere and encounter legal targets, they have poor luck, and start cussing everything but the true cause. It makes about as much sense as practicing the high hurdles with 3’ 3” hurdles, or practicing basketball with a big hoop. TRAP & FIELD, July 1977, page 96 During the 1979 Grand American tournament, the Executive Committee discussed the legal target issue. Two vice-presidents supported a motion that the “Grand targets be set in the three hole.” Two vice-presidents opposed the motion and the ATA President cast his deciding vote . . . against the motion. Our leaders could not even agree on how to set targets to comply with the rules. Over the years Vic Reinders, had written countless articles about the problem and this lengthy compilation appeared in the August issue of TRAP & FIELD. The definition of a legal target was a topic of discussion by Directors at their annual ATA meeting at the same tournament, producing a motion was made by the Wisconsin Delegate to include the #3-hole setting in the rule book to clarify the proper angles. The Minnesota Delegate provided a second to the motion but it was defeated by majority vote. More attempts by future A.T.A. Executive Committees were made introducing new language into the rules to clear up any misunderstanding and insure that shoot managers knew that throwing “soft” targets would not be tolerated. None succeeded and while most clubs were throwing targets at 22° and untold number continued to set soft targets at 17°. The ATA minutes from the Board of Directors’ meeting held during the 1980 Grand American Handicap proved that those holding elected positions within the A.T.A. (Executive Committee & Delegates), were not even willing to enforce the existing rules regarding “flights and angles” when the New Hampshire Delegate as a member of the Target Setting Committee, informed that “the Committee had been setting two-hole, 49-yard targets.” While several argued against the soft target and spoke in favor of the three-hole target, the consensus of the Directors agreed with the Committee’s present manner of target setting. Again in 1981 a reminder of the target setting rules were discussed in an article by the A.T.A. President who offers a look at how soft targets will affect the sport in the future. Then in 1992, at the annual A.T.A. Board of Directors meeting, a motion was made by an ATA Delegate from the West to amend the rules “to provide that targets shall be thrown between 49 and 51 yards, with recommended distance to be 50 yards, and all traps be set in the #2 hole.” Since the introduction of the Western White Flyer V1524 trap, the #3 hole setting was used to throw targets in compliance with the existing rules. The #2 hole setting on the above trap was equivalent to an angle of 17.14° and would once again narrow the target field. The motion received a second but upon the majority of Delegates voting against the motion, it failed. In August 1993, the A.T.A. Executive Committee reported to the Directors that they had made amendments to the rules. The President, in providing examples, reported that all handicap yardage will begin at the 19.0 yard line, eliminating the17 and 18 yard marks used previously. The change gaining most attention was that “commencing on October 1, 1993, all ATA Registered Targets thrown at any tournament where ATA trophies are awarded will be required to be thrown by traps set in the “3-hole.” This was perceived by many Delegates to be a change to widen the target angles, however in reality it was an attempt to provide clear language and intent of the existing rule. The 3-hole setting threw legal targets; the 2-hole did not. On a motion by the State Delegate from Iowa and second from the New Mexico Delegate, Directors voted in favor to rescind the amendments made by the E.C. to Official Rule III, N., FLIGHTS AND ANGLES. By rescinding the E. C.’s amendment of the Flights and Angles rules, once again the some members of the Executive Committee and Delegates actually voted to permit all clubs and tournaments to throw non-regulation targets, a direct violation of the rules. At their meeting in early 1995, the Executive Committee In June 1995 Trap and Field printed excerpts of a letter sent to all Delegates by the ATA President. The letter was a rebuttal to an earlier communication to all Delegates by the Delegate from Minnesota suggesting the E. C. be admonished for amending the rules to throw a more difficult target than they were used to shooting. The President outlined the Flights & Angles target setting rules, straightaway settings from Posts 1 and 5, just as they had been for 40 years and provided statistics in support of maintaining the rules as they have been since that time. At the August 1995 annual Board of Directors meeting during the Grand American, another attempt was made at amending the A.T.A. Flights & Angles rules, again narrowing the angles even further to “somewhat less” than a straightaway from firing point one and five. A motion to this effect was made by the Minnesota Delegate and seconded by the Delegate from Washington. The motion received 20 votes for and 33 votes against. The 22° angle (straightaway from No. 1 and No. 5 firing points) survived another year. In summary, from 1954 through 1996, one Executive Committee after another made attempts to insure that existing rules regarding minimum target angles and flight distance were complied with by all gun clubs and shooters. But, on occasion, some Executive Committees permitted targets to be thrown during the Grand American Handicap tournament that did not comply with the rules. Some believe that the Board of Directors saw these amendments as making targets more difficult, failing to recognize that they were actually attempts at compliance with existing rules. This completes the second part of the Evolution of Flights and Angles – 101. The final chapter addresses the change in position of the majority of the ATA Board of Directors, now very much in favor of softer targets and higher scores and little if any regard for the history of the sport.