Trap shooting has been a sport since at least 1793 when it used real birds, usually the Passenger Pigeon, which was extremely abundant at the time. Fake birds were introduced around the time of the American Civil War as the Passenger Pigeon was nearing extinction and sufficient numbers were not reliably available. Clay targets were introduced in the 1880's.
American Trap is popular throughout the United States and may well be the most popular form of clay target shooting in North America. The Amateur Trapshooting Association or ATA governs official events and rules. The ATA is generally considered the governing body of American trapshooting and is one of the largest shooting sports organizations in the world. Another governing body is the Pacific International Trap Association (PITA) which is active mainly in the western US. PITA rules are nearly identical to ATA rules.
The ATA hosts the Grand American World Trap Shooting Championships, which is held every August. After decades in Vandalia, Ohio, the "Grand" moved to the new World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta, Illinois. The Grand attracts many thousands of shooters for the thirteen-day event, which is billed as the world's largest shooting event.
The ATA sanctions registered trapshooting competitions at local clubs and facilities throughout North America, and it also coordinates Zone competitions leading up to the Grand American each summer along with "Satellite Grands" throughout the U.S. State organizations also hold state championship shoots each year, which are also coordinated with and sanctioned by the ATA.
American trap is broken down into three categories: 16 yd singles, 16 yd doubles and, handicap which is shot between 18 and 27 yd. In singles each shooter takes one shot at each of five targets in each of the five positions in sequence, while standing 16 yards (15.6 m) back from the trap house. The trap rotates back and forth so it is impossible to know which way the target is going to come out. Handicap is the same as singles but shot from further away. Adult male shooters start at the 20 yd line (18.3 m) and women and sub-juniors at 19 yd (17.3 m) and work their way back, "earning yardage" for shooting a score of 96 or higher, winning a championship or other major event, or shooting the highest score when 15 or more competitors shoot that event. No two shooters on the same squad should have a difference of more than three yards (2.7 m) between them. Doubles is shot from 16 yards (15.4 m) and the trap is fixed to fire straight away with the left and right targets appearing to be straight away when standing between positions 4 & 5; and 1 & 2, respectively. Two targets are thrown at the same time, with one shot per target allowed. There is no second shot on any target in American trap singles or handicap.
When shooting American trap for practice or fun, a squad of five will shoot 25 targets each for a total of 125. Registered ATA shoots require shooters to shoot 50, 100, or 200 targets per event (depending on the scheduled event). Most of these shoots are for personal average or handicap yardage.