Below are common questions we answer. If your question is not listed or answered here, email us or stop by during a shoot and we will answer any of your questions.

About Registered Targets (ATA) (2)

What is the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA)?

The Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA) is the governing body for the sport of trapshooting. It is one of the oldest rule-making bodies in the all of the shooting sports. It’s headquarters is currently in Vandalia Ohio, though it is likely to be relocated due to growth and changing land use within the next couple of years. Most clubs operate their trap shoots according to ATA rules and regulations whether or not they throw registered targets. For more information on the ATA visit the ATA Home Page.

What are registered targets?

Registered targets are trapshooting competitions where the final score for each shooters is sent off to the ATA and added to that shooters yearly, and lifetime total and average. Since all registered shoots are governed by the same rules, this allows shooters to be classified and handicapped with fellow shooters from around the country.

A registered shoot is a shooting program pre-approved by the ATA and scheduled well in advance so that all shooters know, and can attend the program. A typical program involves one day of shooting for 100 singles, 100 handicap, and 100 doubles targets.

There are many variations with major tournaments encompassing anywhere from a weekend or long weekend to an entire week. The Grand American Trap shoot is the super bowl of trapshooting and takes place each year in August at the home grounds in Sparta, Illinois. For more information on registered targets visit the ATA Home Page.

West Chester Gun Club shoots registered shoots regularly. Search the events for ATA & Registered shoots for the complete schedule.

About Trap Shooting (7)

What is trap shooting?

Trapshooting is one of the oldest of the shooting sports and the oldest of the shotgun sports. The game has it’s roots in live bird shooting. The name trapshooting probably originates from the devices used to hold the birds until the shooter made his call for the target.

Is trapshooting safe?

Gun clubs operate under strict, self-defined rules of gun safety. There are very few gun related injuries reported during organized trap shoots. All safe gun handling techniques apply to trapshooting but see the trapshooting gun safety page for a few additions.

How does the game work (singles)?

Five shooters stand at five different positions along a marked semi-circle 16 yards behind the a cement structure called a trap house. The “trap” or target throwing machine is located inside the trap house and the house serves to protect the machine, the target loader, and to hide the direction the target will be launched.

Each shooter, starting with the person on post 1 (the left most post when looking at the back of the trap house) takes a turn. He calls for and shoots at one target. Each shooter through station 5 does the same. The target is thrown anywhere in the trap field at a prescribed range of speed and angles. When all five shooters have shot one target the rotation comes around again to the post 1 shooter.

This is repeated five times (sometimes 10, depending on the club). When the shooter on post 1 calls for and shoots at his fifth target at Post 1, the scorekeeper will call the result (dead or lost) and then declare END loud enough for all to hear. This is the signal that that is the last target to be shot on this post. When shooter #5 shoots his target, all shooters move to the next post to his or her right with the shooter on post 5 walking to post 1.

The shooting then starts anew with the squad leader (the person who shot at Post 1 the first time) always leading off. So the round continues until the all shooters have completed all five posts and shot 25 shells. (Again, by new rule changes, it may be 50 targets a round instead of 25).

** A round is 25 attempts at 25 targets from the 16 yard line.

What are Doubles?

Doubles is shot at 16 yards. The obvious difference here is that 2 targets emerge from the trap house at once upon the shooter’s call. The main difference otherwise is that, unlike singles, the doubles targets fly at unchanging angles (the machine does not oscillate as it does in singles).

The shooters shoot one shot at each target attempting to break both. It is permissible within the rules to shoot at the same target twice though this is not good practice for becoming a smooth and effective doubles trap shooter.

A round is 25 attempts at 50 targets from the 16 yard line. (you will need 50 shells per round)

What is Handicap?

Shooting a handicap round works the same as described above, but the shooter stands further away from the trap based on known ability. This known ability is generally established by participating in ATA Registered Handicap events but may be assigned by local clubs for non-registered shooters.

The shortest handicap is 19 yards and the longest is 27 yards. In other words, an inexperienced shooter may be shooting at 20 yards, and an experienced one at 27 yards. This helps shooters to compete at an even level.

*If shooting handicap you can only be 1.5 yards closer or further from the trap house as the shooters to the left or right of you for safety.

A round is 25 attempts at 25 targets from a distance over 18 yards.

Do I need a special gun to shoot trap?

No, a special gun is not required. Most hunting shotguns will work just fine. It is recommended that you use a 12 gauge shotgun as it is the standard and the easiest to learn with.

Trapshooters are notorious gun traders and buyers and you will see everything on the shooting line from $200.00 Mossbergs to $20,000 custom trap guns with a wide range in between. The targets really don’t care and any 12 gauge gun is quite capable of breaking targets.

If you try the sport, and enjoy it, you may want to invest in a trap gun in the future, but you certainly don’t need one just to try the sport out or to shoot it casually. A word of advice would be to make sure your gun is in good, safe, clean, operating condition when you come to the club. Most hunters never shoot their guns very much compared to a gun used for trap. Several hundred rounds in a week is not uncommon for a trap gun. If your gun is dirty or has mechanical problems they will show up in a hurry on the trap line and you will have a humiliating and frustrating experience. Also, if you plan on shooting Dad’s old Sear SxS, by all means do so, but first take the gun to a gunsmith and make sure it is in sound operating condition and can withstand the rigors of trap.

What special equipment do I need to shoot trap?

Not a lot.

A couple of boxes of shells of course. Each round of trap requires 1 box (25 shells). Try to avoid buying game loads. Ideally, look for a light target load. You won’t have a lot of fun if you get a black and blue shoulder or face from heavy loads.

You should also need some eye protection like a good pair of shooting glasses, and ear protection. Both are required.

You want to have a way to hold your shells too. You can wear a light hunting vest such as one used for dove or small game hunting. You can use a jacket with big pockets. You can also buy a shooting vest or shooting pouch. Vest’s typically have additional padding built into the shoulders and plenty of pocket space for shells, glasses, and hearing protection. A shell pouch is just a little pouch that attaches to your belt and holds enough shells for one or two rounds. (if you are just starting out, you can use the box that the shells are held in)

If you have none of these things including a gun, come on out to the club and tell the person running the shoot you’d like to try trap but have no equipment. We do have rental guns to use for a small fee to cover the cleaning and maintenance.

About West Chester Gun Club (9)

Do I need to be a member of a gun club to shoot trap?

West Chester Gun Club is open to the public along with all registered shoots are open to the public.

There is  a nominal fee for practice, and sometimes an extra charge for a “prize” shoot, but generally in target shooting, the cost of the targets is very minimal.

If you wish to shoot registered shoots, you must be a member of the ATA. You can join the ATA right at the club on the day of the shoot.

All guests are required to sign a waiver at the club.

How much does a round cost?

Please see our pricing page for the latest prices.

How much is membership?

Please see membership and pricing for the latest information

What is the benefit of becoming a member?

The immediate benefit of becoming a member is that you will no longer have to pay a daily membership fee.

After 1 year of membership (April to March) and as long as you have continued to have not lapsed in membership, you can run for the Board of Directors and participate in the election of the Board. As the club is run by it’s members, for it’s members, the Board directs the activities and operations of the club in supporting it’s members.

Special Member only events

Supporting shotgun sports in Chester County

Do WCGC have gun rentals?

West Chester Gun Club has premium Browning Trap Shotguns for rent.  They may be rented by members (and guests of members) who have completed a safety check.

What is the age limit for shooting at West Chester Gun Club

We do not have an age limit. Minors under the age of 18 are required to be on the grounds with a parent or guardian.  It is the responsibility of the parent or guardian to ensure the minor has safe firearm handling skills and does not pose a treat to themselves or others.

West Chester Gun Club has the right to check the safety skills of any shooter on the grounds before the shooter joins a squad. Management, the range safety officer, or any shooter can call a cease fire to address any safety issue. Any shooter or parent can ask for a safety review or training for new shooters.

We feel this sport is a great way for families to spend time together and we welcome young shooters. Please see our hosted youth program for more information about young shooters.

Where is the club located?

We are located at 200 E. Boot Rd, West Chester, PA 19380.

For driving directions visit the directions page.

When is the club open for shooting?

We operate on Tuesdays and Sundays excluding holidays.

Check the event calendar for operating dates, times, and shooting events.

Do you have pistol or rifle ranges?


We are a trap and shotgun club only. We do not have facilities for pistol or rifle.

If you are looking for pistol and rifle ranges try these ranges and private clubs near us.

Open to the Public Ranges:

For a list of clubs that shoot clays, visit http://www.claytargetsonline.com/list.php/PA