Manual or automatic clay pigeon trap. Which should you choose?
You're planning on buying a trap to use on your own land. But which should you choose? Charles Holland weights up the options.
So you’ve got a piece of land and you’re wanting to break some clays. You’ve got a sensible budget. You’re not going completely wild but you’ve set aside £1,500. What do you need to know and which clay target thrower is best for you?
First, you need to make sure that no shot and no broken clays will fall on anyone else’s land around you and remember that you are not allowed to shoot over a right of way. The expected distance a shot can travel is 300 yards so you will need to take into consideration the angle of fire, shot size and wind direction when positioning your trap.
You are allowed to use the ground for up to 28 days a year. It’s always good to get neighbours onside before you begin and remember hats, ear defenders and eye protection are a must when shooting clays.
Which type of shooting?
Are you wanting to practise for game shooting, Sporting clays or just some all-round fun? This will determine the different angles that you will need to replicate and in turn will help you make the right decision on which clay trap to buy.
- For replicating pheasants and partridges, a sloping bank to launch your clays from is ideal. This will allow you to practise the three main shots for driven game: the straight driven, a right-to-left crosser and a left-to-right crosser. When firing the clays from a bank, it is important to make sure that the clay will travel well beyond the position of where you intend to stand.
- For replicating grouse, you will need to be careful in the initial set-up. Because the clays are coming in lower it can be dangerous — broken pieces of clay can fight back and cause some serious harm. Remember to consider your shot fallout here; the more you can move around your trap the more angles you can replicate, from your going-away birds to your straight driven, your quartering-in and your crossers.
- For Sporting clays, it is best to go to your local shooting ground to practise due to the volume of traps at their disposal, but there is nothing to stop you practising on a particular target that you have been struggling with.
Manual clay traps to consider
The main advantages of the manual trap are their versatility and the variation of clays they can present for not a huge expense. You can throw standard, midi and mini clays off one arm. Simply by moving the clay along the throwing arm you can cover a huge area in front of you. With all manual traps, the closer you place the clay to the pivot point the more power will be transferred to the clay and the further distance it will cover. With one decent manual trap you will certainly be able to provide three Guns with plenty of sport.
Bowman SuperTrap 3
This trap comes with a sledge stand and is easy to operate. You simply pull the arm back to cock it, then load your chosen clay into the position you require. To release you simply nudge the throwing arm. The trap has two arms attached and can accommodate a pair of clays and fire them up to 95m as a single standard clay. You can alter the height of the trap by using the proprietary Bowman locking lever. At a mere 13kg including the sledge stand you can manoeuvre the trap with ease. You can also buy an elevating and tilting base if required. All Bowman traps come with a three-year warranty.
Bowman SuperTrap 2000
This is the Formula 1 of the manual trap world. The SuperTrap 2000 can be supplied with Bowman’s stiffest spring, which can throw a standard clay up to 150m — perfect if you are trying to throw a clay from a bank and it is quite a distance to your shooting position. A cocking lever is built into the trap, which makes the cocking process much easier on the arm of the trapper; it is also safer as you will not have the throwing arm of the trap coming back round if it slips out of your hand while attempting to cock it. There is
a catch that you press which releases the clay when you have loaded it on to the arm.
The trap comes on a tripod stand that provides a seat for your trapper to work from. They are manageable for one person to pick up and move around if needed and again provides you with lots of versatility. There are two throwing arms as standard with the SuperTrap 2000 and it can easily punch out some fantastic pairs to shoot at, though as soon as you put two clays on to the arm the distance they will cover will be significantly reduced.
An option that costs about the same as a box of cartridges, and it is a good laugh for about 25 minutes, but in the end I found that I could throw the clay just as far by hand as I can with this contraption.
RRP £1,050 plus VAT
This trap was designed and built by Ferris Whidborne with simulated game days in mind. It is a manually operated but electric-powered trap. If you are looking at buying a trap for entertaining a group of friends standing in a gun line similar to that of a normal driven day, this is the trap for you. It can fire up to four clays a second and fire a clay, arguably, as far as — if not further than — any other trap on the market today. It operates by a throwing arm that is constantly rotating within a housing.
By hand you release the midi clay from the hopper into the centre of the trap, which then spins the clay on the arm for one-and-three-quarter rotations on the arm and releases the clay in the direction that you are pointing the trap. The trap sits on a tripod base and gives you the freedom to point it in any direction you desire. You really can turn the sky black if so desired.
Looking at automatic clay pigeon traps
Automatic clay traps allow you to practise your shooting on your own, but they do tend to be more expensive than manual traps.
Bowman Supermatch One
RRP £747 plus VAT
Weighing just 24kg, this trap can be manoeuvred with ease. A super-fast recocking time of 0.9 seconds will allow you to throw two targets as close to a pair without the need for
a second trap. It comes with two carousels
for midi or standard clays with a capacity of
up to 100. The elevation from the trap allows you to throw a low horizontal bird through to
a springing teal. The Supermatch One can throw a midi up to 90m. Optional extras include a foot release pedal with a 50m cable for £35 plus VAT, and a quad barrow for £180 plus VAT.
An acoustic release that allows you to call “pull” to launch the clay is an extra £210 plus VAT. I would also recommend the oscillating DTL base, at £360 plus VAT, which moves the trap left and right automatically. This can be paired with a remote for £150 plus VAT or you can use the 50m cable that comes as standard. The Supermatch One comes with a three-year warranty.
This trap has been designed with the novice in mind. The main reason that I have included it is its very appealing price for an automatic trap. You can purchase four of these to dot around your land for a nice amount of variation. They have a capacity of 50 clays and throw a clay 65m. They have a recocking time of 1.5 seconds and elevations of 10° to 30°. They come with a 5m foot release pedal that you can extend if required. You can buy the Pigeon key fob for £90, which will control the release of the trap at the press of a button. The Promatic Pigeon comes with a 12-month warranty.
Promatic Super Hawk
RRP £882 plus VAT
Promatic has been producing traps for more than 25 years and is synonymous with clay shooting. It has a huge reputation both in the UK and abroad.
The Super Hawk is designed for the home use market but to replicate traps used at commercial grounds. It comes with a midi and a standard carousel that can hold up to 65 and can throw a midi up to 100m. With a one-second recocking time, a following pair would be an easy task for this trap. A wobble base can be added to the trap and this comes with a trolley. The total price is RRP £1,623. The single-channel radio is an extra £178.50 plus VAT. A 50m cable comes as standard. This trap comes with a three-year warranty.
Laporte 185 6C 350 Pro
RRP £1,649 plus VAT
Laporte started trading in 1927 so is a well-established company that has provided the targets for some of the largest competitions in the world. This trap, albeit slightly more expensive than the others in this round-up, comes with a free pallet of standard clays, hence why it has been included.
It comes with a 50m release cable and can throw a clay up to 115m. It recocks itself in 1.6 seconds and has a capacity of up to 350 clays. This is certainly a step up from the others that I have mentioned, and Bowman and Promatic do similar traps, but I couldn’t write this piece and not include Laporte.
Our expert’s choice of clay target thrower
For price and robustness, I would recommend the Bowman Supermatch One with a DTL base and a remote system. This would cover you for most eventualities and would be the most versatile set-up. However, this is completely dependent on what you want out of your practice at home.
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If you are wanting to practise with a group of friends then a manual trap is likely to be the best and cheapest solution. If the same applies but you are looking to entertain larger groups of friends, the Flurry Launcher will probably be best. There is nothing to say that the Promatic traps wouldn’t do the same job, though.