Skeet shooting is carried out on a semi-circular ‘playing field’ of radius twenty-one yards, with shooting points known as ‘stations’ marked along the arc of the semi-circle. The center of the circle is known as the crossing point and is marked by a stake. There are two skeet houses fixed at opposite sides of a ‘base-chord’ of 120 feet, 9 inches apart drawn six yards from the center of the circle (where the stake is). This is more easily shown in the diagram below. You will note there are a total of seven stations along the arc, with an eighth station located between the two houses. These houses each contain a skeet trap which fires skeet (clay targets) at a set angle towards the crossing point.

Skeet Field Layout

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(If you want the full indepth detail on layout of a skeet field then you can download the official rules and regulations for skeet as presented by the NSSA.)

Station 1 is located on the left-hand side of the skeet field in front of the High-House, station 2 through to station 6 are located evenly along the arc of the semi-circle until we get to station 7 which is located on the right-hand side of the skeet field in front of the Low-House. Station 8 is centered between the two houses.

Each round of skeet will usually involve a squad of five shooters. A round of skeet for each competitor comprises a total of twenty-five shots (it’s no surprise that this is the same quantity of shells in a box of ammunition). Points are scored for hitting each target. The round starts with the first squad member at station 1. A single target is launched from the high-house followed by a single target from the low house. The shooter then reloads and shoots doubles from the station – high-house (nearest) followed by low-house. The second shooter then takes up position at station 1 and follows the same procedure. This repeats until all members of the squad have shot station 1.

The squad then move to station 2 where the same sequence of shots is followed before moving on to station 3. At station 3 only a single shot at the high-house followed by another single shot at the low-house target are taken. This is then repeated at station 4 and station 5. At station 6, a single shot is taken at the high-house target followed by a single shot at the low-house target but this time it is followed by a double shooting at the low-house (nearest) target first followed by the high-house target second. At station 7, the same sequence as that at station 6 is repeated.

At station 8, each shooter in turn takes a single shot at a target from the high-house before anyone takes a shot at the low-house. Once each shooter has taken a single shot at the high-house target, the first shooter will then take a single shot at the low-house, at this point that first shooter has taken a total of 24 shots at targets around the skeet field – before leaving the skeet field the first shooter takes another shot (known as the optional shot) at the low-house again for a total of 25 shots.

The optional shot in skeet shooting is normally taken as the last shot in the round provided that all of the first 24 targets up to this point have been hit (dead targets). If however, the shooter misses a target at any point prior to this, then they must take their optional shot as a repeat of the first target they missed. It will be the same target repeated from the same house.

You can use any shotgun for skeet shooting that fires two rounds (shots / shells). This is essential as there are four sets of doubles in each round. The shotgun can be either a double-barrell over-and-under, or side-by-side, it can be a semi-automatic or even a pump-action. The ammunition for skeet is typically size#9 shells but avoid anything larger than #7.5 (note: the higher the number the smaller the pellet size, the greater the number of pellets and the greater the spread).

If you are new to skeet shooting, it may be helpful to go along to the range with a buddy who can give you some advice and perhaps follow you through a complete round. You may want to go for some professional shooting instructions on the range instead – this can be very helpful particularly if you can’t buddy up with someone else.

You will obviously need various skeet shooting accessories with you including your shotgun, shells, and both ear and eye protection. Many ranges will allow you to hire guns out particularly if they also offer professional instruction in the sport but check in advance. One final unwritten rule is to enjoy yourself and have fun with the sport.