Skeet shooting is one of the competitive sports in the world of shotgun clay shooting, joining the ranks of sporting clays and trap shooting. There are many different types of skeet shooting – you may encounter the leisure scene, nationally recognized competitions, tournament play or Olympic standing.

The history of skeet shooting begins back in 1915 when a frequent grouse hunter named Charles E. Davies investigated the idea of improving field shooting. While practicing their accuracy with their hunting guns, Davies, along with a few other Andover, Massachusetts residents, began shooting at clay targets. As they repeated this practice ritual, it soon became a competition of sorts, which soon caught on with the rest of the public.

By 1923, the activity progressed to what is viewed or encountered today. While the skeet shooting of current times utilizes clay targets, this was not always the case. Live pigeons were the first targets involved in a round of skeet shooting. In the early stages of the sport, a proper name hadn’t been decided on until a contest was held in 1926. About 10,000 contestants entered for the $100 prize, but it was Gertrude Hurlbutt, who suggested the sport be called “skeet.” She favored the name because it was a Scandinavian translation of the verb, “to shoot.” 

In 1935, skeet shoot lovers got their first taste of the initial National Championship for the sport when it was held in Cleveland, Ohio, followed by annual competitions in Detroit, San Francisco, Indianapolis and Tulsa. The last championship under the original association was held in Syracuse during 1942.

While the sport has significant pleasure and competitive roots, there are also practical associations of importance that skeet shooting provided. During the Second World War, gunners used skeet shooting as a training tool to prepare military gunners. Through practicing the sport, they were able to improve their leading and timing on targets in the air.

Military focus also replaced local gunners as the number one fans of the sport. In this time of war, community interests took a backseat, as America had to reserve gun and ammunition supplies. Gun clubs were temporarily put on hold; many completely evaporated, never to form again.

The National Skeet Shooting Association that still thrives today was reestablished in 1946, producing the National Championship Shoot. Soon, world championships flourished across the United States. The growth of the sport continues, as in 1968, skeet shooting made its first appearance in the Olympic Games.

Today, there are nationally recognized groups for skeet shooting, such as the National Skeet Shooting Association (NSSA) and English Skeet Association. Various rules, target order and speeds are seen throughout these different variations of the sport.

Tags: ,