Throughout the late 1800’s shooting live pigeons, released from boxes or, “traps” was an extremely popular sport amongst shooting folk. The use of the live bird for a target was, however, looked upon by many as a barbarous act and was soon outlawed.
For a while the closest thing which matched the live bird was a glass ball filled with feathers. The “trap” was re-designed to throw the glass ball, the shooter taking up his position safely behind the contraption. A man or youth was employed to sit some distance behind the shooter and was responsible for the releasing of the target upon demand; pulling a long piece of rope attached to the traps’ release mechanism, catapulted the ball forward out of the trap. The youth was called a, “puller” and the command used by the shooter to call for his target, “PULL”!
With broken glass littered about the place a replacement for the glass ball was soon developed. This took the form of a 4″ disc made from a mixture of pitch and lime. The traps were again re-designed to throw the target which flew faster and on a much truer flight and leaving little in the way of litter were pronounced a huge success. The little clay disc was christened; “Clay Pigeon” and its immediate popularity meant the future of “inanimate bird shooting” was assured.
Today the “clays” are called, “clay targets”, the machines that propel them, are still referred to as “traps” and very sophisticated, radio controlled automatic traps dominate.
It is doubtful however that manually operated traps will ever become obsolete, an experienced operator with deft skill can really replicate the real thing; he bears a somewhat more modern day title to that of the old, “puller”, he is called quite simply, “trapper”! But still, he will only release the target upon the traditional call of, “PULL”!