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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 89.djvu/545

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Popular Science Monthly

��531

��feet as we crossed the line between him and the little house there came a queer rattling of hidden machiner>\ This was the "puller," and with the lever he set and sprung a throwing-machine out in the little house, like the old time instruments of war with which the ancients used to throw rocks, fireballs and other pleasantries into the cities of the other fellows.

In the little house when the squad had finished shooting, we found the machine, the trap as it is called, merely an in- clined steel plate with a throwing-arm faced with rubber and impelled by a powerful, coiled spring. Inside the house sat another boy, the trapper. He set a little clay saucer, bottom-side up on the steel plate; the puller gave the lever a little twitch, releasing the trigger holding the arm, and it swept swiftly across the plate, hurling the saucer out ahead of it and giving it a rapid whirling motion as it flew. Then with the lever and a long rod reaching to the traphouse, the puller hauled the steel arm back to the set position, and the trapper placed another "bird" in position to be thrown.

Another form of trap holds the bird in a pair of steel fingers at the end of the throwing-arm, and this is almost human in its resemblance to the pair of fingers and the arm of the small boy, with which he takes the flat bit of slate and "sails" it edgewise through the air.

The saucer, or "clay bird," is made of river silt and tar — just plain mud, as a matter of fact, baked after being formed into moulds. It is four and one-quarter

��inches across, and about an inch from bottom to rim. The rim is very heavy, to stand the strain of trapping; the top very thin and light. The whole "bird" is quite brittle, and usually departs this life when hit by even a single tiny pellet of No. 8 or 73-^ shot.

The Rules tlmt Govern Trapshooting

The rules of the game are that the shooters, five of them to the squad, shall stand normally sixteen yards back of the throwing arm of the trap, and three yards from one another, as marked by the row of little pegs set at the sixteen- yard mark from the house. The birds thrown from the trap shall fly at un- known angles; that is, the shooter does not know in which direction the bird will fly from the trap, which is changed in direction by the trapper in the house. But the limits of the flight are also fixed by the rules, which are that the trap shall not throw its birds higher than twelve feet nor lower than sijf feet at a point thirty- feet in front of the little house, nor at angles greater than forty- five degrees to the right or left of the straight line from the puller down through the house and out along the grounds.

Save in a wind, the birds from a certain trap fly at the same height from shot to shot, the elevation not being changed; but they change their direction each shot. Because the shooters stand nine feet apart, and the first and last man in the line are therefore eighteen feet to the right and left of the center of the trap,

���The scorer. A black "I" mark means broken or killed birds. To score the bird "dead," the shooter must break off a perceptible piece. A puif of dust will not do

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