REWIND: Colonel Smoothbore with “If It Weren’t for Chickens, We Would be Shooting Around the Clock!”
By angelamontana

Posted: June 14, 2020

Back in 2013, Colonel Smoothbore referred to the history study of the clay target sports…focusing on the skeet game.  Here’s a rewind:

Continuing with our history study of the clay target sports, let’s turn our attention to the Skeet game. Compared to trap, skeet is a relative newcomer to the target sports.

Skeet was first conceived around 1915 by Charles Davies of Massachusetts and was devised to offer targets that resemble real birds in flight. Much like a clock, the game originally had 12 shooting positions laid out in a circle with the manual trap at the 12 o’clock position. The circle had a 25 yard radius and the game was originally called “Shooting around the clock.” After complaints from a neighbor in the chicken business whose hen houses were in the line of fire, Davies reduced the field to a half circle with a trap at each end and a 20 yard radius. Davies also changed the station designations from 1 to 7. That basic configuration is still used today with the addition of an eighth station.


Originally both traps in the new game were at ground level, but Davies soon realized that he needed to elevate one of them. He placed a trap in an elm tree about 15 feet off the ground; thus, the “high house” was born. Davies also added 4 sets of “doubles” to the game.


In an attempt to increase the popularity of the new skeet game, a set of rules was established and the National Sportsman and Hunting and Fishing magazine offered a $100.00 prize to someone who could come up with new name for the “Shooting around the clock” game. Mrs. Gertrude Hurlbutt of Dayton, Montana won the contest. Her winning entry “Skeet” had its origins in the Scandinavian word meaning “shoot.” One might say, “let’s go shoot skeet” and in fact you might be saying, “let’s go shoot shoot.” I’ve heard more than one skeet shooter, after missing a low 7, say more than “shoot skeet”- it’s usually “shoot SOMETHING ELSE.”


The skeet game quickly grew very popular in the US. Over the years, several changes have been made to the layout of the skeet field. These changes altered the target angles of flight and permitted more fields to be placed adjacent to each other.


Be safe and good shooting.

Colonel Smoothbore

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