Derek Partridge on ATA vs. Bunker

Some 25 years ago, in one of my many articles for Gun World—on ATA vs Bunker—I wrote: "If four 10 year-olds can break 100/100 and two 14 year-olds can break 200/200 at 16 yard singles. . . what is the challenge to a man?" The question received no answers and did not make me any friends! I have no doubt it will not make me any friends now! But, I am trying to literally "provoke" ATA shooters into taking up what really is a challenge—to any man or woman—Bunker shooting, known around the world as Olympic Trap, Olympic Trench or International Trap.

Please take a moment to consider the facts: to exemplify why I consider 16-yard ATA too simple, here are the results from one event at the Grand: after Winner and Runner-Up, there were 12 categories, each with a winner and runner-up: AAA, AA, A, B, C, D, Super Veteran, Veteran, Sub-Junior, Junior, Lady and Wheelchair. Every single one of the 26 winners and runners-up scored 100/100! If every single class is won with a perfect score… what is the point of having classes? To further illustrate my point: I know a retired Police Colonel, a gentleman of impeccable integrity; when he was first introduced to 16-yard ATA, the trap shooters told him he had to have full choke and #7.5 shot. He only had a skeet choke and #9s… but he broke 25 straight in his first round. . . nuff said!

Also at the Grand—and other major US shoots—as many as 50 to 75 shooters break 200/200 at 16 yard singles. They then embark on miss-and-out shoot-offs, when it can take another 300-500 targets to produce an exhausted winner! This means that the first of 75 shooters who misses, must answer this question: Wife: "How did you do?" Husband: "I broke 200/200!" Wife (delightedly): "So, you won?!" Husband (dejectedly): "No... I came 75th".

What other sport in the world (other than American Skeet) can a competitor attain a perfect score... but be placed 75th?! By contrast, in the past 100 years of Olympic Trap shooting around the entire world and using two shots, 200/200 has been achieved only six times. Shoot-offs at bunker (single barrel) rarely exceed a few targets and virtually never even last one full round. Based on this, perhaps you will understand why I consider 16-yard singles to be just a bit too easy! And that’s why I am hoping this might provoke some of you to come and try your hand at bunker! You will find friendly shooters, more than willing to do whatever they can to help introduce you to the challenging—but deeply satisfying—sport of bunker shooting. 

 Here’s another principal difference between ATA and bunker that not many people realize: the average experienced bunker shooter will fire his two shots in slightly less time than his average, experienced 16-yard counterpart will have fired his single shot. . . that's how fast bunker targets are and the reaction time required to hit them before they land, some 83 yards from the trap! They are also smaller and harder than ATA targets. 

Derek's background: I had won some county (state) and area championships at DTL (Down-the-Line), the English equivalent of 16-yard ATA, before I shot in my first Olympic Trench event, the 1958 Grand Prix of Paris, where I scored a dismal 59/100 and only two shooters were below me! I vowed never to shoot DTL/ATA again--after fulfilling my first ambition--to get into the England DTL Team, which I did, placing 4th among the 30-member English Team in the match between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. After that, I only shot Bunker and, in 1972 returned to Paris, when I won the Grand Prix, reversing my initial 59/100 to 95/100… I felt I had "graduated"! I became a member of three British Teams: International Trap (bunker), FITASC Universal Trench and ISSF Automatic Trap (wobble trap) at which I shot the first 100/100 and set a (then) world record of 193/200 at the 1973 Nordic Championships in Denmark. I was the founder and first Chairman of the British International Board (today’s British International Clay Target Shooting Federation), Vice Chairman and a Life Vice President of the English Clay Pigeon Shooting Association. I’ve coached shooters and instructors in several countries and written over 100 articles in English, American and European shooting magazines.