Club Safety Regulations

Clay Target Shooting is a very popular sport and enjoys a visual attraction which rivals many other sports.  Whilst Clay Target Shooting has an enviable safety record, this is due to a stringent set of safety rules and continued reinforcement of those rules. Everyone involved in the sport has a duty to treat shotguns and clay target throwing equipment (traps) with the respect due to any potentially lethal or dangerous equipment. The purpose of this booklet is to advise our clubs and to highlight known possible hazardous conditions.  However, there will be occasions where a person’s own good sense will determine the need for some extra safety requirement – shoot organisers should implement such measures before allowing shooting to start or even interrupt shooting under way immediately there is a need for action.


Eyesight is precious.  Particles of cartridge components or pieces of broken clay could easily damage an eye.  The CTSASA recommends the wearing of shatter-proof glasses when shooting.  Various disciplines stipulate glasses must be worn at all times - please adhere to these rules.


Hearing loss can occur naturally as one grows older and cannot be avoided but noise induced hearing loss will rapidly compound this loss if one is subjected to loud noises over a period of time.  Such loss is permanent and cannot be rectified.  Competitors and trappers must wear suitable hearing protection (ordinary cotton wool is virtually useless).  The best protection is ear muffs which surround the whole ear (they prevent damaging sound from entering the back of the ear).  Hearing protection is compulsory. It is a good idea to remind all those present by displaying the approved signs.


It is a requirement of affiliation that Clubs or grounds meet the CTSASA’s safety standards.


All clay shooting safety is really common sense.  All shooters are their own Safety Officer.


Safety Distance
Although most shot (12g. 28gm. No 6,7,8 & 9) in calm conditions falls at about 180 yards from the firing point, following wind and “best angle” can increase this distance.  The CTSASA therefore follows the declared minimum safety distance of 300 yards in every direction in which shooting takes place.  (See Figs 1 & 2)

figure 1

figure 2

Extra care must be taken to ensure that no accident occurs, due to shot or clay debris fall out on nearby footpaths, bridleways or public highways.

Firing Points
Firing points at the more formal disciplines (D.T.L., Skeet, etc.) are probably already safe if the installation is permanent or has been used for some time, in such cases there is usually no need for concern, (but if in doubt check) and even here there is a necessity for keeping the firing point surfaces and approaches in good repair, so that nobody trips or slips.

At Sporting, Pool Shoots, practice or temporary stands, firing points must be placed with great care.
There is the obvious minimum safety distance requirement of course but thought should also be given to the left handed shooter, the fast shot, the very slow shot, the junior shot and the complete novice.  Considering each of these carefully sometimes alters the competitors viewing area and safety requirements quite significantly. (Obvious too, is the necessity to cater for all these types of shooters when considering trapper protection).
Where any problem exists, in any of the foregoing, give serious consideration to the open cage for the competitors (Fig. 3) which effectively prevents shooting in unwanted directions.  If a restraining bar across the front of the cage is required to ensure that a shooter stays within bounds, such bar should not be above knee height.  This will allow guns to be lowered quickly to a safe position without hindrance.

figure 3

The firing points for the less formal types of shooting should be about 1m (1yard) square (but see relevant discipline rules) reasonably firm and flat and should clearly designate the area in which the shooter must stand and never so close to the traps that any of the trappers are placed in any danger.

Trap house Construction
Any part of a trap house, including a temporary trapping position, in danger of receiving a misdirected shot must be of sufficiently sound construction to easily withstand a full shotgun charge without any possibility of danger to any person.

Bear in mind that trapper protection which is suitable and safe at, say, 20 yards from the firing point (when the pellet load has started to spread) may at shorter distances be almost useless.  A shotgun cartridge load at very short ranges is to all intents and purposes a solid lead projectile weighing in excess of 28 grams (1 ounce) and travelling at a speed of over 300 metres per second (1000 feet per second) and is often capable of passing through all but the most solid of barriers as if it didn’t exist.

If an “easy” short range stand is required than make absolutely sure that the trapper protection is sufficiently strong, or better still place the trap alongside the shooter out of the line of fire.  If there is any doubt at all about the safety, then safely test fire at any proposed temporary protection from the actual firing point, once again making certain that there is no possible danger to any person.

A Special Note for Skeet
Protective chutes should be placed over the trap openings of sufficient size and strength to protect trappers working inside both the high and low houses from     a stray shot.  No chute is probably necessary on the high house if fully automatic traps are used but one must be fitted on the low house to protect a shooter on station 7 from injury due to a broken emerging target.  Shooters on this station should be aware that pieces of broken clay from the high house target very often land in this vicinity.


A shotgun (in Law) is defined as a smooth bored gun with a barrel length in excess of 24”.  The shotgun generally is a weapon designed specifically for killing.  Shotguns used for breaking clay targets have this same capability and therefore must be treated with the same care, caution and respect.  A shotgun for clay target shooting must have a barrel length of 26” or more.  Maximum bore is 12 gauge.

Remember: any bird, animal or person coming into line within the lethal range of any discharged shotgun - accidentally or on purpose - will be killed or maimed.  The normal 12 bore cartridge at close quarters can blast a human being into oblivion - bloodily, messily and extremely rapidly.  The CTSASA rules for all the disciplines are explicit in requiring that all shotguns be open and empty except when the competitor is on the shooting stand and the Referee has given permission for shooting to commence.


  • Guns when carried must be open and empty.
  • Over & Under and side-by-side shotguns should be “broken”, i.e. open.
  • Semi-automatics and pump models must be open at the breech (with the breech facing forward) and the muzzle pointing straight up in the air.
  • Do not carry your shotgun over your shoulder with the barrels pointing backwards - people standing behind you will not like having two barrels pointed at them.
  • It is a good idea at sporting events to carry your gun in a gun slip from stand to stand.  It’s easy, convenient and safe.
  • Other guns must not be touched without the owner’s permission.
  • It is also vital that the correct behaviour required is given in instruction and training so that safety becomes instinctive and habitual.  Treat all guns as if they are loaded.
  • Remember:  “Guns don’t kill people - people kill people”


  • Whether empty or loaded keep the shotgun pointing down range
  • When you are ready to call for the target, address the target in the correct manner
  • After firing, DO NOT twist the shotgun over to eject the cartridges directly into the basket/bin (this action points the barrels at the shooters behind you)
  • After firing, empty your shotgun keeping the barrels pointing downwards
  • After completing the stand, do not turn around until you have emptied your shotgun of all cartridges, live or spent.


CTSASA rules require that no more than 2 cartridges shall be loaded at any one time (refers to Pump Action and Semi-Automatic Shotguns).  For Novices - do not allow more than one cartridge at any one time until the novice demonstrates good knowledge of safety.

i)    guns shall be emptied of any cartridge or cartridge case(s) before turning from or leaving the firing point
ii)    in the event of a Misfire or Malfunction the gun shall be handed safely to the Referee for inspection.
iii)    cartridge loads must not exceed 12 gauge and must comply with the relevant discipline rule.

Any lapses in safety conduct should result in the offenders immediately being reminded emphatically and publicly.  Repeat offenders should be immediately expelled from the shooting ground.


These are permitted for local events but not for events which are designated as “International” (e.g. African Grand, FITASC Pan African Sporting etc).  All international rules forbid reloaded cartridges.  However, it is recognised that many members make considerable savings by reloading their own cartridges.

Anyone using reloaded ammunition must comply with the international specifications for shot loads and must ensure that their ammunition is reloaded in accordance with safety standards.  For further information please contact the CTSASA Executive Officer or visit


Instructions to Trappers
Trappers must be fully briefed and understand the inherent dangers of traps and trapping:

  • they must be instructed and made aware of the ‘safe’ and ‘danger’ sides of the type of trap being used.
  • (Note : Some traps throw on the opposite side to which they are cocked.  Some throw on the same side).
  • they must be briefed as to the necessity of leaving a trap safe when unattended and made aware of the consequences of not doing so.  (Never leave a trap cocked or with a clay on the trap arm).
  • they must be shown the correct positioning of the clay target(s) on the arm and shown the safe side of the trap on which clays can be stacked.
  • trappers should be aware of the intended flight paths of the clays and shown the remedial action required if the flight paths alter due to extreme conditions etc.
  • finally, and most importantly, every trapper must be told that whatever the reason he must not leave the trap until collected.  In the event of a trap breakdown he should safely raise the red flag provided for this purpose and remain with the trap until collected. (The “STAY PUT” Rule).

Organiser’s Responsibilities to Trappers

  • The shoot organiser should provide adequate hearing protection and any protective clothing necessary to the trappers, such as gloves, goggles and helmet where necessary.  Trappers should be instructed to wear all such protective equipment whilst shooting is in progress.
  • Sufficient clays should be stacked next to the trap to last the duration of the competition.
  • Trappers must be fully protected from shot and clay debris.  Remember out of sight is not necessarily out of shot.
  • Employed trappers should be a minimum of 16 years of age.
  • The equipment provided must be in a proper working condition and safe to use.
  • All trappers must be properly instructed as to correct and safe trapping procedures and should be made aware of the inherent dangers in failing to rigidly comply with these.
  • Only one trapper per trap should be permitted at any trapping position.

It follows that the traphouse must be large enough to comfortably house the trap, clays and trapper and that the trap house or stand shall be fully protected from a full accidental discharge of shot or clay debris. The trap house should be adequately lit for trappers to operate in safety.  The use of straw bales alone for the construction of trapper protection is insufficient and unsafe.  It is recommended that a ‘sandwich’ of steel sheeting and straw bales be used instead (see Fig. 4) or a framed cladding of sound corrugated sheet steel.  If in doubt double the cladding.

figure 4

Where the protective wall is lower than about 6 feet it is recommended that some sort of roof be placed over the head of the trapper so that he cannot stand up into danger.

Always remind trappers (even experienced trappers) of the safety rules before the start of any shoot.


Shooters have an obvious safety responsibility and the shoot organisers should reprimand, in no uncertain terms if necessary, those competitors who behave in an unsafe manner.  Any person repeatedly behaving in an unsafe manner should immediately expel such person.  Organisers of events have the power to refuse entry to those who behave in an unsafe manner.


Novices, those who have not used a shotgun before or where experience is so limited that their competence in handling a shotgun is in question, require special attention with particular emphasis on safety in all aspects of gun handling.

A notice should be displayed requiring novices to announce this fact at entry.  The Club Safety Officer or any club official or member should advise the shoot management where it is obvious that a visitor appears unsure in gun handling.

It is recommended that a ‘learner’ trap be set up for initial instruction and when the novice is considered safe and competent only then to be allowed access to other stands under the supervision of an experienced shooter who shall remain with the novice throughout.  It is advisable that only one instructor per pupil at any one time is used, differing (even though well intentioned) advice is confusing and complicated.


  • shot or clay fallout should not land on any public footpath or right of way
  • shoot organisers must not leave equipment in a condition likely to cause injury to the public (even trespassing public!) such as a cocked trap
  • display warning notices where there is a need and if you foresee any danger cordon off areas as necessary
  • insure against accidents (see section below)


Referees and Button Pressers
It must be understood that no club or ground can operate effectively without full co-operation from efficient Referees and Button Pressers.  It is therefore important that organisers should understand the problems of these officials.  The following are extracts from various clay shooting rule books:

  • Clay shooting of whatever discipline shall be conducted by a Referee with wide experience of clay target shooting and a sound knowledge of shotguns.
  • He must be fully conversant with the rules for Range Control and competent to be certain these rules are observed.
  • A rule book should be made available for the type of shooting taking place. These will contain the rules for Range Control and can be obtained from the CTSASA.
  • The Referee should have the rule relevant to his particular discipline in his possession when performing his duties.
  • Before the start of a shoot he will check that traps are in order, throwing the correct targets and manned by fully briefed and competent trappers.
  • Remote release of clay targets: This can be done acoustically or by pressing a button. There are different types of buttons, some need holding down until the clay appears as is usual in ISU Skeet, some need immediate release after pressing as in D.T.L. and A.B.T. The Referee or Button Presser should know how to correctly handle the buttons.
  • When, and only when, the Referee is satisfied that it is safe to shoot will he give the order to the shooter or squad to load and commence shooting.
  • During the progress of a shoot he will exercise complete control over all competitors, calling his decisions clearly and quickly.  In the event of any interruptions in the shooting he will ascertain that any instructions of his regarding the unloading or loading of guns is observed immediately.
  • At the end of a shoot he will again instruct competitors to empty their guns before turning to leave firing points. Finally he will instruct trappers to uncock their traps and stand down.
  • At all times the Referee should liaise completely with the Safety Officer, suspending any person deemed guilty of unsafe conduct and reporting the incident at once to the Safety Officer.


Very importantly, organisers of all clay shooting events, even the most informal, are strongly advised to take out a minimum of Third Party Liability insurance cover of at least two million Rands for any single accident. All current CTSASA members are automatically covered for two and a half million Rands as part of their association subscription. Employers’ Liability is a legal requirement where any form of paid labour is involved.  The most common form of this is undoubtedly that of trappers but any form of labour requires the insurance cover.


  • Is adequate protection of trappers provided?
  • Is there provision of protective clothing, head gear, waterproofs and ear protection?
  • Are trap houses kept in a clean condition?
  • Are red flags provided?
  • Can the shooter see the trapper?
  • Is the direction of clays safely sited?
  • Is there a large enough fall-out area for clays or fragments, to eliminate any possibility of danger to individuals in the vicinity?
  • Are there any footpaths, within fall-out distance?
  • Are the shot sizes of cartridges kept to the official limit?



Priorities :

    • Remove further danger
    • Check breathing
    • Control serious bleeding
    • Immobilise broken bones
    • Treat for shock
  • Remove patient from any further danger if possible or remove the danger (e.g. gun still loaded). Do not treat patient whilst in danger yourself.
  • If not breathing administer mouth to mouth resuscitation and/or closed chest cardiac massage.
  • Control bleeding by raising limb and place direct pressure on the wound.  If the bleeding continues do not remove the dressing, place further dressings on top of the first.  Use sterile dressings if available.
  • Broken bones should be immobilised where possible.
  • Shock is a killer.  It is caused by displacement of body fluid, i.e. blood/vomit.  Lie the patient down on a blanket, keep warm if necessary.  Raise head and feet slightly.  Loosen tight clothing. Do not administer any liquids.  Reassure patient.

Eye Injuries (Broken Clays)
If a foreign body is on the white part of the eye remove with a soft cloth or cotton bud.  If the foreign body still remains, cover loosely with a soft pad and take the patient to hospital.

Procedure in case of accident.

  • Check for further damage.
  • Send for Ambulance and Police. Give information: number of patients, possible injuries and exact location of accident.  Ask how long they will be.
  • Reassure patient at all times.
  • Despatch to hospital in Ambulance

First Aid Kit – The following is recommended for most Clubs:

  • 4 Triangular Bandages
  • 4 Large Sterile Dressings
  • 6 Medium Sterling Dressings
  • 6 Small Sterile Dressings
  • 2 Sterile Eye Pads
  • Cotton Wool
  • Cotton Buds
  • 1 Packet Sterile Lint
  • 1 Packet Assorted Plasters
  • Safety Pins
  • Pencil and Notepaper
  • T.C.P. or Dettol

Every Club is strongly recommended to have a group of members (one of whom should be present at all events) who are trained in basic First Aid (your local St John Ambulance can advise on this).


This is not an exhaustive list of safety rules.  Any omission from this list does not imply acceptability.

Contact Details:
Sarah Kalell, Executive Officer
The Clay Target Shooting Association of South Africa
PO Box 812
Great Brak River

Tel: 086 111 4581
Fax: 086 684 1973