When I shoot bunker, I always wear my cleats. It keeps me from slipping in my tears. Bunker, the familiar name for Olympic Trap, is one of the toughest clay target games there is. It is as different from typical ATA American-style trap as you can get. Olympic trap is the trap game that the rest of the world shoots. The rest of the world is a lot more masochistic than we are.
Here are some of the differences. In ATA trap the bird goes 50 yards—versus Olympic trap’s 83 yards. That translates to speeds that are 50-percent higher. ATA trap has a maximum lateral angle variation of 35° and is fixed vertically. Bunker has almost three times as much lateral angle, at 90°, and can vary vertically by more than 10°. On the plus side, you are allowed two shots at the Olympic target. In both games you start with a pre-mounted gun.
It’s called bunker because the 15 trap machines are in a covered ground-level trench 15 meters in front of the shooters. There are three fixed traps for each of the five shooting positions. It is computer controlled, so that during the course of the round each shooter gets exactly the same 25 presentations, though not in the same order. This keeps the difficulty exactly the same for everyone.
Although ATA trap is ubiquitous in the US, bunker is far rarer. There are about 30 Olympic trap facilities in the US right now plus another seven in Canada. Here is a list: http://www.losttarget.com/olympicbunker.htm.
I am fortunate to live near a bunker in Gainesville, Florida. I don’t shoot there as often as I should, but it is always a learning experience when I do. Anything over 20x25 is very good indeed. Ninety-five percent would be world class and far above my pay grade.
ATA 16-yard singles trap is a game of consistency and perseverance. The individual shot isn’t all that hard. What makes it a challenge is putting 100 in a row together. Bunker is really different. Every shot is like facing Nolan Ryan’s best fastball. You know what’s coming, but it just overpowers you. ATA trap is a game of cursing misses. Bunker is a game of celebrating hits.
There is some very good information on what skills are required to move from ATA trap to bunker at http://www.deadtargetschool.com/articles.html.
You’ll need a two-shot 12-gauge flat-shooting target gun for bunker. O/Us are universal, with the most popular gun probably being a 30” Perazzi. The guns aren’t as heavy as the ATA guns because they have to move so much faster. The Olympic shot load is 24 grams (just less than 7/8 oz), usually at 1,350 fps. Typical chokes are .025” & .035” (Improved Modified & Full).
For hunters, bunker might emphasize two important shooting techniques. Like all trap games, it teaches you to keep your head on the stock. It also teaches you how to fire two aimed shots in rapid succession at a quickly disappearing target.
If you live near a bunker, you really owe it to yourself to experience this Olympic shotgun game. Don’t expect your ego to prosper, but there is really nothing like double-tapping a blazing-fast, 70-yard, low-left, bug-cutting screamer. It’s an Olympic sport for a reason.
Cleats off. Beer open.