Trapshooting dates way back, the first recordings were made prior to 1800 in England. Initially, live pigeons were “trapped” under hats connected to wires. Upon the shooter's call, the “puller” would release the bird from the hat by pulling on the wire.
Later on, in the mid 1800s, glass balls replaced the live pigeons and, while their trajectory was often irregular and some would not break at all, they became the first non-live targets to be used.
In the late 1800s, the first “clay” targets were manufactured out of limestone powder and petroleum pitch, similar to the modern ones we shoot today.
To conserve the environment, these days more and more clubs are throwing targets that are made out of biodegradable material and are non toxic to live stock.
Significant progress has been made as well as far as the target launching machines are concerned.
The original ones were manually operated and the shooters had to call for the targets loud enough for the “trappers” to hear. Later on, the machines would allow a “puller” to release the targets on shooters call while setting the targets being still a manual exercise done by the trapper.
Today’s modern trap machines are fully automatic: the targets are set by an automated arm for both singles and doubles, the mechanism is hydraulic and wireless (or wired) voice-activated releases launch the targets with no perceived delay.