Skeet is a recreational and competitive activity where participants attempt to break clay disks flung into the air at high speed from a variety of angles. For the American version of the game, the clay discs are 4 5/16 inches (109.54mm) in diameter, 1 1/8 inches (28.57mm) thick, and fly a distance of 60 yards (+/- 2 yards). The international version of skeet uses a target that is slightly larger in diameter (110mm vs 109.54mm), thinner in cross section (25mm vs. 28.57mm), and has a thicker dome center, making it harder to break. International targets are also thrown a longer distance from similar heights (over 70 yards), resulting in a faster target speed.
The firearm of choice for this task is usually a high-quality, double-barreled over and under shotgun with 28/30 inch barrels and open chokes. Often, shooters will choose an improved cylinder choke (one with a tighter pattern) or a skeet choke (one with a wider pattern), but this is a matter of preference. Some gun shops refer to this type of shotgun as a skeet gun. Alternatively a sporting gun or a trap gun is sometimes used. These have longer barrels (up to 34 inch) and tighter choke. Many shooters of American skeet and other national versions still use inexpensive semi-auto and pump action shotguns with great success. The use of clay targets replaced the more traditional target of live birds, as a cheaper, more humane and more reliable alternative, one reason they are also called clay pigeons.
The event is in part meant to simulate the action of bird hunting. The shooter shoots from eight positions on a semicircle with a radius of 21 yards (19 m), and an 8th position halfway between stations 1 and 7. There are two houses that hold devices known as "traps" that launch the targets, one at each corner of the semicircle. The traps launch the targets to a point 15 feet above ground and 18 feet outside of station 8. One trap launches targets from 10 feet above the ground ("high" house) and the other launches it from 3 feet above ground ("low" house). At stations 1 and 2 the shooter shoots at single targets launched from the high house and then the low house, then shoots a double where the two targets are launched simultaneously but shooting the high house target first. At stations 3, 4, and 5 the shooter shoots at single targets launched from the high house and then the low house. At stations 6 and 7 the shooter shoots at single targets launched from the high house and then the low house, then shoots a double, shooting the low house target first then the high house target. At station 8 the shooter shoots one high target and one low target. The shooter must re-shoot his first missed target, or if no targets are missed, must shoot his 25th shell at the low house station 8. This 25th shot was once referred to as the shooter's option, as he was able to take it where he preferred. Now, to speed up rounds in competition, the shooter must shoot the low 8 twice for a perfect score.