In 1966 two shooting enthusiasts, Barry Davidson and George Thorpe came together to start Bowman Traps. Barry and George were extremely talented engineers who both shared a passion for shooting sports. As you can see the business name Bowman didn’t derive from the business partners, it was actually acquired with the purchase of the premises. Bowman had originally been the village wheelwright; making carts and coffins for the surrounding area.
Barry and George extended the existing small workshop and for the first couple of years made only manual clay pigeon traps. After this time it was decided Bowmans would also start producing clay pigeon targets.
Barry and George built their own machines to produce the clays, giving them an advantage over the rest of the market. The Bowman clays were renowned for their true flight. This was mainly due to the introduction of the new innovative “Sure-Grip” milled driving band and the aerodynamic contour of the dome.
When the clay target production started, the factory at East Markham was divided into two halves; one half making the traps and the other half making the clays. As the business grew, it was decided that clay production should be moved to a purpose built factory in Retford. In the early 1970s the factory in East Markham went back to producing traps only.
Bowman manual traps could be found at all the large shooting grounds in the UK. In addition to the UK market, thousands were exported all over the world. The range of traps at this time included the Markham’s, the Majors and of course the world famous Pedal Trap. Bowman were also busy producing the Top Speed Reloader.
In 1980 Barry’s son, Andrew, left school and officially started working for Bowmans; Andrew had lived next door to the factory for most of his life and spent a lot of his school holidays working with and learning from his Dad.
The early Bowman traps used cast iron castings purchased from the foundries in Sheffield. In the 1980s Bowman started to develop it’s own aluminium casting process. The new aluminium castings led to a new range of manual traps called the Super Trap range. These traps were very popular and known for their strength and reliability. There are manual traps at homes and shooting grounds all over the world, which date back to the company’s early years. Some of these traps are still in use today which goes to show the quality of craftmanship Bowmans produce.
In 1984 Bowmans had a demerger. George produced the clays and Barry continued with trap production at East Markham under the new company name of W J Bowman (1984) Ltd. Through the late 80s and early 90s Bowman continued to manufacture manual traps.
In 1997 Barry sadly passed away and Andrew took over the helm at Bowmans.
In 1998 Andrew was invited by Dougie, from The Oxford Gun Company to exhibit with him at The Game Fair. As well as selling traps at the Fairs, Andrew was able to get feedback from our customers and on the back of this designed the Super Trap 2000 to replace the Pedal Trap. The Super Trap is still being produced today and is widely recognized as the Rolls Royce of manual traps with its arm lever that supports easy loading it is hugely popular for simulated game.
Andrew realised that Bowman needed to move towards automatic traps, in 2000 he went back to the drawing board and started to design what is now known as the Supermatch range of automatic clay pigeon traps.
The first out of the stable was the Supermatch Eight which was launched at the 2000 Game Fair. This was closely followed by the Supermatch Six and One.
Over the last 20 years our range of automatic traps has grown to cover all clay shooting disciplines from home use, to Olympic disciplines and everything in-between.
In 2014 we launched our Multi-Clay range which has subsequently gone from strength to strength. We are particularly pleased to introduce this range because producing traps that provide great versatility and value for money is a passion of ours and has been proven to enhance the shooting experience.
The Supermatch range has built a good reputation amongst the shooting community and is known for being robust, versatile, simple to operate and reliable. Andrew and our team of engineers continually fine tune our designs, striving to improve our traps. We aim to maintain our reputation and are extremely proud that our entire range has been designed and produced in Great Britain. Our ethos has stood us in good stead for the last fifty plus years and we are sure it will carry us forward to the next.