Trapshooting is bad for the environment – here is our problem solution…

The paper refers to problem solving using creative thinking tool 40 Inventive principles.

Trapshooting or clay-pigeon shooting invented in England at the end of the 18th century. The drive of the game was to improve hunters shooting skills.

Nowadays trapshooting is a very popular sport with world championships and Olympic events.

How does trapshooting work? Targets are launched into the air with a special machine at varying angles and speeds initially unknown to the shooter. The shooter fires at the targets with a shotgun and the score depends on hit count given specific rules. We are not going to dig into the rules as it is irrelevant for the matter of this article. What is relevant, however, is that the splinters of the targets and full targets are falling on the ground and pollute the environment.

Overall, the targets are discs of about 11 cm in diameter and about 3 cm thickness. The discs’ weight is about 100 grams. Clay or limestone are typical materials for the targets.

Hence, as a result of the shooting, a huge amount of pieces and full targets fall down on the field. The splinters and full targets should be cleaned up, otherwise, the field will quickly become a garbage dump. What is the solution to this problem?

In this article, we are proposing 4 different solutions for an innovative method to clean up the clay debris and explain how we used PRIZ Innovation Platform to assist us with the decisions.

Let’s dive directly into our example and show in detail the entire process of problem solving.

Case Study

As in any other case with PRIZ Innovation Platform, this scenario needs a dedicated project.
We called our project: Clay targets’ splinters

After filling in the project details we got to the Creative Thinking Tools page that are dedicated to the problem-solution process. In this case, we decided to use one of the Creative Thinking Tools provided in the platform call 40 Inventive Principles.
Here is the outcome:

#1. Best Known Solution

Before we can properly define an engineering contradiction, we must choose the best-known solution. Our choice was:
Use some special technique to collect the clay target debris from the field

#2. Engineering Contradiction

This step is crucial in searching for the problem solution. The contradiction is a logical sentence containing “IF”, “THEN” and “BUT”.

The contradiction we created in this case is:

IF all splinters will be collected with a special technique,
THEN the field will be clean,
BUT the process will destroy the soil and will affect the environment

#3. Choosing Improving Parameter

The specific improving parameter is:
“Clean the field after the shooting”.

The generic parameter we choose out of 39 available parameters is:
“Shape” – the shape of the field will functionally remain the same.

#4. Choosing a Worsening Parameter

The specific worsening parameter is:
“Affected soil and changed the flora of this area”.

The general worsening parameter we choose is:
“Quantity of substance” – less fertile soil will remain after the cleaning with the technique.

#5. Getting relevant Inventive Principles.

Based on generic improving and worsening parameters the system made the suggestion according to Altshuller Matrix. Certain principles are chosen because problems similar to our problem have already been solved based on the chosen principles.

Let’s start to analyze problem solving.

Indeed, there were two Inventive Principles matching our case:

First: #36 – Phase transition:
Second: #22 – Blessing in disguise (Turn Lemons into Lemonade)

Inventive Principle #36 – Phase Transition

Use phenomena occurring during phase transitions (e.g. volume changes, loss or absorption of heat, etc.). 

Some examples:

  • Water expands when frozen, unlike most other liquids. Hannibal is reputed to have used this when marching on Rome a few thousand years ago. Large rocks blocked passages in the Alps. He poured water on them at night. The overnight cold froze the water, and the expansion split the rocks into small pieces which could be pushed aside. 
  • Heat pumps use the heat of vaporization and heat of condensation of a closed thermodynamic cycle to do useful work. 

As well known, the phase transition is the physical-chemical phenomenon that we meeting during our regular life: ice melting, wafer evaporation, rain and so on.

Hence, the principle and its description are tips, directions for thinking, for searching for the solution.

As a matter of fact, after reading the explanations and thinking about how a Phase Transition can help in our problem solving. To solve our problem we got two solutions:

First solution: Make targets from ice (frozen water). The splinters and fallen full targets will disappear due to the melting of the ice.

Second solution: Make targets from so-called “dry ice” (frozen carbon dioxide). In this case, the splinters and full targets will disappear from the field due to the decomposition/sublimation of the solid parts into gaseous carbon dioxide, CO2.

Phase transition concept is used for the creation of both solutions: a transition from solid to liquid is used for the first solution and transition from solid to gas is used for the second solution.

So, let’s continue with the second principle – Blessing in disguise (Turn Lemons into Lemonade)

Inventive Principle #22 – Blessing in disguise (Turn Lemons into Lemonade)

The principle recommends: use harmful factors, conditions, or situations in a positive way; use a negative as a positive or amplify a harmful factor to the point where it is no longer harmful.

In addition, after reading the explanation and thinking about how “Blessing in disguise” principle can help to solve our problem we got to additional solutions:

Third solution: Make targets from fertilizing material that will be absorbed by the land with no problem

Fourth solution: The targets can be made of dog food that will be eaten by dogs or other animals.

As you can see, we have got four promising solutions that were generated with the help of an excellent creative thinking tool – 40 Inventive Principles.

Again, we want to emphasize that PRIZ Innovation Platform does not solve the problem or provides ideas. It rather directs the inventor’s thinking and focuses him on the subject.

To sum up, click the link PRIZ Innovation Platform or orange button ONLINE PLATFORM and start to solve your problems.

Think different, think inventive...

LOGIN to PRIZ Innovation Platform and start your project.

Ph.D. in Chemistry. Expert in processes design, improvement and problem-solving. TRIZ (Inventive problem solving) specialist (Level 3).


  • Alexander Talalaevski
    November 8, 2019

    Hi Anatoly,
    Very clear explanation of thinking route and great solutions! Personally I liked more phase transition solution (ice), because in my opinion, it leads for less secondary problems to resolve and also has a potential for ice making machines industry growth by producing ice devices in many other possible forms for different use – for example bar shot glass.
    Lets open think tank for analyzing challenge of implementation?

    • Anatoly
      November 9, 2019

      Many thanks for your comment. Very interesting. Challenge of Implementation – another huge topic. It seems to me the investigation could be started with Cause and Effect Chain analysis followed by 40 principles and solutions priority management. Please try to use our Innovation Platform and post a blog at our site.
      Thank you,

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    June 8, 2020

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  • Dr Sunil Gupta
    May 21, 2021

    Great article


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