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In the 1969 rulebook IIIA.5. Regular Target the wording was identical to current IIIA.4. except for the last sentence. The sentence which you 'bolded' above used to read "This target, in still air, must carry to a distance equivalent, on level ground, to fifty-five (55) yards from the traphouse, but under no conditions exceed sixty-five (65) yards."

Not a substantial change - allowance is now tightened up to plus or minus two yards with 60 yards still the desired no-wind distance.

I was told that the old single-stack Winchester traps needed the 5-yard tolerance on the low side when the main spring became old and lost some tension. In fact, some clubs set their distance markers at 55 yards to avoid excessive spring breakage. Over-tightening a weakened main spring to try to make the 60-yard distance could result in breakage which could be disastrous to the trap machine - sometimes the spring would fly apart with sufficient force to break the aluminum alloy 'nose cone' which formed the front anchor on the spring housing. Clubs often borrowed extra traps to keep on hand for quick replacement during tournaments. If your club still uses the Winchester trap you might note that the 'nose cone' on some of the machines have been repaired by welding.
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