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Article 1 – 2015

people posing and smiling with shotguns

Question: I have been shooting shotguns for over twenty-five years, but would class myself as only an average shooter. I mainly shoot recreationally although I did compete for a few years when I was a bit younger. The reason I stopped was that I started having a real problem simply pulling the trigger. I recently went back to a range in Sydney and to my disbelief I started where I left off. Is there a way to cure this freezing on the trigger I am experiencing?

Bob Hart, Penrith NSW


Answer: The dreaded “F” word in shotgun shooting. You call it a freeze, some call in a flinch. Either way it’s a massive problem if you don’t get on top of it. The actual cause of it is not really clear. It tends to strike competition shooters more than recreational hunters, but nobody is immune. There is a school of thought that it develops from exposure to excessive recoil due to an ill fitting gun or powerful shot shells. Personally I have seen people flinch on the lightest of loads with perfectly fitting twenty thousand dollar shotguns.

Without actually seeing your shotgun it is hard, if not impossible, to give you a definitive answer, but I have seen different things work. I have coached shooters that flinched because they have overly large hands and the gun stocks pistol grip was simply too small for them to hold the gun correctly. Extending the grip and palm swell requires some serious work by a qualified stock maker, but when done properly it allows the shooter to hold the stock correctly where their hand will be supported by the woodwork of the gun and most importantly allow the trigger to be pulled back parallel to the barrels and not upwards at 45 degrees or more.

Another cheap and simple strategy is to try and fit what is called a trigger shoe over the existing trigger. This makes the surface area of the trigger much larger and for many more comfortable to pull. It also makes the length of pull longer which will again help somebody who has large hands.

The most common cure world wide is a fix you really won’t want to hear about I am afraid. If extending or adjusting the grip or trigger still offers no relief the problem may be solved with what is called a “release trigger”. It is exactly what is refers to. The trigger is pulled once the gun is in a closed position and then the trigger is “armed”. It fires the shot shell by simply letting it go or released. It is common amongst many American Trap shooters and quite a few shoot double release triggers.

If you are a recreational duck shooter this will be highly annoying, as you will be holding the trigger for long periods of time. This can obviously also be quite dangerous if you are not well versed in its operation. On the clay target range it is a little easier to get used to, but some events like those conducted by the International Shooting Sports Federation make a release trigger illegal to use.

A release trigger mechanism is not suitable for all types of shotguns so a change of brand may be necessary.

Hopefully this is a starting point for you to identify a cure. Good luck with it.

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