Skip to main content

Article 1 – 2022 (February)

Australian Shooter Magazine

Question and Answers

Article 1 – 2022 (February)


Question: I am relatively new to the shotgun shooting world, but have really loved every chance I have had to shoot clays. I have finally decided to purchase my own shotgun, but I am really confused. What I really enjoy shooting is Sporting Clays or “Five Stand” sporting. I assumed I needed a “Sporting” shotgun to do this, but everyone is advising me to buy a sporting shotgun with a “trap” stock. I am totally confused. Please help.

Allen Chan, Liverpool NSW


Answer:  No wonder you are confused. I don’t believe any manufacturer markets a “Sporting” shotgun with a “Trap” stock attached. These are two different types of shotguns that are designed for two distinctly different disciplines. So, here’s the thing. It’s not bad advice. So now you are totally confused right? Let me explain.

Over the past thirty years here are three major trends in competition shotguns. The raised rib barrel, longer barrel lengths and finally higher stocks. Higher stocks in essence are stocks that make the point of impact of the shotgun imprint well above the point of aim. The higher you go the more these type of stocks fit in to the category of what are classed as “Trap” stocks. Trap shooters like higher impacting shotguns because their targets are always rising and to shoot a trap target correctly a higher stock is advantageous. As Sporting Clays has grown it didn’t take too long for the world’s best competitors in this discipline to work out that this type of stock can be an advantage also. Sure, not all sporting targets are rising like trap targets do, in fact a great percentage of their targets don’t rise too much at all, but a higher ‘trap” type stock gives you the advantage of always being able to see the target clearly when you are pulling the trigger regardless of the flight line of your target. For clays that are dropping it simply means your sight picture will dictate that you will need to see more “space” under your target. Flatter stocks will often cause you to block the target out of your vision to hit it accurately. This is a dangerous and poor habit to form in any discipline of clay target shooting or hunting.

Traditional sporting shotguns are still sold with traditional sporting stocks, but the advent of the adjustable stock comb has given this type of shotgun a chance to be modified to stock heights that will measure to numbers that are really trap stock dimensions producing adequate trap shooting “high” shot patterns. There are many world class sporting clay shooters that shoot the same shotgun for all clay target shooting disciplines to prove this theory has legs.

The only disadvantage I see with stocks that are too high is when you are forced to swing through targets that require enormous barrel speeds. Olympic Trap shooters face this dilemma. If your stock is too high in this discipline and you miss your first shot, and here a fast second shot is required, then if your stock is too high you will more than likely just shoot straight over the target with your next shot. This is where the trade-offs start. For traditional domestic disciplines of trap such as what is called “Down the Line” then shot patterns of one hundred per cent above the aiming point are common. For Olympic Trap, and its faster barrel movements, a much lower pattern such as seventy percent are typical. This means seventy percent of the shot will impact above the aiming point and the remaining thirty percent below (commonly called a 70/30 pattern).  My gut feeling is if you can handle a sporting shotgun that throws a pattern in the seventy percent range you will be well served. Thirty years ago, a sixty percent sporting shotgun would have been considered too high.

These percentages are only yardsticks and everyone is slightly different and many elite competitors simply don’t have a clue where there shotgun shoots and don’t want to know. They are probably world class because of this very reason. They continue to break targets and just trust that this will continue to happen. There is some valid rationale in this school of thought also.

The answer is to try a few different stock heights if you can before you make your purchase. Personally, if I was you, I would find which stock height suits you best based on how many targets you are breaking and then ask if you can go and pattern the shotgun to establish where the firearm is actually shooting in relation to your point of aim. This knowledge is invaluable in my opinion.

Good luck with it and welcome to our sport.

Article 11 – 2021 (December) Previous Article Article 2 – 2022 (March) Next Article