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Article 1 – 2023 (February)

Australian Shooter Magazine

Question and Answers

Article 1 – 2023 (February)

Question:  A few years ago I hurt my shoulder in a farm accident and it really stopped me playing most sports at a serious level. I recently was at a range in Queensland and had a few shots at sporting clays and I loved it. I am told because of my injury I could apply for a category “C” licence and use a semi- automatic shotgun. If I take the sport up seriously, do you think there are any disadvantages using this type of firearm?

Ken Wright, Brisbane QLD

Answer:   A good “gas operated” semi-automatic shotgun will significantly reduce the effects of “felt” recoil and this will certainly help you enjoy your sporting clay experience so I am all for this idea. The fact that lighter weighing semi-autos can do this as opposed to the heavier framed under and over shotguns is a real bonus also if you feel the effects of having to mount a shotgun to your injured shoulder all afternoon. Note that I use the word “felt” recoil as opposed to “actual” recoil, but this is a debate we have had many times in this column and will avoid this for the purposes of this answer.

If you can get the required medical approval to gain your “C” class firearms licence then I would absolutely suggest you to do so. Competition grade semi-automatic shotguns have come a long way over the years, but obviously we haven’t seen too many in Australia over the past few decades. In the USA a great deal of competitors in Sporting Clays use them competitively and very successfully. Many American women and children start their careers with them because of the lighter weight and their ability to absorb how heavy and faster ammunition feel on their shoulders. In saying that many larger framed guys use them also simply because these days they are so well balanced that there is an argument the single and simple sighting plane barrel offered by a semi-auto shotgun is easier and more accurate to use.

The only disadvantage I have ever seen with a reliable semi auto is its single choke. In Sporting Clays you may be faced with the scenario of a pair of targets with one target being shot at twenty or thirty metres in distance apart from the other. If this is the case then the same size choke for both targets is not ideal, but some compensation can be made with the right ammunition choice in shotshells between the two shots.

Personally I enjoyed shooting a heavy weight Winchester Super X semi-automatic for a few years back in the 1980’s for handicap trap shooting from the longer distances where only a full choke is required. I had quite a bit of success with it also. As long as I kept it clean and well serviced, I never had any issues with it apart from the fact I always wanted to transport it in a gun slip, but some shooting associations in Australia forbid a gun inside a gun slip to be carried on their shooting ranges. Be aware of that.

Question:  I bought a new shotgun and I am struggling to mount it correctly. I have checked my eye dominance and I am right handed and shoot with two eyes open, but I can’t seem to get it to my shoulder without tilting my head sideways across the comb of the shotgun. Any help would be appreciated.

Kim Johanson, Henley Beach SA

Answer: Without seeing you mount the shotgun it’s a hard one, but one thing is for certain, if your head is not mounted on the stock of your shotgun with your eyes perfectly straight then you are wasting your time in this sport. I rate it as the most important fundamental to master.

It could be a couple of simple problems to fix such as the stock is too long for you or you could be canting or twisting the shotguns barrels as you mount the gun to your shoulder which can cause you to lay your head across the stock of the gun.

I would suggest you put a red dot on your bathroom mirror and try a few different variations of your gun mount, pointing it at the red dot, until you can get your head straight. You wouldn’t drive down the freeway with your head tilted on an angle because you may drive off the side of the road so I would suggest you don’t try this when trying to shoot a shotgun.

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