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Article 10 – 2012

people posing and smiling with shotguns

Question: Is there a correct position to place the butt of the shotgun on your shoulder? I have asked many people and have had a variety of answers. I often feel as though my gun placement is far too low on my shoulder, but it feels fine. I am concerned it causes me to see the target poorly. What is considered normal?

Rhys Hughes, Geelong VIC


Answer: If you were asking what is considered as fundamentally correct I would suggest that the top of your shotguns recoil pad should be aligned with the top of your shoulder thus ensuring that all of the pads 140mm is in contact with some part of your shoulder. If you have someone check this for you and part of the recoil pad is above the shoulder line or alternatively if a portion of your guns butt is below your shoulder socket and exposed under your arm pit then I would suggest that your gun mount is not fundamentally correct.

As always there are always many exceptions to the rule. One of the greatest Olympic Trap shooters I have competed against was an Italian called Marco Venturini. He mounted the shotgun virtually on his right breast with no part of recoil pad touching his shoulder. It made for a very unusual looking technique where it always made me think he had eyes in the top of his head because he was hunched so far forward over the top of the stock. Alternatively I have seen quite a few champions shooting with 40mm or more of the pad appearing way above the top of their shoulder. These competitors would be far better suited for a “Monte Carlo” stock, but that’s another topic altogether.

Trap shooters have no excuse however to adopt a technique which is basically incorrect. They have the chance to pre mount the shotgun before calling for the target. Even though you can become a champion with a poor technique, I often wonder how many more titles these competitors would have won if they had a simpler style.

When I coach someone, no matter what discipline of shotgun shooting, I always try this simple drill. I get the shooter to dry mount an unloaded shotgun and swing the gun to a typical position where most of their targets will be shot. I then get the shooter to stay rock solid in this position and carefully reach under them and slowly pull the shotgun away from their shoulder and face, but be very conscious to make them stay in exactly the same position as they were when they were about to shoot the target. Once you have taken control of their gun ask them can they look through their eyes and see objects around them clearly. If they can’t then there is a good chance they have mounted the gun incorrectly either by placing the stock too low on their shoulder therefore causing them to look out of the top of their eyes or, as is a very common fault with beginners, they drop their head sideways on their stock thus causing their eyes not to be parallel to the horizon. If you were going to watch somebody shoot you would stand there with your head dipped down or tilted on an angle. If your not prepared to watch targets like this as a spectator why would you want to shoot targets in this fashion as a competitor?

Gun mounting is very much related to correctly setting your head on the stock. If your head is on the stock correctly then your eyes will be in their best possible position to work for you properly. Generally you are trying to adopt a technique that enables you to look through the middle of your eyes with both eyes parallel. In essence everything relates back to target acquisition. It is the same whether you are trying to shoot a duck or clay target. If you cant see it you cant shoot it!

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