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Article 10 – 2020 (November)

Russell Mark

Australian Shooter Magazine – Question and Answers

Article 10 – 2020 (November)


Question: I have recently bought a Miroku MK38 and I shoot mainly Sporting Clays and the occasional round of Skeet with it, but only for fun. I shoot it quite well. Recently I went to a club and I shot some targets out of a trap layout and I didn’t miss and everybody around me missed heaps. Everyone tells me that my new sporting gun would not be suitable for shooting trap as the stock is too low. I went and patterned the shotgun on a pattern board (as per your instructions in a previous ASJ article) and it pretty much shot half the pattern below where I was aiming and half above, maybe a fraction higher. Is this a problem? I don’t seem to have any problems hitting anything with it.

Tony White, Indooroopilly QLD


Answer: Absolutely no problem at all. The smartest thing you did was to go and pattern your shotgun AFTER you were comfortable that you were hitting targets consistently. The pattern percentage you describe may be called a 55/45 percentage pattern, or a 60/40 at best as you suggest it may be slightly higher than dead flat. I can name a multitude of Olympic and World Champions at Trap that shoot this percentage. I can name quite a few that shoot 80/20 and even 100/0 in the domestic (slower) disciplines of Trap also. What you have discovered is your “sight picture”. It is suitable for you, not me and maybe not any of your shooting buddies, but it is right for you. As long as you maintain the same amount of face-pressure on the comb of the stock every time you pull the trigger at your target it should never vary unless you put on or loose a fair bit of body weight.

The knowledge you have gained by patterning your shotgun is invaluable. If you ever decide to buy another shotgun or change body shape, then you now have a blueprint of what your eyes are telling your brain in relation to the correct time to pull the trigger.

In saying all of that not everyone patterns their shotgun. The greatest shotgun shooter on earth, in my opinion, is George Digweed from England who has twenty-six different world shotgun titles to his name. My wife Lauryn recently spoke to George about the “point of impact” of his shotgun. George asked Lauryn “what’s that?”. Lauryn said, “you know, where your gun shoots on the pattern board”, George’s response was “how would I know I have never done that. They did it for me at the Perazzi factory and I looked away”. George went on to tell Lauryn that if he places a one-pound coin on his barrel right down near the receiver of his shotgun and if he can still see the front sight then his shotgun should shoot fine. This tells me two things about George. First of all his shotgun may shoot relatively high, much higher than yours, and secondly George being the world’s greatest shotgun shooter, has that much natural ability he simply places the end of the barrel where it needs to be in relation to the target and he does this with ridiculous consistency and never doubts his ability to do so.

On the opposite end of the scale is Kimberly Rhode, the USA’s six-time Olympic Medallist who treats her shotgun like her favourite safari high caliber rifle and goes as far as using a rest to aid her when she patterns her shotgun. She argues that she can’t sight in her rifle free hand so why would she think she could do the same with her shotgun?

My gut tells me that Kim is more technically correct than George on this issue, but how can you argue with someone’s record like George Digweed. The bottom line is that both are confident that their shotguns are shooting in the correct position for them. It doesn’t have to be correct for anybody else and there is no right and wrong answer. If you can hit Trap, Sporting and Skeet targets all with the same shotgun without having to alter it in any way then that’s fantastic. It is not fundamentally correct, but the last time I shot a competition they only handed out prizes for those that hit the most targets, there were none for who looked the best or who had their shotguns set up the most technically correct way.

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