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Article 2 – 2010

woman shooting shotgun with guide

Question: For a number of years I have been shooting clay targets with no great improvement. I like to shoot all disciplines, but trap is my favourite. I am told by many people that I “cant” my shotgun to the left and this will hold me back from improving. I shoot a Beretta 682 X Trap shotgun which has a raised rib. Can you explain what “cant” is and in layman terms tell me does it make a difference to how I shoot especially with this raised rib gun and please give me a way to cure this?

Lionel Kemp, Gold Coast QLD


Answer: Canting a shotgun occurs when the gun that is mounted into your shoulder does not sit vertically thus making the barrels lean to the right or, as is very common in broad chested right handed males, to the left. Most people that cant the barrels are unaware they are doing it. Does it make a difference? Of course it must. I have seen competent shooters shoot hundreds of targets in a row from the 15 metre mark on trap ranges with a canted gun mount, but I cannot name too many great trap shooters from the 25 metre handicap mark that cant their guns. The reason for this is the further away you try and hit something with a canted gun the less accurate you will be. These days many trap shooters are using shotguns that are built with higher ribs on top of their barrels to help visibility and target acquisition. These guns are fine as long as your technique is sound. They are often set up to shoot very high shot patterns to help shoot rising trap targets. By shooting high I am suggesting that the barrels are shooting up to 100 percent above the aiming point. With any height rib trap gun that is set up in this way a small cant can have catastrophic effects to your shot pattern when a quick reacting second shot is required.

My experience tells me that canting can be caused by a variety of factors. Firstly a poor gun mount usually caused by not lifting the shotgun up to the shoulder vertically enough. This is a common fault in new shooters that try and put the stock into the shoulder pocket before they have lifted the barrels into a position parallel enough to do so correctly. Canting can be caused by not enough pitch in the gun, not enough cast on the toe of the pad, a comb on the stock which is far too thick which will not let your cheek bone become locked into the stock thus causing a sloppy head/stock mount or in many Sporting and Field shooters it is caused by the shooter twisting their hand that is holding the trigger too much when mounting the gun too quickly or carelessly thus causing poor barrel alignment.

To correct poor gun mounting an experienced shooter or a coach will be needed. If mounting isn’t the problem then for a right handed trap shooter that cants the gun to the left this problem can generally be cured by adding some pitch ( increasing the angle that the gun free stands on its recoil pad ) this is easily done by adding length to the top of the pad with a pitched spacer which may be 5mm wide at the top decreasing to 1mm at the bottom. I would suggest that pitch when measured as an angle needs to be around 2 to 6 degrees for most normally built male shooters. Too little or too much pitch can cause other problems too complex to talk about here. Another adjustment can simply be to undo the bottom screw of your recoil pad and rescrew it a few millimeters to the right away from the shoulder thus adding some cast at the toe of the gun. Both adding pitch and cast at the toe should allow the pad to sit at a different angle in the shoulder pocket thus straightening up a canted barrel which was leaning to the left. If you cant the gun to the right and you are a right hand shooter you can simply do the opposite pitch and cast at toe adjustments to try and help the problem.

Lionel try these little adjustments then go down to the pattern board at your club and shoot some shots with both barrels at around 20 metres and see for yourself if it has helped. The pattern board rarely lies.

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