Article 2 – 2017
Question: I have been shooting sporting clays, skeet and trap on and off for many years, but mainly for fun. One habit I have never been able to overcome is moving the gun after I call for the target to be released, but before I have actually seen the clay in the air. Is there a way to fix this?
Alex Diamitriatis, Brunswick VIC
Answer: Alex the habit of unintentionally “moving the shotgun” generally only surfaces when a competitor is under pressure. It is a product of stress. If moving the gun is inconsistent then this will certainly cause a problem in all disciplines of clay target shooting. I use the word “unintentionally” as there is a school of thought that moving the gun slowly forward along the flight path is actually correct. I have seen too many world class shooters actually do this to totally dismiss the notion. It does take quite a lot of practice as is not considered fundamentally correct by many coaches.
The basic rationale behind the technique is that by having a slow moving barrel when the target is released it will become far easier and smoother to continue the barrel towards the target. If the barrel is stagnant then the argument is the first movement towards the target is jerky and often inconsistent.
If you can learn to compete under pressure with a consistently moving shotgun barrel when the target is requested then good luck to you, but I am not keen to teach novices this method as once pressure is applied the gun barrel tends to move faster and faster therefore the competitors timing becomes erratic. I do admit that I have toyed with this technique over the years, particularly in the faster clay target disciplines like Olympic Trap. I found in practice I could get quite high scores, but under pressure when your heart starts to pump at 120 beats per minute I found the moving gun strategy very difficult to control. This is often the case with many technique changes. Doing it in practice is quite easy with a 60 beat per minute heart rate. It is not until it can be perfected under the stress of a meaningful competition can judgment be passed.
One of the best ways to overcome this habit is simply by getting someone to randomly turn off the release system that the clay target machine is connected to. If you call “pull” and your barrel continues on a path even though there is no target in the air then you soon realize you have a problem. The best way to overcome this quickly is to take an extra couple of seconds to wait before you call and let your eyes softly focus in the target acquisition area before asking the target to be released.
Question: I have a shotgun that has interchangeable chokes, but I think one of them has been damaged, as it doesn’t quite screw right into the barrel. It has about two millimetres exposed at the end of the barrel. Is this an issue?
Grant Bradshaw, Lismore NSW
Answer: Yes it certainly is an issue. Don’t use it, as it potentially will blow the end of your barrel apart. There may be a problem with the thread and the two millimetres left exposed at the end of the barrel means there is a gap of two millimetres inside the barrel which will allow gas to build up underneath the choke between the barrel wall which is quite thin at this point. You can be lucky and nothing will happen, but there have been many instances of barrels splitting because of this condition. If you have not dropped the choke on the ground or have been negligent in any way then take it back to your place of purchase and see if it is under warranty. If not buy another choke. It is far cheaper than buying another barrel.