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Article 4 – 2010

boy posing and smiling with shotgun

Question: I have been shooting Trap for over a year now and have worked my way back to a 21 metre handicap with a standard Miroku Trap gun. When I shoot from this distance and even further back have you any suggestions you can give me to improve? I seem to be very erratic and inconsistent the further back I get, but I guess this is understandable. Grateful for any advice you can give me.

Andrew G, Essendon VIC


Answer: I have always liked to make some changes when shooting from 22 metres and beyond. First of all the hold or starting position of the gun in relation to the trap house when calling for the target is different for me. I like to use a high gun hold position when shooting trap and teach this technique for shooters that shoot with both eyes open. The starting position for common mark ( 15 metre ) shooting is much higher than what it is off my handicap mark of 25 metres. This is simply to have a similar amount of gun movement to move the gun up from the starting position to the point where the trigger is pulled to break the target. Obviously the further back you stand from the trap house the less gun movement is needed to shoot the target so to simulate the movement needed from 15 metres to 25 metres a lower start position is needed for the latter. If you have a shotgun with an adjustable comb and adjustable chokes then two more alterations can be made which I believe are advantageous. I personally like to shoot a gun with a higher point of impact from the maximum handicap distance. I do this because it gives me extra vertical lead when you come up from under the target. I like to lift my comb up three millimeters which equates to a twelve percent higher shooting shot pattern.

There is only one choke to use if you have a choice on long handicap shots. Full. There really isn’t anything to discuss here. I use an improved modified choke for the first shot from 15 metres and the extra 10 metres in handicap ideally requires the next tightest choke. If you have the luxury of having both barrels with adjustable chokes then screw in an even tighter full choke into the top tube. Remember a standard full choke with a typical trap load is ideal to 36.5 metres. Not too many shooters I have seen are quick enough to shoot both barrels accurately at a target before it has travelled only 11.5 metres from the trap so anything less than full choke is probably not perfect.

Under the rules of the Australian Clay Target Association a shot shell with 32 grams of shot is the permissible maximum load to be used in handicap competitions ( 28 grams is the maximum for all other DTL Trap events ). Take advantage of the extra 4 grams of shot when shooting at the greater distance. Personally I like number 7 shot from 25 metres as opposed to 7.5’s from 15 metres. The larger shot has the extra hitting power on the target which I prefer, particularly if you need a second barrel break. Any shot shell that has a velocity of over 1250 feet per second with 32 grams of shot is going to recoil on your shoulder and face fairly hard so I really think you need to avoid some of the ultra fast loads that I am sure will hit the target hard, but your body just as hard which can make 50 targets of handicap shooting a bruising and unpleasant experience.

Finally if you get the opportunity to shoot a 32” or 81cm barrel from the longer handicap distances then please try it. The extra couple of inches will smooth out your swing and I am sure will improve your score. In the United States where the best handicap shooters play, 34” and even 36” barrels are not uncommon.

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