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Article 4 – 2015

woman posing and smiling with shotgun and medal

Question: I have been toying with the idea of shooting some competition trap and everyone tells me that my field gun won’t work for me. In practice I can hit anywhere from twenty to twenty four targets out of twenty five very regularly. Can you justify to me why I would need to spend another ten thousand dollars on a new shotgun just to participate in this event?

Doug Appleton, Aberfeldie VIC


Answer: Doug I can’t possibly justify spending any amount of your money just to shoot a trap target. If you are after advice as to why a designated “trap” shotgun will make shooting this event easier then I am happy to help.

There are several subtle differences between a typical field shotgun and a trap shotgun. Field shotguns tend to be lighter to make carrying the firearm for long periods easier. Generally a field shotgun will have shorter barrels than a trap model. Seventy one centimetres is the most common length barrel on a field gun as opposed to seventy six centimetres or, of late, eighty one centimetres on a trap barrel. Also the rib on top of the barrel on a field shotgun will generally be narrower than that of a trap barrel as well as a thinner forend (the wooden grip under the barrel that holds the barrel to the mechanism).

The previous differences that I have mentioned certainly help distinguish the two varieties of shotgun, but by far the biggest variation lies in the stock of the shotgun. A field shotgun will have a very narrow comb (the crest on top of the stock) with lots of “drop” built into it. Drop is the difference in height of the comb from the top point at the front to the very bottom where the comb joins the top of the recoil pad or butt. Typically the difference will be 20 millimetres from front to back. This is largely due to the fact that stocks with lots of drop make the shotgun easier to mount to the shoulder when raised quickly from the pre-mounted “waiting” position beside your hip.

For those that are technically minded the measurements of drop on a field shotgun will generally be around forty millimetres at the highest point dropping away to sixty millimetres at the lowest point. This is measured simply by running a long ruler along the barrels and hanging it over the stock. The distance is then measured from the top of the stock to the bottom of the ruler that will of course be be parallel to the barrel.

A stock on a trap shotgun will have far less drop and in many cases wont have any. The measurements will be far less with a typical trap shotgun having thirty four millimetres of drop at the front and no more than forty four millimetres at the back. The less drop means the stock is higher therefore keeping the competitors head more upright and making the barrels shoot higher. Typically trap shooters look down along the sighting plane (rib) of their shotgun which of course means the firearm will shoot higher which is perfectly suited for the consistently rising target that is offered in all forms of trap shooting.

A field shotgun with its lower stock will force the shooters eye to look flatter along the rib of the fiearm thus making the shotgun itself shoot flatter which is not ideal in the sport of trap shooting.

These are the main reasons why a trap shotgun is better suited to that particular discipline. It is a “horses for courses” situation I am afraid. There is not one shotgun that is perfect for all clay target events.

I would think you would want to be fairly serious on taking the sport up if you are going to invest ten thousand dollars on a solitary shotgun, but you do generally get what you pay for. If you do spend that much maybe tell your wife you only paid three thousand dollars. This will of course backfire on you if she sells it for six thousand dollars behind your back thinking that she was doing you a favour!


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