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Article 5 – 2013

people posing and smiling with shotguns

Question: Can you explain to me what the difference between a “sporting” model under and over shotgun is as opposed to a “field” model shotgun. I can’t see anything obvious. I can tell the difference between trap and sporting and even skeet shotguns, but looking at the field version of most shotguns I can’t define exactly what the difference is.

Peter McIvor, Leopold VIC


Answer: There are not many differences Peter, but the obvious one is generally a field shotgun is lighter. The comb on the stock will be thinner, the barrels lighter and the sighting ribs are generally not as thick or tapered. Straight grips instead of pistol grips was another defining difference in years gone by and this commonly seen on field side by side shotguns, but these days most under and overs have the standard pistol grip.


Question: I have slowly been converted to trap shooting from sporting clays. One problem I am having is knowing where to actually look for the target just prior to its release. Is there a hard and fast rule to use when using your eyes?

Hayden Dunn, Dandenong VIC


Answer: Trap shooting, whether it be the Olympic or the American version, is unique in the fact that unlike many of the clay target events the trajectory is completely unknown. This being the case a slightly different technique is required to visually acquire the target as opposed to shooting a discipline where the flight path is known.

In Trap shooting a technique called “soft focus” is used when calling for the target. This basically means that a broad area above the top and around the end of your barrel is focused on as opposed to looking at any object in particular. This broad area quickly narrows once the targets flight line is established and at the point of pulling the trigger the target is completed seen in a clear sharp focus. It is impossible to have your vision perfectly clear and concise at a specific distance where you first identify the target in its flight and then quickly refocus on an object that is being hurled through the air and an unknown angle going away from you at eighty kilometres per hour. “Soft” focusing allows you to let the target arrive into an area of space that you know will be the “killing zone”.

This change from a soft to clear focus takes place in about four tenths of a second. It is hard to describe in this short space how it happens, in fact it is not important to know how it happens, just recognize the fact it does happen. I often describe that using your eyes when shooting trap is like drawing the strings on a military duffle bag. When you call pull the bag is open and wide, but as you move towards the target the strings are pulled tighter and tighter to the point where you pull the trigger and at this moment the bag should now be tightly closed.

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