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Article 7 – 2015

person aiming shotgun at target range

Question: I am totally confused about what barrel length I should purchase on a new shotgun I am looking at. The firearm will be mainly used in the field, but I would like to try sporting clays also. The gun has three different barrel options in 71cm, 76cm or 81cm. What do you recommend? I have done a little bit of shooting and I describe myself as fairly typical in my height and weight.

Tony Cauchi, Caroline Springs VIC


Answer: Tony it’s always difficult to give specific advice on gun fitting until I have actually seen you mount the shotgun. From what you are telling me you are resonably new to the sport and are of average height and want to use your new shotgun for a variety of disciplines. On that information I would have to suggest you try and purchase a 76cm barrel (commonly referred to as a 30” barrel).

76 cm barrels provide the ideal all round option for clays and field shooting. If you were only using your shotgun to shoot quail in the paddock at short range then there may be an argument to look at the 71cm option, but this really won’t be ideal in sporting clays where there are many competitors using 81cm barrels very successfully. The longer barrels are better suited for longer range shots, but for many people are too long to handle comfortably. Unless you are well over 180 cm tall and have a great deal of experience I would always ask that you try these longer tubes before you buy them. Alternatively the 71cm barrels will be very fast and whippy on many of the precise shots you need on a sporting range particularly at greater distances.

Most of the decent brands offer screw in adjustable chokes as a standard option on their sporting model shotguns which would be ideal in your situation. If you decide at a later date to upgrade your firearm then by far the most sought after shotgun is the 76cm option.


Question: I have a couple of young boys who are thirteen and twelve years of age wanting to start shooting clays on my farm. Is there one piece of technical advice you would give them before they start. They are both decent rifle shooters.

Kevin O’Donnell, Goulburn NSW


Answer: I will assume you have a shotgun that has a shorter stock so your boys can get the firearm in the correct position on their shoulder. Apart from a poor gun fit by far the biggest mistake beginners make, especially ones that have been shooting rifles, is that they try and shoot clays with one eye shut and use the front bead of the shotgun as a rifle sight. First of all determine which is their dominant eye. Get them to use their right index finger to point at an object far away on the horizon and then close their left eye. If the finger is still pointing at the object then they are good to go with both eyes open and shooting from their right shoulder. If they are left eye dominant then if possible get them to shoot from their left shoulder. If this is not possible they will need to shoot with a patch covering the focal point of their master eye.

Start the kids right up behind the trap and have the machine fixed throwing a straight away target. It is so important to get them hitting targets as soon as possible so they build up a “sight picture” in their brain and of course for their confidence. Once they are hitting five in a row move them back a few metres at a time and maybe add some angle to the clays trajectory or give them a second barrel shot at the clay as well.

Good luck with your boys.

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