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Article 7 – 2023 (August)

Australian Shooter Magazine

Question and Answers

Article 7 – 2023 (August)

Question:  Recently I purchased a second hand shotgun, it is an Akkar Churchill Sporter, and for some reason I have developed a habit where I just can’t pull the trigger when taking a shot. I shoot a bit of everything with this shotgun and I really like it. I had a Miroku MK 70 prior to this and I never had this happen. Any advice would be appreciated.

Kevin Muscatt, Point Cook VIC

Answer:  Without actually seeing you shoot the firearm it is hard to be definitive in my answer, but I will try. I will make the assumption that the firearm is mechanically OK. By that I am assuming that for some reason the trigger pull isn’t ridiculously heavy. You can get a cheap set of fish scales and check this for yourself. Typically, the first barrel of an under and over shotgun will fire when 1.5 to 2 kilograms of weight is applied to pulling the trigger. The second shot should be slightly heavier. If this measurement is fine then you may have a more sinister problem.

What you are describing is what is called a “flinch”. In golf bad putters of the ball call it the “yips”. I am sure I have discussed this phenomenon in this forum several times over the past twenty years, but it is worth discussing again. As to what causes a flinch to develop is still largely speculation, but I have found that a fear of recoil or even a fear of missing are to two most common causes.

Here is the bad news. There is no definitive fix, but there are some things to try. First of all, make sure you are pulling the trigger with the correct part of your trigger finger. It should be in the middle of the fleshy part of your fingers pad between the last joint and the end. By pulling the trigger here you will need less movement to fire the shotgun than any other part of your finger. If you have an adjustable trigger, you will probably need to move the trigger further forward to help you pull the trigger in this manner.

If this doesn’t cure the issue you can try adding a trigger “shoe” over the top of the existing trigger. This will change how the trigger feels on your finger and I have seen this work. Practicing at home “dry firing” the shotgun will help with the aid of some snap caps.

If these two things don’t help then I would suggest you really down grade your ammunition velocity to see if recoil is the issue. Try something with a muzzle velocity up to 50 metres a second (150 feet) slower. You may want to also lighten the amount of shot you are using. Try some 24 gram shells instead of 28 grams for example. Anything that will lighten the recoil and make it more pleasurable to shoot is worth trying to see if this is the issue.

You mention you never have had this problem with your previous shotgun. What was the overall weight of the Miroku compared to the Churchill? Lighter shotguns recoil more and therefore the pain factor is higher. This may be very well be the cause of the problem.

The last piece of advice before I suggest the most serious course of action is simply to have a rest for a few weeks and come back fresh and try it once again.

If all that fails then “Houston we have a problem” and the only way around it may be to try a release trigger shotgun. This is really the last course of action. With a release trigger you have to pull the trigger first to engage the mechanism which means the next movement you make is to let the trigger go to fire it. Absolutely this will cure a flinch in most cases, but it will take a little bit of discipline and some steady nerves to get used to it. In the USA a great many trap shooters have had huge success once they have changed to this trigger mechanism. You mention you shoot all types of clay target events so be aware that for any of the Olympic clay target disciplines there is a total ban on release trigger shotguns so put on hold your plans to go to Paris next year if you are indeed forced to go down this road. The other issue you will face is that not all shotguns are capable of accommodating a release trigger mechanism. I have no clue if a Churchill will handle this I am afraid.

I am sorry I can’t be more precise in my answer, but this technical/mental problem remains one of the real mysteries in our sport.

Good luck with it.

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