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Article 8 – 2021 (September)

Australian Shooter Magazine

Question and Answers

Article 8 – 2021 (September)

Question: I have been a shotgun shooter all my life, but for the most part I have been an avid duck and quail hunter. Recently I was introduced to clay shooting and became immediately addicted. I have noticed when I shoot Sporting Clays, I have no problems looking down the centre of the barrel, but when I shoot Trap or Skeet, I find I am hopelessly looking a long way down the right side of the barrel. I use the same Miroku shotgun for hunting and clays, but out in the field I don’t have any problems either. Any solutions you have to correct this fundamental error would be much appreciated.

Mark Morrison, Shepparton VIC

Answer: Without physically seeing you shoot Trap or Skeet my answer is fraught with danger, but I have seen this issue on many occasions so I am happy to offer you something to try.

The problem could be caused by the fact that when you shoot Trap or Skeet the shotgun is pre-mounted to your shoulder before the target is released and you could be keeping the shotgun locked into your face by pushing your right elbow up (this is based on the assumption you are right-handed and your right eye is your master eye). Pushing your right elbow up too far can cause you to cant the shotgun inwards. This means the rib on the barrel is dipped lower on the left side than the right.

You can highlight this fundamental problem by simply getting a thirty-centimetre wooden school ruler and strapping it across the end of your barrel. You will have fifteen centimetres either side of the barrel. A couple of rubber bands will do the trick to hold it the ruler in place. The ruler will look like a small wing across the end of the barrel, but if you are canting the shotgun inward the ruler will be much lower on the left side than it will be on the right.

If this is occurring there are two very simple solutions. You drop your right elbow down to sixty or even forty-five degrees and this may cause the “twisting” of the shotgun that is the cause of the inwards cant to straighten.

Another solution is to add what is called “cast at the toe”. This just involves unscrewing the bottom screw of your recoil pad and re-screwing it a few millimetres to the right. Don’t go too far as you run the risk of cracking your stock with a screw out the side of it. Adding cast will let you mount the butt of your stock in a more comfortable part of your shoulder and it will negate the habit of you twisting the gun inwards when mounting it to make it feel comfortable.

In the field whilst hunting you quickly bring the gun up to your shoulder and you simply don’t have time to cant the shotgun by pushing your right elbow up too far to cause you to look down the right side of the barrel.

A small amount of cant, either inwards or outwards, is not the end of the world particularly when shooting a shotgun that has a fairly flat point of impact. Where canting can become a problem is on your second shot, especially when a quick instinctual shot is required as is often the case in trap shooting. If the shotgun is canted then the recoil of the first shot will naturally try to straighten the shotgun into its correct position and this will cause your eye to be misaligned down the barrel causing obvious inaccuracy. With very high shooting Trap shotguns canting can become a serious problem that should be addressed.

If your problem still exists after you have straightened the shotgun after its mounted to your shoulder by dropping your right elbow or you have added cast at the toe to help it find a more comfortable position in your shoulder socket then you may simply may just have too much cast on the comb of your stock. Miroku’s are not known for excessive amounts of cast so I would be a little surprised if the stock had that much bend in it (it is called “cast off” for right handers) that it is causing your master eye to look down the right side of the barrel.

As I always suggest, try and rectify the problem with the aid of a pattern board.

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