Russell Mark Q&A – 2013

Article 12 – 2011

Question: I have recently started a very bad habit when shooting clays of not being able to pull the trigger when I want to. I am sure it is just a mental thing, but is there anything physical I can do to get over this. I have been shooting the same shotgun for more than two decades and have never had this problem before. Any help would really be appreciated.

Ray McGregor, Gold Coast QLD

Answer: The problem you are experiencing Ray is called “freezing”. There is no real definitive answer why this starts to occur, but it quite common in shooters that have fired many hundreds of thousands of shots. The most drastic way to overcome this is to replace the trigger mechanism of your gun from a “pull” trigger to a “release” trigger. This is very popular in the United States amongst competition clay target shooters. It should be noted that this form of trigger is illegal for the International clay target events such as Olympic Trap, Double Trap and International Skeet. Not all shotguns can be readily converted to this type of mechanism also.

Some more simple solutions that I know have worked include adding a trigger “shoe” on top of your existing trigger or, if possible, changing the trigger position, either back or forward, on the mechanism. Both of these methods actually change where the finger sits on the trigger, which can make a difference.

Another solution that is popular these days is to have what is called a “glove grip” stock made which actually fits your hand into the stock like a custom pistol grip. When properly made this will put your hand in the perfect position to pull the trigger. I have recently changed to one of these stocks and whilst I never have had any “freezing” problems I will say that this grip is far more comfortable to use and allows perfect alignment of the hand and elbow when gripping the gun.

Finally please make sure that this problem is not mechanical in any way. I have seen shotguns where the triggers were so heavy to pull that freezing was inevitable simply because the trigger took so much force to fire them. This can cause freezing on the second shot more so than the first however.

Article 11 – 2011

Question: I am keen to get a shotgun set up perfectly to shoot clays with. I shoot mainly trap these days for fun as I have a few clubs within a couple of hour’s drive that offer this type of competition. I have used a sporting gun in the past and completely understand that the stock is too low to shoot a rising trap target consistently. I have tried a few guns and finally have settled on a Beretta 686 which seems to point nice, but the only issue I have is that it seems to recoil a little strangely as it tends to push itself away from my face after I have fired the first shot. Any suggestions how to rectify this?

Alan Bateman, Richmond NSW

Answer: Alan to answer your question without actually seeing your gun, stance and technique you are adopting is nearly impossible, but I can give you some generic ideas where to start. I will make the assumption the length of the stock is correct and your general gun mounting technique is also adequate. The starting point for what you explained in your email would be the pitch of the gun. Pitch is generally measured by the angle the barrels are pointed off parallel when the shotgun is stood upright when its pad or butt plate is placed on a flat surface. It can be measured in degrees such as five degrees off parallel or as a measurement, which typically can be around 40mm when measured from the end of the barrel against a flat 90-degree surface such as a doorframe. Be sure to place the action of the gun up flush with the doorframe when measuring the distance between the frame and the end of the barrel. 40mm or 5 degrees are typical, but not necessarily correct measurements for everyone. Too much pitch can make the shotgun recoil downwards and away from your face as you have described. The opposite will cause the barrel to kick upwards and often-greater perceived recoil is felt.

Many shooters who are heavily built in their chest need what is described as more cast off in the toe of the butt of the stock. An incorrect measurement here can also cause the gun to recoil unnaturally. The toe is the bottom of the pad that sits lowest on your shoulder. If this part of the pad is digging into your breast bone when you have the gun mounted to your shoulder then you are a candidate to have a little more cast added here to make the shotgun feel more comfortable and recoil better.

A simple test I like to do for anyone that is having trouble in this area is as follows. Pick a tree or object that is on the horizon several kilometres away. Load the gun and mount it in your normal manner. Focus your eyes on the object in the distance and then once you have taken aim and are steady then refocus your eyes on the end of the barrel. Pull the trigger and watch closely where the end of the barrel ends up. If it is not perfectly back on the object in the distance you were aiming at initially then you will need some adjustment. It is amazing how many shooters fail this simple gun fit test.

Article 10 – 2011

Question: I have a Miroku Trap gun which has a set of barrels with adjustable screw in chokes for each barrel. Lately I have been experimenting, but as yet have not decided on the perfect combination. I am mainly shooting Trap (DTL) and I was wondering what I should use, especially in the top barrel for the second shot? Can you also tell me what you use?

Bill Lowden, Newcastle NSW

Answer: Bill any choke is fine for the second shot in all forms of trapshooting as long as that choke is marked “full”. There simply is no debate. Even somebody that shoots relatively fast is going to be firing their second shot at thirty to thirty two metres away and this starts to fall in the perfect zone for a full choke. Now we have that barrel sorted let’s talk about your bottom barrel or first shot. Do you have another choke marked “full’? If not then try an improved modified or three quarter choke. This will be ideal for shots taken up to thirty metres. From the 15 metre line in Trap this three quarter and full combination is by far the most popular set of trap chokes in the world. There are of course always going to be exceptions to the rule, but they are rare.

I don’t shoot a great deal of DTL these days, but I prefer the above combination off 15 metres and I tighten my barrel to full and extra full (forty two thousandths of an inch) when I shoot handicap from the 25 metre mark. The only time I lighten my choke in the bottom barrel is for Double Rise shooting where you can shoot the first target much faster because you know its direction. For this I use a modified or half choke.

Question: I am a little confused about the terms relating to cast. I am a right handed shooter and I was told by several experienced shooters that I need some more cast added to the stock as I am looking significantly down the left hand side of the barrel. Can you advice me on this?

Ken Redman, Mossvale NSW

Answer: Lack of cast in your stock may be one of several reasons why you are not looking down the centre of the barrel of your shotgun Ken. It is hard to make a definitive judgment without actually seeing you mount the gun to your shoulder. I will make the assumption that your technique is correct and are not significantly canting the gun to the right which can cause your eye to be off line down the left hand side of the barrel also. Canting simply means the barrels are not perfectly horizontal and are slightly tilted after the gun has been mounted to your shoulder.

For right hand shooters cast “off” is the term used which means the shotgun’s stock is angled from the mechanism of the gun towards the right shoulder. Cast “on” is the term used when the stock is twisted towards the left, obviously for a left hand shooter. Most averagely built people have a small amount of cast at the front of their stocks comb, about double at the rear of the comb or heel and about double again at the toe or bottom of the stock. The dimensions of 3mm cast off at the front, 6mm at the heel and 12mm at the toe are not uncommon, but are certainly not the same for everybody due to different body shapes. It sounds like adding a couple of millimeters of cast “off” will help push your eye alignment closer to the centre of the barrel.

Article 9 – 2011

Question: I have been playing around with different reloads for many years. I think that I can load shot shells on my MEC 650 just as good as any mass produced loads made by any reputable manufacturer. I only use the best components and am very strict on the quality of my second hand hulls. Lately I have been experimenting by mixing a variety of size number 6, 7 and 8 shot all in the same 24 gram load. I have tested them at my local range shooting Trap and find them excellent to use. I am sure this is due to the longer shot strings that I am now achieving. I am curious on your thoughts.

Answer: I have withheld your name from publication as I am not entirely sure what you are doing is legal. If you are shooting International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) events, because you mention your reloads are 24 grams then I can assume this may be correct, then intentionally mixing different size shot may very well be illegal. The relevant ISSF rule regarding ammunition is a little ambiguous. It states;

no internal changes may be made which will give an extra or special dispersion effect, such as the inverse loading of components, crossing devices, etc

As you are suggesting that you are mixing shot sizes to gain a special dispersion effect then I would think you may be breaking the rules. Secondly if you are using an American or European shot size number 6 then its diametre is 2.79mm which is well above the maximum permissible size of 2.6mm (for the record an English number 6 is permissible at 2.59mm).

The reality is that if you cut open most shot shells you will find a “mix” of types already existing. You may get a shock when you carefully inspect the exact size of the shot you are using as very few target shot shells can boast perfect shot uniformity across three hundred or so pellets.

Let us put all that aside and assume that your “mixed” shot load is legal the question remains does it help? The debate about shot string has been going on for years. American author Bob Brister proved its existence decades ago with some simple experiments in his book “Shotgunning The Art and Science”, but there is still substantial debate whether it is an asset or liability. For years I have heard shooters state they like to use tighter chokes because they gain a longer shot string. This is in fact a myth as shot strings will occur to a degree in all choke sizes, but they are more prevalent in open or cylinder chokes. The reality is that in a perfect world you would try and have all of your pellets arrive at the targets breaking point at exactly the same time in a perfect uniform pattern. This is impossible due to a variety of reasons with the biggest factor being air resistance with the shot pellets at the front of the shot column “sheltering” the shot at the rear of the column thus forcing the shot to travel at slightly different speeds and arriving at the target at different times.

I have no evidence to suggest that a greater mix of shot would do anything but make a longer shot column as the larger shot should obviously react to the air differently than smaller shot, but in all honesty I can’t see this as being something that you would want happening to produce better scores.

Article 8 – 2011

Question: I was recently acquired my late father’s Remington 28 gauge under and over which I learnt to shoot with a few years ago. My brother in law is a very accomplished clay target shooter specializing in trap and skeet, but he tells me that my new shotgun won’t be good enough for competition shooting. It is a beautiful gun and I love shooting it, but is there any reason why a 28 gauge shotgun isn’t suitable?

Paul Grech, Camden NSW

Answer: There is no reason why the shotgun isn’t suitable, but is it adequate should be the question? The 28 gauge has its own event in Skeet events particularly in the United States where scores of 100 straight are quite common. Indeed my wife Lauryn has shot many perfect scores with hers, but Skeet targets are generally shot at no more than 25 metres from the shooter with many shots much closer. Hence lays the problem. Even with the tightest chokes and maximum shot payloads you will start to get great holes in your shot pattern at distances of 30 metres or more so the smaller sub gauges such as 28 and .410 never show their faces in other form of clay target competitions other than Skeet. I know many shooters that enjoy their light weight 28 gauges for hunting, but mainly for close range shots such as those found when shooting quail. I have seen some shooters try and shoot Trap for fun with the smaller gauges and whilst some reasonable scores are obtained I have never seen the same standard reached or even clays “smoked” as you obtain with 28 gram shells through a 12 gauge shotgun.

In short, if distance is your enemy and you have a choice then go for a bigger gauge.

Question: I notice on your shotgun that sometimes you use a choke that extends beyond your barrel and then sometimes you use a choke that is hidden inside the barrel. Is there a difference?

Izmir Singh, New Delhi INDIA

Answer: No Izmir the chokes you are referring to are Beretta’s screw in extendable optima chokes. The only difference between these chokes and the “hidden” chokes are the fact that the extendable ones can be taken out quickly by hand. These chokes are very popular with Sporting Clay shooters that quickly want to change chokes to handle a vastly different target that may have had on the previous stand. Both the internal and external choke perform the same. I often the extendable choke for no other reason than they are easy to keep clean and lubricated.

Question: My only local shotgun club is open just one day a month, but I go there and shoot nearly every time I can. I am about to register so I can shoot competition. I estimate I am good enough to compete competitively in B Grade. How long do you think it will take me to be good enough to win prizes at National events?

Scotty Douglas, Port Douglas QLD

Answer: I would suggest at your current rate of practice Scotty you will be ready for the 2045 Masters Games. Shooting once a month is not enough. I think you need to change your address and move to a place that lets you train a little more regularly.

Article 7 – 2011

Question: I own a model 56E Beretta shotgun which I use for everything on my rural property. I want to shoot some clays with my children when they get older, but everybody tells me it is too light to shoot clays consistently. It has 28 inch barrels and it does tend to “kick” me a little with recoil. Is there any way to weight this gun up to make it better? I have been told to insert a lead fishing sinker in the stock. Will this help? Would this make it a good shotgun for shooting clay targets?

Ian Williamson, Ascot Vale VIC

Answer: Ian the 28 inch barrel Beretta model 56E was a shotgun that was basically designed for field shooting. It was produced in the 1970’s and was a forerunner to the model 58 and 680 series which were the first of Beretta’s popular mass production competition shotguns. I would think the model 56 weighs marginally over three kilograms which is quite light for any form of competition shotgun. You certainly can weight the stock up with lead and this will no doubt decrease the recoil, but it will also make the barrels feel even lighter than they are already. To balance this out you may then have to add some weight to the barrels to make the gun feel more controllable. This can be easily done by adding a small barrel weight. “Briley” offer a great barrel weight which is basically a thin lead jacket that easily clamps to the underside of the barrel. To balance the gun you must always try to have an equal amount of weight in front of and behind the manufacturers balance point of the gun. Beretta tends to balance their guns at a point just a few millimeters in front of the hinge pin. This balance point is found by simply closing the shotgun and resting it on your index finger.

Once the gun is weighted and balanced again it would be better, but not perfect, for shooting clays. The 28 inch barrel won’t do you too many favours no matter which clay target event you try as the shorter sighting plane offered by these barrels will make accuracy a little harder. If my assumption is correct and it is a field gun equipped with a field stock it will probably have too much “drop” in the height of the stock comb thus making your eyes look too flat along the rib of the barrel. This would be far from ideal for shooting trap targets which are constantly on the rise and a higher comb is far more suitable.

I also would assume that a gun of this vintage is probably still supporting its original manufacturers “fixed” chokes and if it is a field model chokes of improved cylinder ( one quarter) for the bottom barrel and modified (one half) for the top barrel were quite common. Beretta symbolizes this with four stars for one quarter and three stars for half. You will find these marking under the forend stamped on the barrel down near the chamber. Those choke sizes are too tight for skeet and generally considered too open for trap shooting.

If the shotgun is to be used merely to shoot over a portable clay target trap on your farm or the odd round of skeet or sporting clays it is probably a shotgun that is more than adequate and will last long enough for your children to enjoy.

Article 6 – 2011

Question: I have been shooting lately at a farm with some friends on a small portable trap. We have invented a few events that we conduct amongst ourselves shooting clay targets ranging anywhere from 15 metres to about 50 metres. I am getting better except when it is windy. Is there any tricks to shooting in the wind and do you allow for the shot pattern to bend when shooting in a cross wind? I am told a shot pattern can vary by a couple of meters on very windy days.

Jack Cameron, Bendigo VIC

Answer: It is a good question, one also which is hard to answer. Certainly the shot charge will be affected by wind and gravity at longer distances. The smaller shot size you are using will no doubt have vulnerability in the wind than larger ones. (remember shot size 6 is a larger pellet than shot size 9 even though it has a smaller numerical number).

Not long ago I patterned a shotgun at my home club in Werribee. This is a range that is notorious for its difficult wind. After doing a few percentage tests at 13 yards to verify the height of the shot pattern I went back to 40 yards to simply see what effect the wind was having. On this particular day I would guess we had a very strong 70 kmph plus cross wind. Using 24 gram shot size 7 ½ loads I fired what I considered to be a fairly steady shot at the centre of a 1.5 metre wide pattern plate and barely laid one pellet on the entire board. The wind had moved the entire pattern to the left. I repeated this several times for similar results. On most ranges in Australia shot size number 6 is the largest permissible shot allowed with many clubs restricting the use to number 7 as the largest. In Olympic events shot size 7 of 24 grams in payload is the maximum in any event. There is no doubt if I was competing on this particular day then shot size 7 would have given me a small advantage over the 7 ½ pellet due to its slightly heavier weight. In either of the two Olympic clay target trap events the typical maximum distance for the second shot would be around the 32 to 35 yard mark (when talking shot shell patterning “yards” are still the preferred measurement over “metres”).

Having that factual knowledge of how the wind can affect a shot pattern can it be practically applied? I would say in Olympic events where you have tenths of seconds to decide where and when to shoot I would say no. You simply do not have enough time to “trick” your brain into shooting a metre down one side of a target especially when you have trained yourself to build up a sight picture so sub consciously your brain telling is telling you to pull the trigger at a certain point near the target.

On your farm however if you a shooting a lobbying target which will be shot at 55 yards and you have the luxury of being able to track or “rifle” the shot for several seconds prior to pulling the trigger then I have no doubt you would be able to “bend” the shot pattern in the right direction with a little practice. I guess this is somewhat similar to what full bore rifle shooters have to do regularly at 1000 yards in a Queens Prize competition.

About the only thing that I do in the wind which I have found helps is to wide your stance slightly to try and gain a more stable base to hold yourself a little steadier whilst your waiting for the target to appear.

Article 5 – 2011

Question: I have purchased a second hand trap gun which I am told is about 20 years old. Being reasonably new to the sport of clay target shooting I am a little confused about all the numbers and symbols on the barrel under the for end. Can you shed some light on this for me?

Eric Fontanna, Springvale VIC

Answer: Eric you haven’t told me what manufacturer your shotgun was made by, but I will give you some general details on what you will find under the for end on an Italian shotgun and most European brands.

You will see a number that reads “KG1.55” for example. This refers to the net barrel weight. For a typical trap barrel it can vary all the way from 1.45 kg up to 1.8kg depending on the length and rib configuration. Most 75 cm barrels with a standard height rib range from 1.5 kg to 1.6 kg.

There will be a figure with the numbers 18.4 for example. This refers to the barrel bore diameter. This can vary anywhere from 18.3mm up to 18.7mm on most Italian shotguns with 18.4 being the most popular over the past fifty years, but an American trend of having “over bored” barrel sizes showing some popularity in trap shooting.

You may see some small circles just in front of the ejectors on a twenty year old trap gun. On the top barrel a solitary circle will mean its is choked “full” and two circles on the bottom barrel will mean a three quarter choke or “improved modified” as it is commonly called. Some trap guns are made with a half choke or “modified” in the bottom barrel which is represented by 3 circles. Four circles is a quarter choke, but are never standard in any trap barrel. Later model barrels will simply print the letter “F” “IM” or “M” on the top barrel.

The only other important number on your barrel should be the stamp which signifies the length of the chamber. Most trap barrels will have “CAM 70” written on it which details the maximum length of the cartridge to be loaded in it, but there are quite a few which will read “CAM 76” which means it can take a 76mm or 3” magnum type shot shell. ALWAYS check this before you attempt to load a high performance hunting type 3” shot shell in any competition barrel. Competition shot shells are typically 70mm or 2 ¾”.

Under the bottom of the breach you may see certain symbols that relate purely to the proof testing of the gun at the time of manufacturing and on Beretta shotguns a couple of capital letters enclosed in a small square box which is a symbol which provides the code for the year of production. Above this row should be a 6 or 7 number which is the serial registration number of the shot gun itself. Check to see it matches the number under the top lever if it’s a Beretta to check it’s the same. Recently, with the help of the local police firearms officer, I strangely found one in my gun collection that was different.

I hope all this helps you out Eric. It is always useful to know.

Article 4 – 2011

Question: I bought a second hand Kemen shotgun late last year mainly to shoot Sporting Clays with. It has a reasonably light barrel of 1.45kg and the barrel has a larger, than what I thought was normal, bore size of 18.7mm. Since I have changed to this new shotgun I am experiencing some problems with my shot shells. I have been reloading ammunition all my life and feel I am fairly proficient at this. About one in every fifty shells seems to go off very lightly. I have discussed this with a few other shooters and some of them think that because of the over sized bore in my new shotgun the wads that I am using in my reloads may not be sealing correctly inside the barrel. I have been using Winchester wads all my life and still have many thousands left so I am keen to seek your advice before I purchase any more.

Bruce Henderson, Fremantle WA

Answer: Bruce your bore size of 18.7 is really not that large. It is larger than many Italian shotguns which traditionally produced barrels of around 18.4mm, but these days barrels bore sizes of up to 18.7mm are not uncommon for most manufacturers especially those which are produced for the American trap shooting market. What bore size is best for each clay target discipline is another debatable topic altogether. In any case I very much doubt your wad sealing problem is in any way related to the bore diameter of your barrel. There are 12 gauge custom barrels in the USA which have been over bored way larger than yours and do not experience any wad “sealing” problems that I am aware of.

I will make the assumption that the cases you are reloading are suitable for this purpose and you are loading a recommended safe load as suggested by the powder manufacturer. I would then suggest what you are experiencing is a small amount of powder seating itself between the wall of the case and the wad thus not creating a proper seal inside the shot shell. This maybe happening when you are placing the wad down upon the powder and for some reason you are damaging the side wall of the wad thus allowing an improper pressure seal. The only other explanation I can think of is simply the cases you are using have been reloaded too many times and the plastic is wearing thin and it is time to throw them away.

Question: I feel as though my triggers in my Browning are experiencing a little bit of “creep”. Is there a gun grease you recommend to use on the trigger mechanism to help smooth them out?

Tim Nettlefold, Burwood VIC

Answer: I would never use any grease on the trigger mechanism Tim. If they need cleaning use a degreaser or even petrol then blow the mechanism clean if you have an air compressor. If the triggers are crafted properly they should have a clean sharp edge against the sears. There will always be a little creep in nearly any shotgun trigger. This is normal and is not a problem. Use a good quality spray on gun oil if you wish, but only lightly. If you still feel there is too much movement in the trigger before it engages then I feel it’s time to visit a gunsmith to file the edges sharp again. This is a relatively common problem and easy to fix.

Article 3 – 2011

Question: I recently went to a clay target range in Brisbane and shot a trap competition over two different fields. I was astounded how much faster the targets were being thrown from the target machine on one ground as opposed to the other. I asked the man in charge and he said the targets were set the same and I was wrong. There were no distance markers to verify this as the range shoots over a valley. I doubt whether I will go back to the club again as it upset me so much. I suggested that the club should invest in a radar gun and was told this method was not legal to set targets. Is this correct?

Answer: I am not sure which type of trap event you participated in, but regardless currently as the rules stand in both Australian Clay Target Association (ACTA) rules on their version of trap (DTL) and also the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) rules on Olympic Trap, the use of a radar gun is not the required method of setting the distance of clay targets. The ACTA throws their trap targets 46 metres and the ISSF throw theirs to 76 metres. There is no mention in either rulebook of a recommended speed. Both bodies state that the targets are to be set in “still” weather conditions and be simply thrown to a distance marker after passing through a prescribed height measured 10 metres from the front edge of the trap house.

“Still” weather conditions on some ranges is a near impossibility at certain times of the year, and as you have found, having flat ground to physically place a distance marker can be difficult if the terrain slopes away in front of the trap. It can be very frustrating watching officials trying to throw targets to the distance peg whilst a raging headwind is blowing. In these changing times where technology is being widely used to make competitions in other sporting events such as cricket, football and tennis more equitable I believe it will only be a matter of time before common sense prevails and the rules in all clay target shooting disciplines are changed to incorporate the use of radar checks on targets to enhance the fairness of competition.

Personally, when I train I always set the targets by speed first and if the weather permits I then check them for distance.

If you are interested then the following target speeds are reasonably accurate when the target is measured as soon as possible from the trajectory of the throwing arm (hence measured inside the trap house). For DTL the target is 72 kmph leaving the throwing arm and for Olympic Trap the target generally varies between 100 kmph to 105 kmph depending on the prescribed height of the target. It takes a little more spring tension to launch the target 76 metres on a high 3.5 metre or a flat 1.5 metre target than it does a medium trajectory 2.5 metre height target. I would stress these speeds are a guide only and should be calibrated on each individual range and brand of trap machine as different machines, different clay targets and even air humidity and altitude can cause slightly varying speeds in relation to distance.

Article 2 – 2011

Question: I read with great interest your negative comments involving the use of Sports Psychologists in the December edition of Australian Shooter. With just about every major Olympic Sport in Australia employing the use of a full time Psychologist as part of their team I wonder if you would like to re think your approach to an obvious oversight.

Donald Fitzgerald, Hawthorn VIC

Answer: First of all Donald very few Olympic Sporting Teams have a full time Sports Psychologist on their books due to nothing more than the financial cost of this luxury. I would suggest of the thirty one Olympic Sports there would not be more than four or five teams with a totally employed Psychologist.

My current response to the question asked of me late last year about the use of a Psychologist to help performance remains the same. It is a very individual and personal relationship that needs to be formed before, from my own experience and observations, the prolonged use of a Sports Psychologist can be given the credit for a competitor improving their performance. It has never helped me personally, but that does not mean it’s not worth trying if you have the time and money.

I am a great believer in quality training and exposure to lots of competition as the first steps to improve performances, but in a similar vein, I recently had some hilarious experiences with some shooters that turned up at some competitions wearing a new gimmick in sport called “Power Bands”. These rubber wrist bracelets were promoted by very aggressive marketers who paid some high profile sports people to suggest amongst other ridiculous claims that the bands will “increase strength, balance” and of all things “inner core stability” whatever on earth that means? Some of those shooters wearing them were reasonably intelligent people and all of a sudden they believed when they put on this piece of rubber on their wrist they were somehow going to hit better scores. It was with no great surprise that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced in December that the bracelet was a sham and ordered the marketers to admit that what they claiming were completely wrong, misleading and on top of this had to offer a full refund to anyone that bought these items (some consumers paid up to $85 each for them).

I can only imagine the embarrassment that these shooters felt, who previously claimed very vocally that these wrist bands were working miracles that Saint Mary MacKillop would have been proud of, when all of a sudden the wristlet was exposed as a useless hoax. As a form of unique punishment everyone who swore these rubber bands worked will now have to keep wearing them on their wrists for the rest of their lives due to the ridiculing they will now face if they take them off even though they now know they are no more than a bad fashion accessory. Interestingly very few of those wearing the bands showed any significant improvement to their scores, but the power of belief or what is often referred to as the “Placebo effect” was, in these shooters eyes, was having the desired effect. That is my point with Sports Psychologists. They try to install the power of belief then if you can be totally consumed by what they say, which is usually just promoting a belief in yourself, then go for it. Positive belief is a major component of success and it can be far better installed through a Sports Psychologist than a piece of rubber around your wrist.

Unfortunately the ACCC’s decision put paid to an idea I gave recently to the CEO of Australian Shooting, Nick Sullivan. I suggested we produce an AISL approved wristband, pay Michael Diamond a few grand to wear it and sit back and enjoy the profits generated from all those gullible people out there willing to try just about anything to improve except hard work.

Above all else my simple advice to better scores remains this. If the clay target is going right then shoot to the right of it. Do the opposite if it is going left!

Article 1 – 2011

Question: I recently watched an episode of “Mythbusters” where they tried to blow apart a shotgun barrel up by obstructing the end of it with different items. In the end they virtually had to weld the end of the barrel shut to force a major explosion. I have often been told that if a wad gets stuck in your barrel it is dangerous to shoot another round behind it to try and blow the old wad out, but after watching this TV show I am thinking that it is safe to try and shoot an obstruction in the barrel out. What are your thoughts?

Answer: If this wasn’t a serious problem I may consider this to be the most absurd question I have ever been asked, but the reality is I did see the TV episode in question and I still cringe when I think of the negligent message that this experiment has sent to shooters the world over. The simple answer is NEVER fire a shot shell, rifle or pistol round through a barrel that is constricted or damaged in any way. The injury and potential loss of life for yourself and anyone standing near you is a very real threat with thousands of documented accidents on record.

Question: I have recently bought a second hand 75 cm barrel Perazzi MX8 Trap gun. The gun itself feels quite well balanced and overall I am quite happy with it except for the pad on the stock. It has a quite prominent curved pad and it doesn’t seem right as it tends to dig into me and leaves a red mark after even the shortest amount of shooting. Also my second shot when I need it seems erratic. I am not sure if this is the original kick pad, but I am thinking of changing it to a flatter one. Is this the right idea?

Barry O’Donnell Southport QLD

Answer: I am pretty confidant to assume the current curved recoil pad on your shotgun that you described is not the original Barry. Most Italian under and over shotguns are built with a fairly straight pad fitted as standard. This is not by coincidence, but by choice. Generally Italian shotguns of this barrel length are designed for the discipline of Olympic Trap. This event features very fast targets with a high reliance on a fast reacting and accurate second shot. A flat recoil pad allows the shooter to place the butt of the gun snuggly on the upper part of the breast bone allowing the competitor to slightly lean “over” the top of the gun with the upper part of the body. This allows for both smooth and fast swinging of the entire body along the targets flight path. By placing the gun in this position it also allows the shooters to easily align the master eye directly over the top of the barrel. Alternatively a curved pad promotes the shooter to place the butt of the gun on the upper part of the shoulder or arm. The curved part of the pad will fit snuggly into this position, but generally is not considered ideal for any discipline where a quick reacting second shot is needed.

Curved recoil pads are very popular in the American Trapshooting disciplines where most events are “single shot” only and a second shot is not needed.

In answering your question I would suggest trying a straight pad or one with a minimal amount of curve. This will no doubt stop the gun scarring you and should improve your second barrel hits.

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