The Truth About Light Loads


Appearing on the web is the unrefuted comment, to wit: “Back in the old days of International Trap 1.25oz. loads were allowed and when they went to 1.125 oz. loads to lower the scores nothing happened. Then they went to 1 oz. loads and the scores actually went up. Finally, scores went down a bit with 24 gm (0.875 oz.) loads.”

Being an old International shooter, albeit Skeet wasn’t it?, can you confirm or deny this?


Dear Jay,

I’ve seen this old chestnut kicking around for the past ten years. Guys who can’t take recoil and are looking for some solace for going to a lighter load trot it out all the time.

The bare scores really don’t tell the underlying story here. Olympics occur each four years. Athletes being what they are, the Olympic scores get better just about every Olympiad because the shooters are getting so much better just on skill level. Look at the run, jump, throw events. Records fall every year. If you change shells and yet the scores remain the same, it seems to indicate that the new shell is just as good. As a matter of fact, it really means that the new shell is inferior, because it has stymied the normal progress that the scores make every four years.

The current 24 gram load definitely rocked the boat when it was first introduced. The 24 grams were so tough on the bunker shooters that the distances the targets were thrown in bunker were reduced to allow semi-decent scores. Skeet recovered quicker than trap, perhaps due to the small shell not being such a handicap at close range. The Chinese girl ran all 125 straight for the gold in IntSk in Barcelona in ’92 with 24 gram loads. It was an excellent performance, but you must still remember that the event had been a 200 bird race in the past and has been shortened up to 125 birds. You can’t compare the scores.

I always preferred the larger shells because I shoot gas guns in competition and I think that combination of “all the lead the law allows” and a gas gun gives me an advantage over all those people who are getting the tar beaten out of themselves with O/Us. If they have to go to a lighter and less efficient load to keep their body in one piece, that’s their problem.

I see a lot of people shooting one ounce loads and just loving them. If you keep the speed the same, a one ounce load has about 20% less free recoil than a 1-1/8 oz load. For a lot of people who shoot hard kicking guns, that’s important. BUT, don’t believe the people who say that the 1 oz load is so much more efficient that it puts just as many pellets into the killing circle as the 1-1/8 oz load does. It doesn’t when you use a comparison of two optimally developed loads. The 28 gram load has 12% less pellets and it has a 12% smaller pattern given the same pattern density. Has to be. Got to be. Remember, every 1-1/8oz load has a one ounce load riding on the front end.

I certainly don’t deny that some people shoot higher scores with the light loads, but I think that its for the wrong reason. Many shooters would rather change their shell to a less efficient load than change their shotgun to one that doesn’t kick as much. They might well be able to shoot even higher scores with standard loads and a low recoiling gun. That’s their choice, of course. Personally, I see no reason why you shouldn’t have your cake and eat it too.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC

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