Precise Barrel Length / Flinch

Dear Technoid,

My earlier question concerning barrel length and my Browning Ultra Golden Clays produced such a sage response that I am going to impose and ask a couple more. I appreciate your candor and in today’s world of “I have a vested interest so the answer is Yes” this is a rare bird.

Question One: I was at the range and a AA shooter made the statement that longer barrel length meant less target lead. The discussion led to an overall belief that a 28″ gun needs lots more lead on a target than a 32″. I disagree, but wanted your comments.

Question Two: I have developed what I consider to be a flinch on certain types of targets (or so it seems). If it is a crosser and I track/ride the target I will sometimes lunge just before pulling the trigger. My instructor says it is not a flinch, but that I am reacting to being behind the target and lunging. This may be so, but I flinched/lunged so badly last weekend I did not even pull the trigger. This is costing me four or five targets per round and some days are worse than others. My shooting partners say it appears to be a flinch. I am not aware of any recoil and use a target load of 1150 fps. Any advice will be appreciated. I hate to give up an enjoyable hobby through frustration.


Dear Bob,

I think that your AA shooter was correct. A shorter barrel requires a longer PERCEIVED lead. Actual lead on a bird remains the same regardless of the barrel length involved, but we both know that it is what you see that counts.

Shooters often refer to longer barrels as giving more PRECISE lead feedback. What they are really saying is that the longer barrel requires less perceived lead so it permits slightly finer tuning.

I am not entirely sure that a 28″ barrel needs “lots” more lead than a 32″ one, but there will be a slight difference in the lead that most people see.

Bottom line, though, is what you get used to. Just as long as your are used to your particular barrel length and what lead it takes to break a target, the barrel length really becomes more a question of barrel weight preference (long ones weigh more than short ones).

I shoot a 30″ semi-auto for sporting clays, trap and skeet.. Adding in the auto’s extra 3.5″ of receiver, I am shooting the equivalent of a 33.5″ barreled O/U. I find it to be noticeably more precise on those looooong crossers than my 30″ barreled FN O/U. Then again, some of that may be the single barrel sight picture vs the O/U barrel sight picture.

Question 2: Flinch or lurch? I don’t know where you shoot your clays, but wherever it is, it is a long way from where I can see you. This is the kind of thing that one really cannot analyse over the ether.

One thing that you might consider is foot position. Over the years I have observed many people pull the gun off their shoulder as they fired just because they ran out of swing due to poorly placed feet. Set your foot position up for maximum comfort at the point where you will actually break the bird and then pivot back to your starting point and call for the target. The key is to have your feet right where you fire, not where you call.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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