Trap/Sporting Gun Setup


Dear Bruce:

Well now I will add cut fingers to Breakfree and beer can metal as things that remind me of the Technoid. I have been shooting a Remington 11-87 trap gun for ATA. I had started off shooting ATA with the 11-87 SCNP and did well, but all of the “experts” told me I would do better with a “real trap” gun, so I bought the 11-87 trap, mostly because I had all of these spare parts and knew how to fix it!

I did shoot a little bit better but I often felt it had more to do with confidence and not being self conscious about being the only person at an ATA shoot without a trap gun (I also stopped bouncing shell casings off of the guy next to me).

I have been putting a lot of spare parts into the gun, and have come to like the idea of being self sufficient when it came to gun repair. I will keep on shooting the 11-87’s for awhile, but I really like the idea of shooting everything with the same gun,. and that is the way I am going to go.

Do you think an adjustable stock is a good idea? Could I raise it up an 1/8 inch or so for trap and then lower back down for sporting clays? Or could I set the gun up so that when I shoot the gun with my head more erect I see the front and middle beads in a figure 8 for trap (a higher shooting gun), and then lean into the gun more so that the middle bead lines up directly behind the front bead for a flatter shooting gun? Or would I be better off shooting the same way and covering my trap targets or floating my sporting clays targets above the barrel?

Or am I really going to screw up my shooting all together?

Thanks Again

Pete (Sometimes right but always in doubt!)

Dear Pete,

I’ve never been a fan of adjusting stocks up and down when switching from game to game. It sounds great in theory, but few people can do this successfully because the sight picture changes even though the gun feels the same. It confuses most people’s sensory input. It’s sort of like eating ice cream and Jalapenos together.

I don’t think that you will ever successfully learn to shoot different games by holding your head in a different position. That one would be a real problem for me. I spend so much time trying to get my gun mount consistent that I’d go looney thinking to myself “Well, this is sporting clays, so I had better push my head down a bit more to see less rib so that I don’t shoot quite as high.” Maybe someone with more mental control than I have could do it, but I can’t even control myself when I go through the cookie aisle at the supermarket.

For me, what works best is to simply set the gun up for a nice “average” point of impact, say 50/50 or 55/45 and learn to cover your birds at trap. I’ve found that a 50/50 gun works fine for ATA trap once you get used to covering the birds. It may not be absolutely ideal for an ATA trap professional, but it is quite serviceable for even a fairly dedicated weekend warrior. 50/50 is ideal for sporting clays as at least half your targets will be droppers. Works fine for skeet too.

As to the difference in balance between a trap gun and a sporting gun, I’ve always preferred the feel of a neutral trap gun for all the sports. I shoot every possible clay target game with either a 30″ Beretta 303 trap gun (lengthened and very slightly shim-lowered stock) or a 30″ FN O/U Super Trap #6 with a lengthened trap stock of standard height. With both guns I see a standard figure 8 with the beads just touching. My guns shoot 50/50 for me with this sight picture. I absolutely hate, loathe and despise sporting clays guns with stepped ribs (first run Beretta 390s, Krieghoff K-80s, etc) because they set up to shoot on or slightly high when you look flat down the rib. If your gun is set up so that you look flat down the rib, any slight dropping of the head causes your eye to go below the line of the rib and you go “blind”. That’s why set up all my guns to see just a little bit of rib. If I push in a touch farther, the worst case I get is to go flat on the rib. I never can go below the rib and lose it entirely.

I don’t really know why my guns shoot flat for me with a figure 8 sight picture. You would think that they would shoot a little high, but they don’t. I’m sure that there is some great cosmic truth behind all this, but I’ve never bothered with it. I just set up ALL my hunting and target guns with the same sight picture and it works for me. I do change the length depending on the application (you don’t want a grouse gun as long as a trap gun) and I do set up my SxS guns a touch higher due to the barrel flip of a SxS, but that’s about it. I’m a KISS boy.

Bottom line: set your gun up 50/50 and learn where to hold on trap. Everything else will take care of itself.

As to the 11-87s, they are nice, soft shooting, well balanced guns and more reliable than most people give them credit for. You are learning the tricks and shouldn’t have too much trouble until they really start to age. By then they won’t owe you anything. Make sure to put a fresh mainspring in them every 10,000 rounds or even less. It’s cheap and easy to do and will extend their life a great deal.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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