Rib Confusion

Dear Bruce,

I really look forward to reading your answers.

I shoot a 12 ga. Browning Citori Lightning Sporting Clays with a low rib (28″)in skeet, sporting clays, and hunting. I enjoy shooting this gun and do well. However, when I started shooting trap also I noticed the recoil after 100 plus shots. I bought a Browning Citori Trap Plus, 32″ barrels which I also shoot well. I enjoy the cushioning of the piston in the stock and can shoot this gun all day with no adverse affect from recoil.

My problem is that when I change guns I have trouble adapting to the difference in high vs. low rib, especially when I go from the low rib to the high. I find myself occasionally focusing on the rib/barrel instead of the clay pigeon. This is usually good for dropping at least on bird in a round of 25. If I start to think about not focusing on the rib then I may drop 2-3 birds in a round before relaxing and just shooting naturally.

I have tried to shoot the Trap Plus in skeet and I have trouble hitting the second shot in doubles. I am considering trying to have a low rib put on the Trap Plus but I believe it would be expensive and would ruin the value of the gun. I have considered selling the Trap Plus and buying a 390 with a low rib.

Do you have any suggestions or insights you can share ?

Thank you.


Saginaw, Michigan

Dear R.,

Switching from arched to flat ribs drives me crazy too, but you just have to learn to ignore it. The big advantage of the high rib on the trap gun is that it allows you to see a “normal” figure 8 while still shooting artificially high, as is demanded by American-style trap. If you used a flat rib on that gun, you would have to see a tremendous amount of rib if you continued to shoot that high. Many people find seeing a great deal of rib even more disconcerting that using a high rib gun.

That’s the problem with trap. It has absolutely nothing to do with any other shotgun shooting pursuit. It requires a special gun set up in a special way if you are really going to go at it.

I use a Beretta 303 trap gun with a flat rib for all my clay target shooting. I set the gun up so that when I cheek hard into the bone, I am looking right down the rib. This way, I can never lose the rib no matter how I cheek the gun. When I shoot with normal cheek pressure, I get a nice figure 8 sight picture with the front and middle bead. The sight picture works perfectly for me at sporting clays, skeet, FITASC, wobble (ISU) trap and International Skeet. For American-style trap, I suppose I should really set the gun up to shoot a bit higher to be ideal. As it is, I have to cover the bird and this is never ideal.

In ATA trap, I would prefer to just be able to touch the bottom of the bird so that it always remains visible. If I set my gun up that way, it would not be suitable for any of the other sports. I don’t shoot enough ATA trap to make it worth bothering with a dedicated trap gun. If I did, I would probably set up a Beretta A400 Trap gun with a stepped rib and keep it as a dedicated trap gun.

I don’t really have any advice to give you. Dealing with ribs is sort of like the old alchemist’s recipe for turning lead into gold: “Stir the pot of melting lead and don’t think of the word “gold”.” It’s all in the head. Easy to say, hard to do.

Don’t buy any new guns or cut off any ribs. Borrow. That is cheaper and will let you try out more guns.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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