Triggers And Stock Length

Dear Technoid,

I recently read Bob Bristers “Shotguning” and he refers to a technique called slapping the trigger as opposed to squeezing. What exactly does this mean?

Also, what is a good trigger poundage for ATA trap?

Where exactly should the trigger contact the trigger finger?

Can length of pull be accurately obtained by the old crook of arm to trigger finger measurement?

Thanks for your time.


Dear C.W.,

That is a lot of questions. You had better pull on your TALL boots.

“Slapping” a trigger may mean different things to different people. I use the technique when shooting looong incomers at sporting clays where the shot is a long time in developing and I am using a sustained lead technique. My finger is resting on the trigger blade and, instead of easing the trigger back, I pull firmly and suddenly. It is actually sort of a yank.

Slapping the trigger can be helpful in these situations because it avoids milking the trigger and riding the bird too long.

For standard American Trap shots, I do not slap the trigger, but tend to apply smooth increasing pressure to the point of trigger release. It just works better for me at that game. There is a different tempo involved in ATA trap and slapping does not work for me there.

Good trigger poundage for ATA trap? I dunno. This is sort of a blondes, brunettes or red heads choice. Everyone has their own opinion and what works for one person might not for another. I tend to like fairly heavy triggers on my guns and set them up at around 4 1/2#. This is probably a touch heavier than the norm, but I have lost far more birds having the gun go off too soon due to a light trigger than I have jerking it due to a heavy one.

That said, I like my triggers to be crisp with no creep at all. To me, lack of trigger creep is far more important than half a pound of pull either way. Any shade tree mechanic can adjust trigger pull weight. It takes a decent gunsmith to cut a crisp trigger.

Where your finger contacts the trigger is personal. For bullseye pistol competition and rifle silhouette, I like the center of the front pad. For shotgun, I prefer the front pad, but over at the joint.

The standard method of measuring length of pull is a bunch of hooey! There, I said it and I am glad. Not only is the crook of arm to trigger not a reliable way to measuring length of pull, but the standard gunsmith’s ruler measurement of trigger to center of butt plate is no good either. Well, it is good for the gunsmith because it is easy to do and repeatable, but it doesn’t have much to do with how the gun fits you.

The problem is always the pistol grip. It is the position of the pistol grip on the stock which really governs stock length, not the position of the trigger. These “adjustable” lengths of pull via moveable triggers are just marketing flak.

Try this. Hold you shotgun in its normal way and mount it a few times to get the feel of it. Now move your right hand (assuming you are a righty) UP a good bit on the pistol grip and mount the gun. Feel longer? Now move your right hand all the way down the pistol grip as far as it can go and mount the gun. The stock will feel shorter. The LOP hasn’t changed, but where you place your hand on the pistol grip has.

The key to obtaining proper stock length is to get the correct distance between your eye glass lens and rearmost part of the thumb when the gun is mounted. Most shooters like around 1 1/2″, but it is personal. Some ATA shooters like Kay Ohye like their glasses touching the back of their thumb joint. The British sporting shooters like quite long stock, more so than the Americans. It is all personal preference, but it all depends more on the placement of the pistol grip and the positioning of the rear hand than it does on the absolute distance between the trigger and the butt plate.

Confused? Me too, but that is the nature of things.

Best Regards,

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

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