CC image from Wikipedia
I could tell you all about foot position and hold points and pre-shot routines, but one of the simplest trap shooting tips I know is this: If you want to shoot good scores at trap, you need a trap gun. I have been reminded of this throughout our high school trap season this spring. We have a lot of new kids this year and they all show up at practice with field guns of one kind or another. Some of them struggle and try different guns. And when they pick up my Browning BT-100 or my 1100 Trap, all of a sudden they can’t miss.
One of the most extreme examples was the latest. We have a girl who has shot very little and is trying trap to see if she likes it. She has been bringing her brother’s Mossberg 500 youth gun to practice. It’s very light at about 6 pounds, has a 22-inch barrel and a short stock. She is small, inexperienced, and not that strong, so it would seem to make sense for her to use a little gun.
The other day right after she shot yet another 5×25 with the youth pump gun, I asked her if she would like to try my Browning. It weighs a good 8 ½ pounds, has a full-size stock and a 34-inch barrel. I gave her six shells and she crushed five targets. Her mom and dad were watching, and I suspect she has a new gun in her future.
Trap guns are long, heavy, and move steadily and smoothly. More important, trap guns are stocked straighter than field guns so they shoot a little high, allowing you to “float” the target over the barrel instead of blotting it out. That’s critical because it’s a lot easier to shoot what you can see, and when you can see the target you aren’t tempted to lift your head, which invariably means a miss over the top.
One reason field guns have a lot more drop in their stocks than trap guns is because no one cheeks their gun as tightly in the field as they do on the trap line. When you squish your face all the way down on a field stock you can’t see the bird very well and that’s where a lot of the problems arise.
I bring this up now because summer leagues will start up soon, and a lot of hunters shoot league with their duck guns for off-season fun and practice. If you just want to get in some practice with your hunting gun, that’s fine. If you want to do better, at least find a way to raise the comb of your gun a little (using moleskin or a lace-on cheek pad). If you shoot an 870/1100/11-87, look into one of the excellent Jack West adjustable stocks for it. Or, quit fooling around and buy yourself a trap gun. Your scores will go up.*
*Please spare me your “We took our Mossbergs to the club and beat those snobby guys with high dollar guns and they were pissed off” stories. For one thing, their attitude had nothing to do with you. Trapshooters always look annoyed. For another, yes, you may have beaten them with your Mossbergs, but you would have beaten them by more if you were shooting trap guns.