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Need help shooting Trap with a Side-by-Side


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I know… if you just read the title of this post you are wondering why I would shoot trap with a side-by-side.

 

Background info:

I love hunting upland game birds and do this a lot. Depending upon the circumstances and the bird, I use either a two-barrel gun (usually a side-by-side) or an autoloader (my favorite for now is the Benelli Montefeltro, but planning to add a Vinci). When shooting trap or skeet, I use either a long-barreled and heavy Beretta O/U or a Benelli autoloader. I’m certainly not a great shot, but I score 23-25 (approximately 96 per 100) targets with occasional (4 or less rounds per week) shooting.

 

So, here’s the deal:

My dad (he’s 89 years old but in great shape… he still shoots trap and skeet very well… as good or better than I do) just purchased a very expensive 12 gauge S/S (modified/full) that he acquired (I’m certain) mainly to leave to me in his will. He said as much.

 

So, here’s the problem:

My 89 year-old dad is very disappointed with my scores (21 hits/4 misses) shooting the gun on trap. I keep telling him that there is no problem with the gun (it fits me perfectly), but it’s not the best choice for trap. The gun weighs just over 6 lbs. (so it is very light-weight for trap shooting… another disadvantage).

 

And… my problem hitting trap targets with a side-by-side:

I’m having an awful time with a S/S on Trap Station 1 with targets going hard left.

 

On Trap Station 1, I hold on the left side of the house, and I see the target immediately, but when the target is going hard-left, and as I swing over and up on the target, the left barrel blocks my view and I lose the target. Any attempt to regain the lost target most certainly results in a miss.

 

Before now, I have never shot trap using a S/S gun. I have no problem hitting pheasants with a S/S. I suppose it’s simply that a pheasant is a larger target that remains acquired with a side-by-side that might block-out a smaller target (i.e., clay pigeon).

_____________________________

So…

 

Any tips from the knowledgeable readers here are greatly appreciated. Of course I’m not planning to shoot trap with a S/S, but improving my score while Dad is watching would make him feel better about the expensive gun he purchased.

 

How can I improve hits on trap targets going hard left when I am shooting on Station #1.

 

Thanks for help,

 

--Spike

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How can I improve hits on trap targets going hard left when I am shooting on Station #1.

 

Thanks for help,

 

--Spike

 

Not to sound flip but: more practice on that station with that gun?

I'm not a trap shooter but I shoot skeet regularly. When I first started, I was frustrated at not hitting targets consistently at certain stations when running through a round. I started getting to the range early before a lot of folks showed up and shot a whole round at one station where I had a problem. It wouldn't have mattered if I had a single barrel Stevens break-open or a $10K Italian job. High-end equipment is no substitute for trigger time.

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It appears that your not swinging through the target, but covering the target up with the barrel and pulling the trigger. So your shooting behind the target. You have to swing through the target to brake it, you juust have to swing a little harder and longer until the target reappears on the right side of the right barrel. When you break 25 straight, let me know.

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It appears that your not swinging through the target, but covering the target up with the barrel and pulling the trigger. So your shooting behind the target. You have to swing through the target to brake it, you juust have to swing a little harder and longer until the target reappears on the right side of the right barrel. When you break 25 straight, let me know.

 

Keep your head down and swing thru...it does work. I busted my first ever 50 straight in my trap league last nite...shooting my HK/Benelli SBE.

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Thanks guys. The suggestion that I shoot a few rounds on just station 1 and 2 is probably the solution. I don’t have any problem on Station 1 or 2 with my O/U or Benelli so it’s the S/S that is throwing me off.

 

And than again… I probably should leave the S/S home when shooting trap, and use the double for hunting.

 

--Spike

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A few suggestions (I sometimes suffer from the same problem, btw, and I am an "A" Class ATA shooter, 95.8 average in singles last year, for what that's worth.)

 

I will assume you are a right-handed shooter. Do you shoot both eyes open, or one eye closed? Some of my advice may be dependent on that.

 

Foot position. When I "address" station 1, my feet are "almost, but not quite" squared up with the front of the station, with my belly button facing, approximately, the right-front corner of the trap house. This allows you to swing to a hard left without going "over center" and twisting over your left foot.

 

Make sure your weight distribution is noticeably more on your left foot, and both knees are bent slightly. If your weight is "evenly" distributed, a move to a left-rising target can cause your weight distribution to move to your right foot, which can cause your right shoulder to drop, which may cause your move to the target to go high. This is a personal preference thing, but I'm about 65-75% on my left foot, and I try to pivot over the balls of my left foot (I do this at all trap stations, at skeet, and at sporting clays, its just my style.) This allows me to pivot 90 degrees or so while keeping my shoulders level. May or may not work for you.

 

Try "cheating" a little more to the left with your starting gun point. At station 1, I point about a foot to the left of the left-front edge of the trap house (seeing a little gap between the house and your bead), and my bead is about level with the top-front of the house. If you shoot one eye closed, keep your starting point even lower, maybe a foot below the top of the house.

 

But DON'T LOOK there! Its hard to describe, but your eyes, just before you call for the target, should not be focused on anything, and but should be looking about a foot above your bead, and about 10 yards out in front of the house. This is called "soft focus." This allows you to see the bird's direction, without seeing it as a "flash of orange." If you focus right at the corner of the house, you're going to see this flash of orange as the target emerges, and your brain will think "oh, sh!t I gotta hurry!" (this is generally true at all stations, btw.) Soft focus allows you to make a smooth, controlled move, instead of jerking and rushing to the target.

 

Follow through! Make sure, after you pull the trigger, that you keep moving that gun, as though you're going to shoot at the target, or a piece of the target, again. You can practice this by forcing yourself to follow a big piece of the broken target all the way to the ground (or the whole thing if you miss.) This practice will also help prevent picking up your head. Picking up your head is another common problem.

 

A SxS offers a few challenges. Lighter, yes. Flatter shooting (trap guns should shoot a little high) so you have to cover the target on straight-aways. The big thing is they block so much of your vision.

 

Possibly, what is happening is your brain, when it loses sight of the target, thinks, "I gotta shoot now!" And you pull the trigger. This is the advantage to a high shooting gun with a tall rib. That is, you never lose sight of the target when you are swinging through it.

 

Good luck. I love SxS guns. Just don't like shooting trap with them.

 

Hope I didn't go overboard with my answer.

 

Tim

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^^ Hi Tim… Your reply provides excellent advice.

 

I am a right-handed shooter, and right eye dominant. I do keep both eyes open (but squinting the left eye just a little).

 

My foot position, weight distribution, and gun position (on the trap house) are as you suggest in your post. You are right-on, and those are the same principles I was taught fifty years ago when I first began shooting trap (and skeet). It’s nice to know in this rapidly changing digital age that some fundamentals remain constant and consistent.

 

Here is a quote from your previous message…

 

“[…] Its hard to describe, but your eyes, just before you call for the target, should not be focused on anything, and but should be looking about a foot above your bead, and about 10 yards out in front of the house. This is called "soft focus." This allows you to see the bird's direction, without seeing it as a "flash of orange." If you focus right at the corner of the house, you're going to see this flash of orange as the target emerges, and your brain will think "oh, sh!t I gotta hurry!" (this is generally true at all stations, btw.) Soft focus allows you to make a smooth, controlled move, instead of jerking and rushing to the target.”

 

…which is wonderful advice that you describe very well.

 

And I think you nailed my problem when you said: “Possibly, what is happening is your brain, when it loses sight of the target, thinks, "I gotta shoot now!" And you pull the trigger.”

 

I believe that is exactly what is happening. I swing through the target, but suddenly the left barrel blocks the hard left target on Station 1. I lose sight of the target, and my instinct forces me to “reaquire” the target which results in “peaking” (slowing or almost stopping the gun). I never have the problem with a single-barrel gun or O/U.

 

Thanks for the reply and great help which I appreciate,

 

--Spike

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