Selecting a Trap Gun for a Youth Shooter - Part 2
8-2-2015 - Chris Robb
Welcome Back. In Part 2 of this series, we'll take a look at what makes up a trap gun. And, we'll talk a little more in-depth about how a trap gun should fit your young shooter.
Anatomy of a Trap Gun
There are certain things that make a trap gun a trap gun. One of the main keys to this is the point of impact (POI). Trap guns are designed to hit a rising target. In order to better accomplish this task, trap guns are equipped with a rib* on the barrel that is not parallel with the barrel. The rear of the rib is higher than the front, causing the gun to shoot high. This prevents the shooter from having to "bury the bird" when they shoot. The sloped rib allows the shooter to shoot the target as the top of the front bead aligns with the bottom of the target.
Next is the stock. Often they will come with a Monte Carlo stock. The Monte Carlo stock will have a raised comb* to place the shooters eyes higher in relation to the rib. This provides the shooter a more unobstructed field of view.
Left, Right, or Neutral
Many gun stocks have "cast". The cast is a slight offset to better accommodate a shooters "shouldering " of the gun. This is called cast. Some guns have inserts that are placed where the stock is mounted to the receiver to adjust the cast of the gun. Other guns may be sold with a set cast for a left or right handed shooter. There are also guns that are neutral cast. In other words, they are not cast for a left or right handed shooter. Make sure you know what you are buying. If you are able, purchase a gun that is cast appropriately for your child. For more information on how to identify the cast of a gun speak with a youth program coach.
When I first started trap shooting I use to make fun of those guys with the high ribs, adjustable combs, and adjustable butt plates. To me their looked like something from a Star Wars movie. I thought to myself, "Does all that stuff help?"
There is no substitute for a proper fitting gun. Gun fit can mean the difference between a good score and a great score. Many shooters will be good shooters without getting a gun fitted to them, but all great shooters will have a fitted gun.
Let's discuss why...
The single most important thing to master in trapshooting is the gun mount. The gun should easily go into place on the shooters shoulder every single time without fail. Any derivation in gun mount can and will result in lost targets.
Trapshooting is about repeatability. Any target that comes out of the house can be hit. If your child has already started her/his journey into trap shooting, they have most likely hit every angle of target thrown at least once. The trick is to consistently hit those targets. Gun fit is not limited to the size of the gun. When determining the fit of the guns stock, there are a number of adjustments to consider.
The first common adjustment is the butt plate. An adjustable butt plate allows the shooter to properly place the gun in the pocket of the shoulder. This improves comfort and reduces "hot spots" or isolated areas of pain that a shooter might experience when the gunstock doesn't "seat" properly. An adjustable butt plate should have adjustments allowing the plate to be adjusted up and down. It should also have the ability to rotate. Systems like the Gracoil system also address recoil reduction and length of pull. This doesn’t mean that you should run out and buy a Gracoil system. A good gunfitter can usually address any recoil or length of issues by adding inexpensive recoil pads and spacers.
After attending fittings with Todd Nelson, The Country Gentleman Gunfitter, I can tell you that as soon as the gun fits your shoulder properly you will not be able to line up the sights on the gun. This leads us to the next common adjustment, the adjustable comb.
The adjustable comb can be raised and lowered and moved right or left to adjust to the shooters face and ensure that each time the shooter mounts the gun they are looking straight down the barrel with the beads perfectly lined up. When combined with an adjustable buttplate the adjustable comb will garner a fit that when shouldered, increases comfort reduces recoil and allows a consistent, repeatable gun mount. These improvements to feel and consistency result in better scores and happier shooters.
In Part 3, we'll finally answer the question that brought you to read this series, "What gun is right for my youth shooter?". Stay tuned...