Sporting Clays and low gun


January 21, 2003, 08:18 PM
I had always thought that in sporting clays that you start from an unmounted position. This was because in hunting you never pre-mount a gun. I believed this was a rule.

I then checked the rules from the NSCA and it says:


4. Shotgun Mount and Position—The shooter may start
with a low gun or a pre-mounted gun when calling for
the target.

Has this always been the case?

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Will Fennell
January 21, 2003, 09:23 PM
The gunmount rule was changed about 4-5 years ago. It is now a "free gun mount" rule. You can start with the gun mounted, or off the shoulder, whichever you want.

Basically the rule was changed becasue enforcing the old rules was getting to be difficult.

In FITASC, which is what most of the world shoots in place of "English Sporting", which is shoot perdominately in the US and UK, there is a very specific gun mount rule. In FITASC, the gun butt must be below a line marked on the shooters chest 9.85"[25cm] below the top of the shooter's shoulder. In FITASC, you typically have much better trained Ref's than in most Sporting tournaments, so there is less trouble enforcing rules.

Back to pre-mounted or off the shoulder positions to call for the target........most shooters find out that few target presentations are best attempted withthe gun pre-mounted[100,000's trapshooters can't be wrong]. Generally, if the target is launched from somewhre infront of the shooter, and going AWAY from the shooter, pre mounted is better. If the target is coming from behind the shooter, coming at the shooter, or a crossing target, a dismounted is best.

I know this forum seems to be focused mainly on self defense and the "practical applications" of shotguns, which I am keenly interested in myself, but if anyone out there is interested in sportingclays, and needs help getting started, give me a shout. I play the game pretty hard, and shoot quite a few registered targets a year[7200 last year], if I can be a help, I'll be glad to.

Will Fennell

January 21, 2003, 10:18 PM
Wow 7200! Well compared to you I'm a raw amateur...I've shot 6 rounds of sporting clays in the last year. I've found it incredibly fun but a bit expensive at least compared to trap or skeet.

Since we have an expert here, I'm curious what do you do? Mostly mounted or unmounted?

What is the most important thing to do in your opinion (Other than practice) to improve? I shoot in mid 60's, what could I do to get in the 70's or 80's?

P.S. I like your knives

Will Fennell
January 21, 2003, 11:24 PM
Mainly Dismounted, I said before, the only time that I feel that it is best to pre mount the gun is on trap type shots, where the trap is out infront of the shooter,a nd the target is more or less going away. The rest of the time, a dismounted gun is an advantage because you have a much better veiw of the target, so as to pick it up and judge the speed, distance and angle.

THE most important thing you can do to get better is get some help:) First, have a knowledgeable person check your gunfit. Gunfit is VERY important for several reasons. First, shooting aerial targets with a shotgun is a game of pointing, not aiming, we have to trust that the gun is pointing where our eyes are looking. For that to happen, the gun has to "fit", and naturally point where the shooter looks without having to verify anything by looking at the have no time for looking at the gun when the bird is in the air! Secondly, the most BASIC instruction in the early part of your shotgunning career will pay BIG dividens in the long run. Basic instruction will get you off on a good start, and keep you from starting bad, hard to break habits. TRust me on this! I was up to AA class before I took my first lesson, and it took almost a year to correct some very basic bad habits. Basic instruction isn't that expensive, and if you are looking for an instructor in your area and can't find one, let me know and I can help.

One laast thing about initial basic instruction, it will do 1 more VERY important thing for you.....the game will be ALOT MORE FUN. Becasue the instructor gets you mounting the gun correctly and makes sure it will hurt you ALOT less:cool: Also, breaking more targets is always good for the ego;)

Ok, now you're thinking, Will is suggesting things that cost $$$$ in a game that already cost $$$$$...well you asked me what would help the most:rolleyes: Now here are some cheap tips.....

Dry gunmounts at home. Take your shotgun.....make sure it is unloaded and there is no ammo in the room. Then make sure it is unloaded again! OK, now, infront of a mirror[preferably full lenght], address your reflection in the mirror, and mount the gun to[at] your master eye, as if you are going to shoot your eye in the mirror. Your gun should slide into your shoulder without the muzzle dipping......most of the force of the mount needs to come from your lead hand[the one on the forend]. Nice and smooth, it be like you are bayoneting your eye in the mirror...with the gun coming fully into yoru shoulder.

Now repeat 100 times per night, every night. This will give you a smooth consistant gunmount, that will happen without you even thinking about it.

Next, and maybe this should have been first, you need to understand that part about pointing the gun, not aiming? Well, this is all done with hand to eye coordination......your hands take the gun to where they are looking. So, unlike pistol shooting, where all of our sharp focus is on the front sight of the pistol and the target is "fuzzy", with aerial targets and shotguns, our sharp focus is on the TARGET, and the barrel[sight] is fuzzy. Think about it, when you hit a baseball, you don't look at the bat? You look for the stitches on the ball. When I shoot a claytarget, I'm focusing on the rings of the target...the more detail you can descern, the better. If you stop trusting your eyes and hands and look at the bead on the barrel to "check" your sight picture, your barrel stops[or at least slows down] and you miss behind. Period.

Remember your dad/grandad, uncle, whatever telling you to keep your eye on the bird and not to stop your swing? Well most of the time they never got around to telling you that the two were related. If you take your eye off the bird[clay], and look at the gun, you will stop your swing. I see it everyday that I'm on the range. Don't feel bad, generally when Richard Faulds[the finest sporting shooter in the world right now] misses a target, its because he let his focus drift from the bird to the barrel. It is a VERY hard thing not to do....that is why shooting a shotgun is sooooo much fun.

Damn, I've already typed more than I thought I would. Some of this is not exactly in the order I should have presented it in, but it anything isn't clear, lemme know, and I'll try better.

One last the numbers of targets shot last year. First, 6 rounds is a GREAT start, you are way above the national average[2 rounds]. You are off to a good start, keep the ball rolling. You are right, trap and skeet are generally much cheaper, and there is nothing wrong with using those cheaper targets to practice for sportingclays;)

Second, those 7200 targets I shoot last year.....those were just the registered tournament targets:p I probally shot 6 times that many in practice:rolleyes:

Its a great game full of great people.....maybe I'll meet you on a range someday:)

Dave McCracken
January 22, 2003, 05:16 AM
Thanks for posting that, Will. Sometime, you should try a "Practical" match or two as a break from all that SC. I've found that folks good at one are good at the other.

You saved me some typing, I had planned on starting a thread on dry practice. In addition to what you recommend, I suggest using the straight lines in the room and tracing them with the barrel so to speak.

January 22, 2003, 12:42 PM
Thanks for that those posts Will.


January 22, 2003, 07:11 PM
Thanks for your help Will...Few more questions.

Why does dis-mounting on specifically incoming shots, crossing shots, behind shots help? For crossing shots in skeet is generally done pre-mounted.

Last time I went I decided to not pre-mount and I see what you're saying it gives you better vision etc. But I missed quite a few shots just because I didn't mount correctly or quickly enough.

What i was doing before was to bring the shotgun to my shoulder, but not to my cheek, my head raised up looking for the clay and then snapping up the gun to my cheek and firing. What is the disadvantes to doing it that way since I don't really see many people doing it that way?

Ricky B
January 23, 2003, 01:31 AM
"when Richard Faulds[the finest sporting shooter in the world right now] misses a target, its because he let his focus drift from the bird to the barrel. It is a VERY hard thing not to do...."

This is a point that is well made in the book An Insight to Sports -- Featuring Trapshooting by Dr. Wayne Martin O.D. This book was recommended to me by my instructor, and I recommend it too. It's probably out of print. I found it on as a used book.

I am working my way through it, but it has already helped me focus better on the birds. If you have the fundamental technique down and really see the bird, the rest happens naturally.

Will is 100% right IMO about having an instructor. I have had two lessons so far (about 7 hours of instruction), and I have seen a significant improvement in my trapshooting. I used to wonder most of the time why I missed the birds, and now, most of the time, I know exactly why.


Will Fennell
January 23, 2003, 11:28 AM
The reason to shoot low gun is that you get a much better view of the bird. You can [and need ] to shoot premounted on trap style targets because since you can see the trap out infront of you, you have a real good idea of where the bird is coming from, and where it is going. Since it is leaving---getting out of dodge---hauling butt out of range, you wnat to engage the target pretty quickly.

With other presentations, the speed at which you engage the target isn't nearly as critical, so use low gun to get a better view of the bird, letting your eye gain critical info about speed, angle, and distance. Also, for instance incomers as you mentioned, say you get your gun up in a premounted position, but your hold point is a little too high on the incomer? now you don't see the bird at all since it is under your gun[!]. This can be a problem:rolleyes:

The fix that alot of shooters try, as you mentioned is premounting, then raising there head a little to see the bird......well the "trap" you fall into there is that usually you end up dropping your head to the stock after you see the bird...critical NO NO. Your head needs to reamin as motionless as possible when attcking the bird! When your head moves, your eyes usually break focus witht he target....this will cause you usually to look at the gun, and Houston, we have a problem!

Learning to mount the gun isn't that big a deal, and the good news is that its mostly free.....remember those "100 dry gunmounts per night"? Dave brought up anther good technique to add to that routine.... during your "dry practice"....mount the gun to the corner of the wall/ceiling junture in your house, and swing the gun along the lines formed by the wall/ceiling junture like its the flight path of the target.

Good one Dave, I forgot to mention that one:)

bamf, I get to rambling in the descriptions, so keep the questions coming, and I'll try to stay on track! I think we have a new Sportingclay junkie on our hands. See you in San Antonio for the Nationals in September!

Will Fennell
January 23, 2003, 11:33 AM
My early days of shooting competition wre mainly filled with IPSC....then later Chevy Team Challenge['96 Sportsmans CHAMPS!]. From Team Challenge I learned about SC. I got better faster at Sporting Clays than I ever did @ practical pistol competition, but I still drive a 1911 when I get the chance.

There is almost no 3 gun around here, but I still shoot IDPA when I get the chance, about 3-4 matches a year. We have on occasion, after the IDPA match is over, run the stages again with our carbines, and I really enjoy shooting my AR, but there is very little practical shotgunning going on around here.

Heck, I love it all:neener:

Dave McCracken
January 23, 2003, 06:16 PM
Amen, Will, I've never met a shooting event I didn't like. If you ever get up this way, we should get together and shoot some.

I don't compete anymore, the need for bifocals kinda took me out of contention with handguns, but my pet GM gets out on occasion.

And thanks for taking the time to help. First TFL and now here have been blessed with folks willing to share what they know...

Will Fennell
January 23, 2003, 07:57 PM
Next time I'll be in Maryland will be June 20-22 for the NSCA US OPEN @ Hopkins Gamefarm in Kennedyville. Come on out, whether you enter or not, it will be a great time. This guy named Kruger keeps winning the OPEN:rolleyes: .....its getting kinda boring we gotta try again this year:banghead:

Should be about 1000 shooters......200 bird main event.....100 bird prelim.....100 bird FITASC[my favorite].....100 bird 5 stand ....... a head to head "Make-A-Break" championship.....there will be sooooo many shotguns shells shot.....your shoulder will hurt just listening to it all!

Take a look here....

Dave McCracken
January 24, 2003, 05:21 AM
Will, I'll try to make it, but that the busy season for one of my jobs. It oughta be fun, though and maybe Frankenstein and I can get there.

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