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Competition Shotguns 101....

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Dave McCracken, Aug 22, 2009.

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  1. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Dec 20, 2002
    The mailbox has had a couple requests on this,so here's the usual mix of facts, opinions and hearsay.....

    I'm leaving Practical and CAS shotguns out of this. Little recent experience in either precludes my pontificating. So this will apply to those used in clay sports only.

    First, any shotgun can be used in casual competition. Some are better suited to a game and shooter than others.

    Corvettes are fast, well handling cars but I do not see them winning at Indy.

    Top competitors, with few exceptions, use either O/Us or autoloaders.

    Exception, singles trap and handicap are fired one shot at a time. So, single barrel trap guns abound, long barreled and specialized as a space shuttle.

    Factors common to all competition shotguns include.....

    12 gauge, except for Skeet. Some SC matches have sub gauge events, but the 12 gauge otherwise rules.

    Durability. Many trap and skeet guns have fired over a half million rounds, with PM and parts replacement and upgrades.

    Good fit. Most top competitors have their guns fitted to them, oft by the use of adjustable pads and combs.

    The extreme version of this is Vern Brown's Precision Fit "Robo-Stock". This mechanical wonder is adjustable in all dimensions, can be weighted as desired and costs over $1K new. Some folks get one of these, use it until they establish what works for them and have good wood sculpted to match. Not available except for some O/Us.

    Good triggers. Some folks pooh-pooh this but few such find their way into the various Halls Of Fame. A clean, crisp trigger is universally sought. 4lbs is about right to lots of cogniscienti.

    Weight. Shotguns used in the field run under 7 lbs for the uplands, 8 or so for waterfowl, but that's where competition shotguns start. I've handled Kolars nigh 10 lbs that moved well. Some SBTs run to 14. With trap's milder angles, that can be workable.

    And heavy shotguns have less kick. When it's a 500 target game, that's very important.

    Long barrels. 26" barreled Skeet guns used to rule, but the top shots use long barrels now. Specifics later.

    Long barrels have a couple advantages. They move the point of balance forward and help keep the swing going. They also move the blast and noise a few inches further away. That's very important to folks who have flinches and even to the rest of us who don't.


    Here's a breakdown by sport of what most folks regard as best for a given game...

    SKEET- O/Us rule, oft with 30-32" 12 gauge barrels and a set of carrier barrels holding sub gauge tubes in 20 and 28 gauge and 410 bore. The carriers oft are weighted to match the 12 gauge barrels. This gives the same feel and swing with all sets. POI is usually flat or 60-40 at most.Balance is a bit weight forward on most. Chokes run open,of course, with some having a negative constriction.

    Trap- Autos turn up here a lot, but breakactions are in the majority.
    Besides the O/Us, lots of SBTs that have the barrel in either the top or bottom are used. Often the ribs on all these are quite elevated, looking like trestled bridges. Shot with a heads up position, the combs are also elevated.

    POI on a pure trap gun can run up to 100% high.Balance falls into the "Pig on a snow shovel" class, very weight forward.The extra inertia helps keep the swing going. Chokes run tight from LM to Super Full.

    Olympic Trap guns are not quite so weight forward or choked so tightly. A common combination is Mod/LF.

    Sporting Clays- Recent years have seen a rapid evolution in the game and the equipment has moved on with it. Both autos and O/Us turn up on top.

    Autos run to 30" barrels, choke tubes and flat to 60-40 POIs.

    O/Us oft have 32" barrels these days, tubes and similar POIs.

    Balanced somewhat W/F, a good clays gun can turn like a cutting horse but has enough inertia to keep the swing happening.

    Since sporting shots can run from very close to quite long, a hatful of extended tubes that can be swapped quickly is a plus.

    Finally, good clays guns in all sports seldom run cheap. Bargain O/Us rarely hold up to the common round counts of 10K or more shells a year.

    Decent O/Us start around $1K used, with Berettas and Brownings turning up sometimes below $1500.

    Or, you can follow Average Ed's lead.

    Also known as Ed Clapper, Ed took a used 1100, added a Light Contour 30" barrel, a Timney release trigger, and an adjustable stock from Jack West.

    Dialing the stock in, Ed made a fine trap gun from it with a couple tight choke tubes.

    Changing those tubes, you could have a fine skeet gun or SC gun for less than $1k.

    Same applies to the Beretta 390 and 391 series.

    Of course, you then have to pick up empty hulls, but nothing is perfect....
  2. EvanWilliams

    EvanWilliams member

    Apr 10, 2009
    Plano, Texas
    Good advice. I used to shoot SC a great deal. I wish I had gotten into reloading. Would come in handy now. Used to get Win AAs for 40 bucks a flat.

    I have a Browning Gti and a Browning Gold. Never a problem I did have the guns fit to me. I am not a typical build. You won't go wrong with a Browning Gold or a Beretta 391.
    The important thing is to get out there. Get a gun you can afford and shoot it. Have fun. Who cares if some guy has a Krieghoff or a Perazzi. You can shoot just as well with a Remington 1100 or an A5
  3. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Dec 20, 2002
    Thanks, Evan.

    Leo Harrison III rode an 1100 to the ATA Hall Of Fame. Haven't seen many A-5s on Sc courses, but that's as much fashion as function.

    Reloading saves no money, it just allows us to shoot a bit more...
  4. TomADC

    TomADC Member

    Jul 13, 2009
    Southern CA
    For Skeet I shoot a pair of BC Miruko's 12 & 20 ga had them made when I was stationed in Japan in 1970 them have had 10 of thousands rounds thru them, the 12 ga had to have a trigger spring replaced and the 20 nothing, both are old style 26" barrels bored skeet 1 & 2.
    SC I shoot a Remington 11-87 12 ga Sporting Clays model, also have the 585 SKB SC with 30" barrels, back bored etc.
    Trap which I really don't shoot much not a fan, an old Mossberg 12 ga 500 pump with a trap stock & trap raised rib. Looks funny but shoots fine 30" barrel ic chokes.
  5. SN13

    SN13 Member

    Jan 28, 2008
    Then again, it's less the equipment and more the shooter who makes the clays break.

    If you practice with a gun long enough, it won't matter what it is, you'll still hit the clays.
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