Trap help needed

Not open for further replies.


Feb 14, 2015
Leavenworth KS
I have a 26in pump 12ga with IMP CYL barrel. (fixed choke) Buddy of mine told me it is a gun that would suck for Trap shooting. And not really good for a field use. Said I needed to use my 12ga 28in MOD choke for Trap and hunting.
I disagreed with him. Am I right or wrong. Will be only shooting from the 16yrd line for Trap. And planned on using the gun for Pheasant this Nov shooting #5's
If you've never shot trap before you're in for a learning curve. Once you get the hang of it though your shotgun should be fine. Pattern your shotgun, have somebody spot for you when you start with trap, be mindful of what you do while shooting, and have fun.

Good luck in November.
Imp Cyl can be done for trap, but you might let a few fly through your pattern if you don't get on them real quick. As for pheasants you would want to be inside 30 yards for quick kills or you may be chasing lots of wounded birds. Mod would still be a better choice for both applications, and the extra 2" of barrel won't be a handicap shooting trap or walking open fields for pheasant. As suggested pattern both barrels at your using distance and see how they compare, your I/C may be quite a tight pattern, or not.
Trap is a game where you are shooting clay targets that rise and are flying away from you. A trap gun has a straighter stock and is set up to send the center of its pattern above the line of sight so the rising target breaks when the the front bead is on target. A field gun has a stock with greater drop so the pattern centers on the line of sight. When shooting trap with a field gun you need to blank out the target in the swing, otherwise you will shoot below the target.
Typically trap is shot with a full choke though some will use a modified, OU Trap guns in the era of fixed chokes where often choked Full over Full. The closest distance to the trap house on the fantail shooters position is 16 yds and the furthest is 27 yds. The target launcher will throw the target 51 yards if it is set to official standard. An improved cyl will break targets at the 16 yd line if you are quick and catch the target close up but if it gets out to mid field the pattern will be too open to break targets reliably. I have seen lots of unbroken clay targets on the trap range that had couple holes in them but hadn't broke. Improved cylinder choke is appropriate for Skeet where the targets are much closer or on some stations of sporting clays.
You are only allowed one shell to be loaded for each target to be thrown when shooting trap and no extra allowed in the magazine. If you are shooting doubles where 2 targets are thrown at a time then you may load 2 shells.

As for pheasants I have always used a modified or full choke. Pheasants fly fast and can put a lot of distance from you quickly. But most of my hunting has been on harvested fields along fence lines for wild birds without a dog. If you hunt with a dog or for stocked birds from a game farm the improved would probably work ok.
Last edited:
the best I ever did with a impcyl choke was 22-25 at the 16 yard line, I was shooting with a young man using the same impcyl choke with who shot 25-25 at the 16 yard line. boy would I love to have those eyes and reflexes again. but at close to 76 years those day are long gone, but I keep trying.

Let's talk chokes for a moment.

There are quite a few different chokes, but for the moment let's limit our discussion to the five most common. Cylinder, Improved Cylinder, Modified, Improved Modified, and Full. In that order, Cylinder is the least restricted and Full is the most restricted. (Actually, there is no restriction with a cylinder bore, there is a complete lack of restriction with a Cylinder barrel, hence the name.) When shot leaves the barrel of a shotgun it has a natural tendency to disperse. So the farther the shot travels, the more it disperses, causing the pattern to spread out. The more a pattern spreads out, the more 'gaps' there are between pellets. A choke squeezes the shot a bit just before it leaves the muzzle. The more choke, the tighter the pattern remains at a given distance.

I have been shooting trap for over twenty years. I learned to shoot with a Full choke with my Dad's old Browning Double Auto back in the late 1960s before interchangeable choke tubes were invented.
These days I usually shoot an old Winchester Model 12 with a built in Full choke. I do have a Beretta Over and Under with screw in chokes, I usually put a Modified choke in the lower barrel.

Just about everyone I know shoots Trap with an Improved Modified choke. A few use a Modified choke, and a few use a Full choke like me.

I tend to agree with your friend, although I would probably be a bit more tactful. Improved Cylinder is really not a very good choke for trap, yes 16 yard trap. By the time you fire, the target is probably about 30 yards away. At that distance, the pattern thrown by an Improved Cylinder choke will probably have a lot of 'holes' in the pattern. You might be right on, but a target could easily slip through the pattern and not be struck by any pellets. Or not struck by enough pellets to break it. Generally speaking, the target has to be struck by a few pellets, not just one, to break.

If I were you, I would use the Modified gun. You will have a slightly denser pattern than you would with the Improved Cylinder gun. More chance of hitting the target with enough pellets to break it.

With my Full choke, I have less room for error, I have to be right on because the pattern has not spread out as much at 30 yards. But the pattern is so dense out about 30 yards that when I am on, I smash them and there is nothing but dust left in the air.
I would agree that your 26 inch improved cylinder barrel is not ideal for serious trap shooting. Short range informal trap, it's fine. For hunting you have a very versatile gun , I use an improved cylinder probably 90% of the time pheasant hunting, usually with my own 1 1/2 oz loads of #5 shot. For ducks I use an improved cylinder over half the time. With steel or other non toxic shot and imp. cyl. will usually shoot modified choke patterns.
In the days when smooth bore shotguns and slugs were the only legal option for deer, I took at least two dozen with my Rem 870 26 inch imp cyl.
I have a 26in pump 12ga with IMP CYL barrel. (fixed choke) Buddy of mine told me it is a gun that would suck for Trap shooting. And not really good for a field use. Said I needed to use my 12ga 28in MOD choke for Trap and hunting.
I disagreed with him. Am I right or wrong. Will be only shooting from the 16yrd line for Trap. And planned on using the gun for Pheasant this Nov shooting #5's
He is right. You are wrong. Even at the 16, IC is too open for Trap. Mod. is still a little too open, but useable. 26" is too short of a barrel for Trap also, unless you devote a lot of rounds shooting one. I shoot leagues with a guy who uses a 26" with a full choke in it, and he finished ahead of me this year, but he's shot the same gun for many years. The swing dynamics of a 26" barrel make it harder to shoot Trap, not easier.
For field use, it is good for everything but late season wild pheasants, and pass shooting duck and geese. I use only full choke in a 30" 1100 for Trap, though I have the full set of chokes.
Every year I shoot at least one round with my 18" Ithaca 37 (cyl bore) to remind me why I don't shoot Trap with a riot gun, and don't use my Trap gun to protect my house.
Last edited:
Your gun will work fine to start with, and for informal shooting. Yes, a longer barrel would be nice but not vital. Same with the choke IM would be better but IC will do. Later, after you have a little more experience you can select a trap gun that fits your needs.

Remember that any hit is a break so a uniform shot pattern is more important than a super tight pattern. Pattern various load to find one with even distribution.

I'm not just giving an opinion here. I competed for a number of years in black powder trap meets. My favorite was the Trade Gun match. A trade gun is a flintlock 20 gauge with absolutely no choke. Tough game but I shot it well enough to win the state championship one year.

Do your homework, accept that your gun is not ideal and just have fun. Later you can get serious.

Use the 12ga 28in MOD choke for both trap and field. If hunting over dogs, then use the I/C choke gun with 5 shot.

Number 8 shot for trap & # 5 for Pheasant. Most 5 size shot will pass thru the bird. Less damage and less shot to bite into when eating.
Like the others, I would tend to agree with your buddy. Modified is a very versatile "all around" constriction for trap, sporting, and hunting. Obviously, in certain circumstances more open or tighter will be a batter choice, but if I was only allowed one choke, it would be a M. The KEY, as mentioned, is to pattern your gun with your ammo. Your IC might throw a cylinder pattern or a Mod pattern. Pattern both your IC and M guns with the ammo you will be using for trap and hunting. It's the only way to really know what pattern your gun's choke throws.
I used to shoot a lot of ATA Trap. I started out at Full and worked my way down to Modified for 16 yd singles. It was OK for middle yardage handicap, not everybody is a 27 yarder.
I still have my IM/F Under/Over which I used for doubles.
I had a screw choke U/O that I set up IC/F for doubles which was better for my timing.
Sorry I sold that one, it would be great for the little shotgunning I do now.

My friend the pheasant hunter uses Modified.

If you are shooting off a foot trap in the pasture, you can place it to suit your choke and your anticipated hunting ranges.
Lots of good talk. I don’t shoot much trap and my best was 21/25 with IC. My son shot 24/25 last night with IC. He shoots skeet & sporting clays & tries to get on a bird early. If you naturally acquire a target early & fast, you will have better success at 16 yd with IC. If you spend time “thinking about it,” up your choke.
If you spend time “thinking about it,” up your choke.

I don't 'think about it'.

If the target is traveling wide in either direction, it takes me a second or so to catch up to it. No thinking involved, my reflexes are not as quick as a 20 year old, it just takes me more time to get to the target.

If the target is a straight away, I simply raise the gun up and fire. Much quicker.

No thinking involved, it is simply how long it takes me to put the gun on the target.

I do try to fire before the target starts on its way down.

P.S. Just for fun yesterday I brought an old L.C.Smith SXS to the trap field. I used the right barrel, choked Modified. I surprised the dickens out of myself hitting 22 targets out of 25. With an old SXS field gun.
Last edited:
I did ok from the 16 yard line the other day with an 870 with the IC choke in. Obviously I didn’t see pro level performance (it had been years since I last shot trap) but I broke more birds than I missed.

If I was going to try my hand at serious competition, yeah, I’d buy a dedicated rig, but for informal fun and as a way to practice with your field gun, there’s nothing wrong with bringing what you have.
^^^^^ Exactly..........for grins and giggles use what you want. For serious competition, use the best tool for the job. I'll bring my 20 gauge SxS choked IC/M and shoot rounds of skeet or even sporting for fun and practice. But when it comes to a registered tournament, out comes the 8.5# 32" barrel 12 gauge
Last edited:
Not ideal but ok for beginning trap. Pretty good for upland bird hunting Woodcock, Grouse dove and the like. but a tighter chock would be better for late wild pheasants or waterfowl.
Cruise the internet gun dealers, an extra barrel is a lot cheaper than a new gun. These day one receiver can have a barrel for most applications of shot gunning. My 1100 has a high rib trap barrel with Rem Choke, a modified field barrel and a slug Barrel.
You can have the barrel threaded for choke tubes.
I had a barrel shortened by Rose action sports. No complaints.
As I recall threading for choke tubes was about $125. You can also buy or rent the reamer and tap and do it yourself.
Worth considering depending on the value of the gun.
I set this 1100 3" magnum shotgun with three other barrels for 2-3/4, trap- small game-water foul and slugs large game pretty cheap.


  • DSCN0038 (2).JPG
    DSCN0038 (2).JPG
    151.6 KB · Views: 4
  • DSCN0039 (2).JPG
    DSCN0039 (2).JPG
    172.3 KB · Views: 4
  • DSCN0036 (2).JPG
    DSCN0036 (2).JPG
    149.3 KB · Views: 4
You can have the barrel threaded for choke tubes.
I had a barrel shortened by Rose action sports. No complaints.
As I recall threading for choke tubes was about $125. You can also buy or rent the reamer and tap and do it yourself.
Worth considering depending on the value of the gun.
My only caution would be that, unless you are proficient drilling/tapping for threads, you run the risk of not getting it centered properly
You would need or have access to the proper equipment. Much easier to just send in the barrel considering the cost.
Exactly. Mike Orlen in MA does it for about $55 per barrel plus choke tubes. Comes highly recommended by many folks on ShotgunWorld forum
Lots of good advice. But my advice is to switch to Skeet. It’s way more fun, and your gun is near perfect.
Not open for further replies.