Outdoor Articles

Dissolving Trap Shooting Myths

by Pursue The Outdoors on November 30th, 1999 in Trap Shooting

Here are several common myths of trapshooting.

  • Angled targets travel in straight lines.

    False. Gravity exerts anti-linear momentum forces upon targets. All angled trap targets “bend” along a curved-arc flight path. The better trapshooters are conscious of this fact and insure they aim/point/acquire the target’s arc before pulling that trigger. Once learned it becomes a natural subconscious act, to a degree, but awareness of this anomaly is critical to obtain consistent solid hits and scores.

  • Straight-away targets are straight.
  • Straight targets bend left or right but never travel in a straight line. It is so rare to see a true straight-away target they are practically non-existent. You can see this for yourself by locking the trap machine and see how many target will strike the center field post. Most targets will still fall left or right of the post and that’s with with machine “locked” in position on a calm day. When the trap oscillates those off-centerline targets increase dramatically. Always aim to shoot left or right of a straight-trending target, never at its center.
  • Never use the sight beads when shooting trap.

    Sight beads are necessary to use. Back-sighting is a requirement to learn how to shoot off the end of your barrel, to tighten the sight picture and to control trigger timing. You can’t shoot with your eyes alone in handicap. Eye/hand coordination is not precise enough to establish precision dispatching of edge-on targets. You have to use the sights more than you currently believe. This is not rifle-aiming, but close to it.

  • You must learn to shoot singles to be good at handicap.

    No. The two games are very different. Each requires its own technique. If this were not true you may as well start shooting double-rise (double-trap) or Olympic trap so you can shoot DTL or ATA handicap targets properly. Each game is different, so do not believe the myth you must shoot singles 16-yard targets to excel in handicap. Specialization is required.

  • A soft eye focus is required prior to calling for target.

    Not true. You have to learn how to pre-focus the eye along the sight rib to energize centralized vision. Pros will casually tell a novice to use a soft focus but they fail to consider they themselves are using centralized vision focus due to the tremendous level of eye-training they have acquired over the years. Once learned it appears as a soft focus but to the beginner it is not. Also, pre-focus allows the shooter to enter the slow-motion mode of shooting, allows the target to appear brighter and the targets come to the shooter instead of having to chase them down.

  • A shooter can setup his/her own gun fit.

    Extremely rare. Only a few can who have the inner knowledge. Most all shooters are shooting guns that are not fitted properly and have never consulted with a stockfitter for a check-up. A mirror will not help to perform fit tests as the shooter will tweak adjustments to “make” it look right. An outside view is required. Too many targets are missed due to failing to insure good gun fit.

  • 30-inch patterns is the standard and most reliable.

    A common myth. In singles you’ll get away with it, but not in long-yardage handicap as the pattern fails. The central hot-core is what breaks targets with ‘reliability’ so pattern down to the 25″ pattern to establish the tightly-packed central core. If you don’t, you will miss targets when you did not miss at all. The 30″ pattern works against you in handicap shooting. If the 25″ pattern is too much for you to learn then try the 28″ pattern first to learn to adapt to the increased precision required to break the targets then migrate to the 25″ pattern.

  • Release trigger solves flinching.

    It is a management tool, not a cure-all. Flinching comes in many forms not just recoil flinching. Release triggers do help many shooters and is a viable tool. There are alternative techniques to explore before switching to the release trigger as these triggers will not cure sight-picture flinches where you pull the trigger at the wrong time and miss the target.

  • Shooters don’t need lessons.

    A prevalent misconception especially in the USA and Canada. Every shooter needs instruction to learn the finer points of trapshooting. There are too many shooters who shoot in competition not really knowing what is really going on out there with the targets. There are tricks to this trade like any other sport or occupation. If you don’t learn these little secrets you eventually hit a wall that can’t be broken down and the dreaded slump materializes.

  • A new shooter should begin at the 16-yard line.

    Everybody does this but it’s wrong. The new shooter is too close to the targets and they appear too fast to the eye like shooting skeet targets. The gun must swing faster in a wider arc so they learn right away to “push” the muzzle to the target, often violently. Shooting 16-yard targets is difficult to do for the brand new shooter and no sense of preliminary accuracy is acquired. Put the new shooter on the 20-yard line so they can see the target a little better and slower and not have to swing the gun so wildly. Once they get the hang of it then let them shoot the 16’s.

  • Canting a shotgun is a grave error.

    Only if performed with no specific purpose. A new shooter will cant the gun because the mind’s-eye is seeing the curving targets and telling the body to respond to follow the arc. The shooting coach will eliminate the canting so as to establish proper swing dynamics. However, once swing form is learned canting is a technique a shooter can intentionally use to get on the target quicker and smoother and shape the shotstring for dead-center hits. It is an advance moving gun technique. You will see pros using it. It’s subtle to the untrained eye but canting is used with great success in trapshooting.

  • Many shooters are using the wrong size choke.

    Absolutely. Most shooters are using a choke that is throwing a wide pattern to obtain “easy hits” but the pattern fails just enough to keep the scores down in the non-winning area. Tighten up the choke. You’ll miss targets at first due to learning how to get more precise hits but in the long-run you’ll begin to pick up those previously lost targets and see impressive scores. Learn to shoot with precision not with a choke. Practice with an extra-full choke! This will build precision. Later, in competition, you can open up the choke a bit if you wish to help counter for those slight misalignments, nervousness induced errors, etc.

  • It is easier to shoot at the 27-yard line.

    When shooters at shorter handicap distances shoot the 27-yard at Turkey or Buddy-shoots they seem to pump some good scores; “Hey, it’s easier here than where I’m standing!” So the drive to get to that “easy” 27 is very attractive and all efforts are expended to get there quickly. The day of victory arrives…success at last! Then suddenly — almost immeditely upon arrival — the scores dump to the pits and stay there. What happened to that easy 27? It’s not so easy anymore! In fact, it’s hellishly difficult. You can thank your unconcious mind for the trip to hell because it brought you there, not by pure skill, but my emotion and luck. On the journey to the 27-yard line precision shooting techniques were never learned and when that luck runs dry (and it does) a shooter can not escape from the plateau. The wall is hit hard and the shooter is trapped in a snare. All efforts to escape fail and the relentless slump materizes, feeding on itself, and the walls squeeze in to crush the shooter’s spirit and scores. Now there is help! You can take lessons from a coach to escape and/or read my books to learn these precision shooting secrets. Try as you may, you will never escape this hellish slump on your own efforts. You must have the knowledge to break free. It’s now or never.

  • You must have natural-born talent to become a professional trapshooter.

    Totally false! Many, many, pros will tell you how badly they shot when they first started out…often worse than your scores when you first shot! One Hall of Fame pro told me when he fired his first round of trap he couldn’t hit any of the 25 targets and it took him ten tries before he hit ten of them! Talk to Olympic Medallists winners and they will tell you just how little natural-talent plays a role to perform professionally. You have to learn pro techniques! You also need advice, support, lessons and instructions. Some shooters can rise to high levels of achievement on natural-talent, but few do. And even those that do rely on the “inner knowledge” they picked up from other professionals! Pros don’t shoot in a vacuum. No man is an island. Get the knowledge and you can become a professional trapshooter!

  • Nobody gives lessons for free.

    Not true. There are many free resources you can use to learn trapshooting.

    • Click here for free trap shooting lessons and click here for answers to many questions.
    • Talk to professional shooters…ask questions. Many trapshooters feel intimidated to approach these professionals. Simply push past that barrier and introduce yourself and open with, “Can I ask you a question about (gun fit, sight pictures, etc.)?” It’s that simple. Most will never say no so you’ll get your answer. Keep conversation brief and short, a couple minutes or so, and the next day you will get even more advice if you ask.
    • Subscribe to shooting magazines. The subscription cost is so low relative to the information given the shooting lessons given in the articles themselves are essentially free.
    • Search for internet sources where advice is given and where shooters talk to each other on-line.
    • The library may have shooting books you can read for free.
    • You can pay to have shooting lessons from a coach/instructor. Yes, the cost is there, but if you win option money due to the increased scores — those shooting lessons were free. A good investment was made.
  • You never aim a shotgun, you point it at the target.

    Just watch a pro shoot and tell me s/he is pointing the gun at the targets when shooting handicap targets…and I’ll show you a pro that is no longer going to stay a pro. You bet these pro shooters aim their guns! After 25-years of shooting 40,000 targets a year it may even appear to be pointing to them at times, but the truth is they are using those sight beads/muzzle to put them on the target. It’s the only way to get that sure-fire hit each and every time. No luck here or relying on pure eye/hand coordination as the sole factor. Fact is, at the 27-yard line there is little eye/hand coordination taking place. It’s pure intentional calculated precision moves to the target; trigger control, eye focus, gun and eye holds, tracking the target’s true line of flight, fine-tuned back-sighting, etc. Techniques that have nothing to do with pointing a shotgun. Don’t believe the myth you point a shotgun for if you do…you will continue to point and lose to the pros who know better. There are many secrets to trapshooting.

  • Eye/hand coordination is a predominate skill in handicap trapshooting.

    False. There is very little angular muzzle travel at the 27-yard line, a bit more at lesser yardage’s but dangerous to assume handicap shooting requires polished eye/hand coordination as would shooting singles or double trap at the 16-yard line or other disciplines such as skeet and sporting clays. A higher degree of precision aiming is required in the handicap trap game where the shooter must learn how to use the sight beads without rifle-shooting. A technique called back-sighting which allows the shooter to shoot off the end of the barrel.

  • Shooting Glasses? A waste of money.

    False. Shooting glasses are designed with lenses ground to centralize vision into the focal zone where the iris is located so you see the target with more rod receptors, about 750,000 more! This enhances your shooting greatly the moment you put the glasses on. The better you see the target the easier it will be to hit it. Many shooter are missing out on these benefits. Lens filters also enhance target centering and clarity. The cost is now way more affordable!

  • Do not think when shooting in competition.

    True and false. If you don’t think you’ll be shooting blindly with a dead mind. Using trigger words and simple positive statements will keep you focused to the job at hand. The top Olympic shooters are fierce competitors and they mentally converse with themselves with a vengeance when shooting. It elevates desire and forces you to enhance performance and crush negetive thoughts; “You have to beat the devil to submit to your will not his!”

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