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The Basic Shotgunner — A foundation to Build Upon

Hello fellow club members and clay target shooters. Summer is here and after not posting any articles for a while, it is time to add some info that will hopefully help some of you get started as you get into shotgunning. I get a lot of questions from shooters that are just trying to get comfortable on the line. The following four items are a basic check list that I use myself and also when helping someone get started.


First off let me say that everyone is a little different, so what I'm going to address here are some basics. When you are standing on the trap shooting line, it is important to have a good foundation. It starts with standing firm on the line so no odd twists of the feet, knees, hips, etc. Normally for a right-handed shooter, a good place to start is with your left foot slightly forward and your feet about shoulder-width apart, facing the trap house. When the gun is mounted, you should have a slightly forward posture having your shoulders back and stomach out will not allow you to control the shotgun the way you would like.

Gun Mount

This is of course very important, and the objective of consistency is to get the shotgun into your shoulder the same every time. There are so many different types of shotguns with different stock types, etc., so I will be referencing in general terms as there are a number of things that will make an optimal fit including length of pull, height of the comb, and so on. When mounting the butt end of the stock into your shoulder, you want to the place your cheek on the comb, not leaning your face at an odd angle. Using a forward posture, you should be able get a proper look down the rib of shotgun.If the gun is too long, you will find yourself moving your face uncomfortably to the back of the stock; too short and you will find yourself crawling too close to the receiver.


There are many aspects to this but to get started we will start with hold points. This is where once you are standing firm on the line and aligned with the trap properly and have a good gun mount, you point your shotgun for the optimal chance to see the target leave the traphouse from each post.

  • Post 1: Hold on the left outer edge of the trap house with your eyes soft focusing just above the rib of your shotgun. (This part applies to all the hold points)
  • Post 2: Hold just to the inside of left outer edge of the trap house.
  • Post 3: Hold on the outer edge of the trap house just to the right of center.
  • Post 4: Hold to the inside of the right outer edge of the trap house.
  • Post 5: Hold on the right outer edge of the trap house.

These basic hold points allow you a starting place and a better chance to see the target as it leaves the trap house.


This is the part that is totally supported by the first three items listed above. The proper stance allows you to get a good gun mount which enables you to have the proper look over the shotgun so you can see the trap house and the target leaving the house. Seeing the target leave the house then triggers your movement to achieve the proper angle/lead to shoot at and break the target. The basics I use on movement are as follows and we will address here.

3 basic target presentations

For ease of explanation we will say we are standing on post 3. As you call for the target and see it leave the house as a straight away target, press slightly forward keeping your face on the comb (this is very important) and do not make a radical first move of moving the barrel up and dropping your right shoulder if you are a right-handed shooter (your left if you are a left-handed shooter).While doing this, your vision should be down the rib of the shotgun and with your rib/bead slightly under the target. Squeeze the trigger and watch the target break.

The next is a left target angle from Post 3. As the target leaves the house and you recognize the angle, keep your face on the comb and turn slightly at the waist as you move to the target. If you feel like you are off balance and falling to the left, you are too straight-on in the stance. You want your angle movements to be easy and to give you a solid foundation. Press forward slightly and as you move, shoot the target. A slight lead is very important to get into the habit of, as many misses are shot under and behind.

For the right-moving target, it is very important here for the right-handed shooter to keep their face on the comb, as when moving to the right it is easy to make an exaggerated movement and pull the shotgun away from your face. If you feel like you are tipping over to the right as you make a move on a right moving target, again, a slight adjustment in your stance will be needed usually not standing with both feet in straight alignment to the trap house.

Check List

These four items are a good place to start and build your foundation with.There are many points of discussion on these and many different opinions as there are shooters to talk about them. What we really want to do here is get a new shooter a basic check list to work from and build on to improve as a shooter and break more targets and enjoy the sport of trapshooting. If you have questions please feel free to ask for me and I will be happy to respond. Thanks for reading!.

Be safe. Have fun and shoot well!


George's corner…

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