When I’m not hitting the targets well, I use these tactics to get my trap shooting game back on track. If you’d like to improve your trap score, try incorporating some of these ideas into your routine.
1. Rotate your stance away from the trap.
If you’re right-handed, rotate your entire body (and stance) a little to the right. This shift increases the depth of the “pocket” between your shoulder and neck, making it more likely that you will mount the gun correctly. This will also straighten your head, allowing your eyes to better focus on the target.
2. Open your stance slightly.
Increasing the distance between your feet by just an inch or two will give you a greater sense of stability.
3. Lift the butt of the gun a little at your shoulder.
Raising the butt of the gun on your shoulder a small amount will straighten your head. Just be sure not to overdo it, or you’ll risk the muzzle rising when you shoot and slapping you in the cheek.
4. Press the gun butt back against your shoulder very firmly.
As you swing your gun, you’ll have much more precise control and feel less recoil with the butt pressed very firmly against your shoulder. This tactic helps me “center-punch” targets more frequently.
5. Move your cheek farther forward along the comb.
This reduces the tendency to lift your head and also stabilizes the relationship between your head and the gun.
6. Press your cheek firmly against the comb.
Pressing your cheek against the comb has the same effect as moving your cheek forward – your head stays down and the gun is more stable. The combination of these two tricks can cause a surprising improvement in your score.
7. Ensure that the gun isn’t canted.
To ensure that the gun isn’t titled sideways, you may need some help from a friend to tell you when you have the gun perfectly perpendicular to the ground. If you’re like me, you may find it easy to fall into the habit of canting your gun slightly, so it’s important to monitor this.
8. Adjust the height of your hold point.
This is a neat trick to deal with a situation where the trap is set wrong, or the wind is lifting or depressing the targets. An adjustment of two or three inches up or down in my hold point seems to help enormously when dealing with out-of-whack target heights.
9. WAIT! (the four-letter word of trapshooting).
Don’t start moving the gun the instant you see the target appear. Before moving your gun, wait for at least a half a second (and more if you can) to observe the direction and height of the target. This is very, very challenging, but the longer I wait after I call for a bird, the higher my score.
10. Clear your mind.
This is also a tough one, but you just can’t hit the target if you are thinking about lunch, whether you should have used a lighter choke, what your score so far is, or anything but your next target. From the time you start to raise your gun, your whole life consists of you, your gun and the clay target. You should clear your mind of absolutely everything else.
And finally, unless you have something in common with a one-arm paper hanger, don’t try to implement a lot of these suggestions at once. Try one (or two) at the most for a couple of shooting sessions. If the change helps, work to make it a habit, fully integrating it into your shooting routine, before moving on to another tip.