– Ben Martens

How To Shoot Trap

Logan and I took the “Break More Birds” class at the Kenmore range last weekend. It’s a two hour class that includes two rounds of trap and only costs $35. it’s an incredible deal and I want to take it again in a couple months. Unfortunately it was raining pretty hard for the whole class, but that didn’t stop us from learning a lot.

The class started with us shooting at paper targets to check the spread of our shots at about 40 yards. The spread on my gun was a bit too large and explains why there have been a couple times when I know I was right on the clay but it didn’t break. I’m going to go two notches tighter and pick up a full choke to keep the pattern tighter. That means I have to be more accurate with my shots but it also means that there shouldn’t be any chance of a bird squeaking through a good shot.

From there we talked about foot positioning (I was too wide), arm positioning (my right arm was low) and some other details about how we mounted our guns. After that it was time to pull the trigger and they let us shoot at some birds and critiqued each shot. A lot of us were having trouble smoothly swinging the gun all the way through the shot so they let us load two shells and had us shoot twice to mentally force us to keep the gun on the bird through the first shot. That was a ton of fun. I’ve never loaded two shells into my gun at once and while a pump isn’t the best option for two shot trap, it was fun to pump and shoot again.

It turns out I’m not as sloppy as I thought I might be but they did have some good tips. It will take me a little while to adjust to the suggestions, but hopefully the end result will be positive.

Here are some of the things I remember them telling me during the class. This isn’t a substitute for taking the class yourself, but maybe it will give you a few ideas:

  • Elbows up! You want to form a nice solid triangle with both arms. As you raise your right arm you’ll form a pocket that holds the butt of the gun.
  • Your left index finger (for righties) should be pointed forward. It helps you to naturally point at the target with the gun. I picked that one up by watching the Olympics.
  • Feet should be shoulder width apart with about 60% of your weight on the front foot.
  • Swing through the shot. Don’t jerk ahead of the target, stop, and then shoot.
  • Pull the trigger quickly. Don’t pull slowly like you do for rifle and pistol.
  • Hit the bird on the way up. As it hits the apex, the bird levels out and the cross section is a lot smaller.
  • Each station should have it’s own stance. The more angle of your front foot really affects how easily you can swing to hit all of the shots that you might get from that station.
  • As you start at station 1, start your gun on the left edge of the box but your eyes in the middle of the box. The opposite is true for station 5. It helps you cheat to catch those shots to the sides.
  • In competitions, guys wear blinders and stare at the ground ahead of them when it’s not their turn so they aren’t affected by people who miss or hit behind them.

All in all I’m really impressed with the class. Two instructors for five students, two rounds of trap, and all that was only $35. Kudos to the Kenmore range for a great class and thanks to our instructors, Wayne and Nathan, for all their help.