Trap Shooting Tips and Tricks to Keep in Mind for Better Performance

Getting started with shooting at moving targets is tough, especially if you have never done it before. You could use some trap shooting tips. Everybody could!

You may have shot at paper targets, which is a good start because it does help you learn control, but trap shooting is much different.

One of the greatest ways to get that kind of practice is to make sure you work on your hand-eye coordination in relation to the way you aim with your shotgun. Aiming with a shotgun is different than aiming with a rifle.

Our Top 7 Trap Shooting Tips

Don’t worry though. We walk you through some trap shooting tips to help you get on your way.

1. Pick the right shotgun

Picking the right shotgun is relative to the shooter. Heavier shotguns are generally more difficult for kids to handle. The recoil can be painful if they’re not ready for it, and even more so when they’re not experienced.

If the shooter doesn’t have the right shotgun for their strength, there could be some real damage.

For people new to shooting with shotguns, start with nothing bigger than about a 20-gauge shotgun.

Now that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a 12-gauge at all starting out, but you do need to understand that size matters in this instance. If you’re a burly dude or a stronger gal, you may be okay with a 12-gauge. Just know proper positioning and that it will come with a kick.

2. Understand what the numbers mean

As you dive into the world of shotgun shooting, you’re going to see all sorts of numbers jump out at you. Each number represents a different type of shotgun shell used in the shotgun.

A 12-gauge shotgun is going to have a more robust ammunition that will deliver a harder kick when you pull the trigger. A 20-gauge shotgun will still have a kick, but 20-gauge shells don’t give off as much of a kick.

Another option available to choose is a .410 shotgun. The .410 isn’t actually a gauge, but the precise diameter of the bore on this particular shotgun. If you want to work on practicing your aim with a stationary target, these could work out really well.

And there isn’t much of a kick which makes them great for younger kids or brand new sportsmen.

On the other hand, you don’t want to use a .410 shotgun when your trap shooting because even the best shooters tend to miss. If you’re an expert, though, it could be a nice challenge for you.

There’s a reason most don’t use it. The .410 has a smaller amount of pellets inside the ammunition at all of about half an ounce. When you pull the trigger, and those pellets produce a thin pattern and are best for short-range.

3. Practice, pointing, and shooting

One of the best trap shooting tips is probably aim.

Aiming with a shotgun is a lot different than aiming with a rifle, as mentioned before. Consider the fact that when you have a rifle, you have a single bullet that comes out of the barrel. That means you have a single projectile to aim.

This is very different from the way the shotgun releases the pellets because they spray. If you were to aim at a safe piece of cardboard, you’d see the difference in the way a rifle hits and the way a shotgun hits.

You’ll notice, too, that rifles have sights, right? Shotgun sights are nothing like rifle sights. Instead, they have a bead at the very end of the barrel.

The bead is meant to act as a guiding point, but not to line up like you would a rifle sight. That’s because of the way the shotgun sprays its pellets when you pull the trigger.

You’ll get a feel for these differences if you take the time to practice shooting at stationary targets at about 10 yards. Once you figure out how you need to aim, that’s when you start working with throwers.

4. Keeping your eyes open

You need to keep both eyes open, which is harder than most people think. If you’ve ever shot a gun, there’s a good chance you’ve shot it with one eye open and one eye closed.

When you’re shooting at a moving target, it’s better to keep both eyes open in order to track the target accurately.

Even still, you’ll need to figure out which eye is your dominant eye. To do that, you’re going to focus on an object in front of you and center it with both eyes open. Hold your hands out in front of you and create a triangle between your fingers.

Center that object in the middle of the triangle you created. Open and close each eye without adjusting your hands. If you still see the object with one eye and not the other eye, then the one that sees the object is the dominant eye. If you see the object with both eyes, then it means you’re ambidextrous.

If your eyes are ambidextrous, then you may want to cover one of your eyes while shooting because they’re competing for dominance.

When your eyes compete for dominance, it can cause confusion when aiming. If you have an eye that is definitely dominant, then it won’t be a problem.

5. Body awareness is a thing

Your body position is extremely important when you’re shooting your shotgun. Remember, you’re pointing the gun and not actually aiming the gun like you would a rifle. Because of this key difference, your posture is going to be different and more relaxed.

Relaxing your body is going to allow to absorb the recoil safely as well as track the clay effectively. That’s because you’ll be able to rotate from the waist.

Remember to keep your legs slightly bent about hip-width apart with your dominant leg behind you and your other leg in front of you.

Your body should be facing sideways in such a way that you can rotate at your waist with the gun pointed safely down the range.

Also, be sure to lean a little into the shotgun. That gives you a proper bracing to take the recoil.

6. You need to hold the shotgun correctly

It’s critical that you hold the shotgun correctly because anything else could result in injury to you or someone near you.

Experienced shooters will tend to call for the launch and the lift the gun. They can make this movement efficiently because they know how it feels and how to point the gun to hit the clay.

If you’re new, you may want to consider getting the shotgun in place first and then calling for the launch. This allows your instructor to correct your hold before you shoot.

Ideally, you want your shooting elbow parallel to the ground and the buttstock on your shoulder. It’s better for you to have the entire buttstock on your shoulder as opposed to part of it. It gives you a larger surface area to absorb the recoil.

Your cheek is also part of the way that you hold the shotgun. It needs to rest firmly on top of the stock to line up the bead at the front of the barrel.

You shouldn’t see any of the barrel, and should only see the bead.

If you see any of the barrel, then your head is way too high.

7. Complete your follow through

When you launch the clay bird, you need to be ready to track it with your gun’s bead. Swing your shotgun along the same path that your clay is going. That enables you to predict when you need to pull the trigger.

There are a couple of different methods to decide when to shoot. You can track it with your bead and get just a smidge ahead of it. When you’re ready, you pull the trigger and then hopefully hit your clay.

A different way to shoot is to track the clay bird until your muzzle covers what you can see. The bird should be behind the muzzle from your line of sight. If you pull the trigger then, you’ll stand a pretty good chance of hitting the target.

After you shoot, continue to swing the shotgun through the arc to complete your follow through. Don’t stop moving once you shoot because your continued follow through may result in an improved shot.

Just a Few Last Words on Trap Shooting Tips

Getting better at trap shooting is going to take practice. If you can get an automatic thrower, that will be better for you. That way, you don’t need to have someone else there with you to launch the clays.

Before you decide to go solo, though, make sure you know what you’re doing. You want to be safe. Practice with a buddy when you can, to keep everyone safe and sound.

Once you get the hang of trap shooting, you’re going to love the rush you get when you break that clay. It is pretty fantastic. And as long as you practice, it can happen to you, too!

Do you have any trap shooting tips to share? Sound off in the comments below!

Featured Image by Mara Koenig via WikiMedia

Dakota R.

My name is Dakota, Since I was a little boy, hunting has been my favorite things to do. Being outdoors meant I got to spend more one on one time with my father. I've learned so much from my dad over the years, and I hope you can learn and enjoy following my blog!

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