The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

Can I use a trap gun for pigeon/game shooting?

Shooting instructor Adam Calvert replies ...

Starting clay pigeon shooting

A trap gun

A: There is a common misconception that trap guns can’t be used for other forms of shooting, I disagree. A trap gun is a gun which usually has slightly longer barrels, tighter chokes and is set up with a higher comb height, making the gun’s impact point also high. In some circumstances, but not all, they can be heavier. Many people would say I have just described the perfect high pheasant gun and I would not disagree as trap guns are often used for this very purpose.

You can use a trap gun for game shooting

There is no reason whatsoever why you can’t use a trap gun for game shooting, however, I would check the impact point of the gun on a pattern board. In previous articles, I have referred to knowing where your gun shoots. This can be easily done by using a pattern board at your local shooting ground, or quite simply a big piece of cardboard nailed to a fence. Place a big mark (about the size of a clay pigeon) on the centre of the cardboard to give you something to focus on, walk back 20-25 yards, stare at the mark and mount and fire. Do this three or four times to get an average.

You are looking for the gun to pattern either between 60 and 80 per cent high and 40 to 20 percent low. You may find that a trap gun can pattern 100 per cent high and in this case I would recommend going to see a good gunsmith and having the comb height reduced until it produces the above figures.

A word of caution. Please be careful when carrying out this process as it is all too easy to get carried away and shave too much off the comb – once it has gone you can’t put it back on.

Beware tight chokes

Also, whilst you are looking where the gun shoots you will be able to look at the choking and what pattern the gun throws with your preferred game cartridge. Many traps guns are choked ¾ and full, which I find too tight for most normal shooting. Unless you are George Digweed, you will want every advantage you can get.

I find I get more wounded birds with tighter chokes, particularly when shooting at an average height bird, which is most of our normal shooting. Again, choking is something which can be easily addressed by a good gunsmith, and I often advise that people only alter the tighter choked barrel from full to either ¼ or ½.

You will often see “Sporterised” trap guns for sale and they have had the above modifications already carried out. Above all, if it works for you don’t be frightened to use it and enjoy it.