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What is the difference between a Sporter and a trap gun?

Our expert describes how they differ to a reader who's just starting shooting

difference between a Sporter and a Trap gun

Q: I’m new to shooting, and about to buy my first gun. However I don’t understand the main differences between a Sporter and a trap gun. Could you explain please?

Sporters and trap guns

A: Let’s start by looking at the different types of targets presented in the sporting and trap disciplines.

Trap targets

  • Trap targets are always going away from you.
  • At the point you shoot them they are rising.
  • They are projected within an arc of about 60 degrees in front. Targets in the different trap disciplines vary slightly, but that’s the general picture.

To tackle rising targets, a trap gun is configured so that it shoots slightly high. This enables the shooter to fire with the target in view just above the muzzle end of the rib, and hit it right in the middle of the pattern.

As the target is retreating from the shooter at quite a rapid rate, choking is usually quite tight: 3/4in the lower barrel (which is fired first), and full in the top.

When tackling trap targets you don’t have to swing the gun as quickly or as far as you do in Sporting, so the gun can be heavier (which helps to soak up recoil), and also steadier in its handling.

Trap guns are designed for trap shooting and not much use for anything else. Many weight over 8lb.

Sporting targets

Sporting is designed to simulate field shooting.

Targets can be incoming, outgoing, crossing, quartering, rising, falling, curling – mimicing just about  anything a wild bird can do..

A Sporter shoots closer to point of aim than a trap gun, is less tightly choked (1/4 and 1/4 being the norm in a fixed-choke), and its handling and balance are designed for fast swinging.

Sporters usually weigh between 7.1/2lb and 7.3/4lb.

Being a compromise gun in the way it handles, balances and shoots, you can also use a Sporter for skeet as well as pigeon and game shooting.

So we usually advise newcomers to pick a Sporter as their first gun.