Which barrel to use first for Trap shooting: Top or Bottom Barrel?

Which barrel to use first for trap shooting top or bottom barrel

For the last decade or so, trap shooting has been growing in popularity with the American public. But how can you improve your game? Here’s a guide to help shooters who are just starting out in clay pigeon shooting understand the differences in the types of trap guns.

The shotgun is a powerful tool. However, with this power comes a limitation; the farther away you are from the target, the less likely you are to hit it. Therefore, as a shotgunner, you must decide at the outset of a shooting session whether to use the top barrel or bottom barrel.

And that brings us to the main topic: Which barrel to use first for trap shooting?

The question of which barrel to use first in trap shooting has been asked many times. With many different views on the subject, it seems like no one can agree on which one is the best way. So, we decided to look into the various aspects of this and try and provide some clarity.

First of all, there is no clear-cut answer for this and even the top coaches in the game will tell you; there is no one set method for which barrel to shoot first. The key is to maximize your scoring opportunity.

As such, different people may have different opinions about whether you should shoot the top barrel first (also known as the upper barrel) or the bottom barrel first. But here is a more comprehensive guide on what option would best match your shooting needs. So, read on.

Top Barrel vs Bottom Barrel: Overview

Top Barrel vs Bottom Barrel Overview

The clay gun barrel has been a staple of gun and ammo manufacturing since its inception. Initially, they had to include the propellant (powder) and the wadding in the breech in order to seal the charge from any bullets that were driven down the barrel from the muzzle ends.

After that, the powder charge was then ignited by a flame or spark using a flintlock or percussion cap, which propelled the projectiles toward the targets. There were many different types of firearms that shared this fairly simple technology, including rifles and shotguns.

Now, there is a debate among trap shooters as to whether it is better to shoot from the top barrel or the bottom barrel (otherwise known as under barrel). But generally speaking, both bottom barrel and top barrel have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Shooting from the top barrel gives the shooter more control over the gun since the barrel is closer to the shooter’s hand. This can be helpful in keeping the gun steady and on target.

Having said that, though, the top barrel, or rather the upper barrel is also more likely to be obstructed by the shooter’s hand, making it more difficult to see the target.

On the other hand, shooting from the bottom barrel puts the barrel closer to the target, making it easier to hit the target. However, it can be more difficult to control the gun from this position, and the recoil can be more difficult to manage.

So, Which One Should You Choose for Trap Shooting?

So, Which One Should You Choose for Trap Shooting

In general, most shooters prefer to shoot the bottom barrel first or the bottom barrel. This is mainly because the bottom barrel recoils often back in a line that’s more closely aligned with the shotgun’s long axis, which causes a slight reduction in muzzle rise.

The decrease in muzzle rise results in a little reduction in perceived recoil, thereby decreasing fatigue. Your head posture is crucial, of course, otherwise, if it’s out of line, you would be just as likely to miss as with any other barrel.

So it turns out that the lower barrel is a little bit easier for shooters when it comes to felt recoil, but in terms of performance, shooting experts suggest that both barrels should shoot to the same point of interest. You can prove this to yourself by taking the barrels to the pattern board and actually shooting them both.

What Length Barrel Should You Use?

What Length Barrel Should You Use

One important thing that you should note is that the balance of the gun is largely influenced by the length of the barrel. Shorter barrels tend to make the stock of the gun heavier whereas longer barrels tend to make the nose heavier. Moreover, longer barrels are known to allow for more deliberate shooting, whereas shorter barrels are generally rapid.

Perhaps the best part about shorter barrels is that they’re lighter, and quicker and can keep the barrels from hunging up on tree limbs when shooting in the forest, for instance.

Shotguns were originally developed as single-barrelled and they utilized black powder, which according to modern standards, was slow burning. This consequently lead to the development of long barrels that featured a jet of flame resulting from the blast of the powder charge.

These lengthy, single-barrelled weapons, which could reach lengths of up to 36 inches, were believed to offer the shooter exceptional visual pointability.

However, when shorter, more maneuverable double-barrelled shotguns initially appeared, the stated outstanding visual capabilities of longer barrels weren’t quite enough to prevent the sale of the later shorter options.

The lessening of barrel length also sparked curiosity about the center rib, which had more purposes than just holding the barrels together. They clearly differed from the 30-inch and 28-inch barreled guns produced around the same period.

But there is still a discussion in the 21st century about the advantages of various barrel lengths as they relate to contemporary clay target guns despite the superiority of fast gun handling.

Longer barrels for shooting have become more popular lately. This is especially true for barrels up to 36 inches. However, not many trap shooters would pack a 36-inch barrel in an attempt to improve their shot; there are many other factors that go into it including practicality.

Overall, long guns are winning right now. 30-inch barrels are now acceptable even for Skeet shooting, whereas anything less than 28 inches is only deemed appropriate for Olympic Skeet.

What’s The Best Size for Sport Shooting?

What’s The Best Size for Sport Shooting

Clay pigeon shooters tend to like barrel lengths between 30 and 32 inches. But again, aiming precision at longer shorts is only one of many considerations to be taken into account.

In the 1960s, 26-inch barrels were the standard for skeet, but today, many shooters who compete in the sport use barrels that are 30 inches or longer. There is a lot of personal preference at play though, but the trend is toward longer barrels. Here is a quick rule of thumb:

  • Trap shooting: 32 to 34 inches; most common 34-inch single barrel
  • Skeet shooting: 26 and 32 inches, 28” being the most common
  • Sporting Clays: typical sizes range from 28 to 34 inches
  • Upland shooting: 24 to 30 inches with 26″ being the most popular
  • Waterfowl: 28 to 32 inches, with 30″ being the most popular

Trap Shooting Vs Sporting Clays: Gun Barrels

Trap Shooting Vs Sporting Clays Gun Barrels

Trap guns are known to have longer barrels than other types of firearms. This is mainly because most trap shooters tend to take shots at a longer range.

Therefore, a longer sighting plane is maybe more suitable for a longer shot and effective visual acquisition of the target when shooting at such ranges- although there are other factors to be considered as well. In doubles, these guns are set for the second shot.

Note that there’s a rather brief gun movement involved in trap shooting, and therefore a little extra forward weight will deliver added momentum to the shooters’ swing, which is preferable for targets that are taken at distances between 35 and 40 yards.

The stance or posture of a trap shooter, who typically shoots with a pre-mounted firearm, is inherently different from that of, say, the sporting shooter, who would have to bring the gun to his shoulder in a single, fluid motion while maintaining a relaxed yet upright stance.

The gun mount used by the trap shooters is generally slower and more methodical. The shoulders are elevated, shifted a little bit forward, and the stock is then put in the shoulder. The feet are normally positioned in a way that allows for free lateral movement to the right and left.

The head position should be inclined forward with the face firmly planted on the stock. Although shooting styles will differ due to the substantial physical differences amongst shooters, excessive motions that can cause stress in any region of the body should be avoided.

All of this is done to secure a posture and technique that allows for prompt, yet deliberate movement, which is mostly determined by how clearly the shooter views the target

The easiest approach to accomplish this is with the head not leaning too far forward and the eyes as central as possible. The rib of the barrel may be quite important in this.

Experts also have it that a more upright position can allow for a greater view, and this brings about the high rib. Meanwhile, a flat rib will inevitably necessitate the head to be leaned further forward.

How To Choose the Best Barrel For Your Game

How To Choose the Best Barrel For Your Game

While gun manufacturers are always making changes in an effort to increase sales, shooters are always looking for that quick fix that has the potential of making them a better shot.

But there are no such tricks to becoming a better shot. Instead, consider using a barrel length that is appropriate for both you and your game. Any other factor should follow after you’re comfortable and confident in your firearm. Just choose what feels great and have fun playing!

Clay Gun Barrels: The Right Choke Selection

Clay Gun Barrels The Right Choke Selection

Unlike handguns and rifles that fire bullets one at a time, shotguns can fire many pellets at once (collectively known as “shot”. And hundreds of these pellets can be fired from a single shotgun shell depending on their size.

However, shot pellets naturally have a tendency to break apart quickly as they travel toward a target for a variety of reasons. For this reason, the choke comes in handy to regulate the shot’s spread and modifies it to suit various shotguning ranges.

So obviously, it is advantageous to have a rifle with choke constriction that corresponds to the target at a particular range. Chokes are available in different forms with the most common ones being full choke, modified choke, cylinder choke, mod choke, and improved cylinder.

Some shooting games have adopted the interchangeable choke tube rather than having to use the same choke for different applications. On a sporting course such as sporting clays, one thing that you would be unwise to undervalue is the ideal pattern for every target.

Even though shooting has been available for centuries, its popularity is continually rising. The older generation of shooters, who spent the majority of their lives without the benefits of choke constrictions probably disapproved of them because of their appearance and the potential for muzzle heaviness they involved.

The younger generation, however, has no such reservations since they believe that as long as they serve their interests, they will make use of them.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

As you can see, there are two different types of trap guns, the top barrel, and the bottom barrel. Bottom barrel guns are mostly available in both single-barrel and double-barrel models.

On the other hand, over-barrel guns are only available in single barrels. Both are available in either right-hand or left-hand models. The most appropriate pick will depend on what feels more comfortable for the barrel selector.

Hopefully, you enjoyed learning about trap shooting and you can now make the most of your next Trap Shooting experience. So what are you waiting for? Grab your gear, and get out there!

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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