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Old April 7, 2013, 04:11 PM   #1
klb1217
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New to Trap - Need some shopping advice

Hello, everyone! I am new to trap, and already an addict. I love it! I have been lucky enough to be able to try a variety of shotguns and have kind of narrowed it down. Well, at least I know what is uncomfortable and what is more comfortable.

I am a 5'-4" woman of average build. I don't mind weight, and in fact liked the heavier (but not the heaviest) shotguns. They felt more solid than the lighter ones. Heck, my banjo weighs in at over 13 pounds so anything lighter that is a piece of cake! (not that I shoot with my banjo, although my playing could possibly kill someone...)

I noodled around and found that if I measure from the crook of my arm to approx. the middle knuckle of my trigger finger, that is my LOP. It is about 13-1/4".

I really like the Browning 12-gauge shotguns. I do not care for the semi-autos. My husband has a Citori Special Trap Edition (30", adj. comb), but it is just a bit too long, too heavy, and the LOP is not comfortable. Yes, I can shoot it but it is very tiring after a while. I see myself eventually trying my hand at the other clay sports - skeet and sporting clays, so ideally I would like an O/U. However, given my choices I am beginning to thing a dedicated, single shot trap gun is the way to go for now, and then if I ever get into the others deal with that then. I live near a Beretta shooting facility where I can rent a gun for the day, so I can always do that if the skeet/clays bug bites.

I really liked the way the shorter stocks felt when I tried out a couple of guns yesterday. So given that, I've been investigating the Micro models at Browning -- Citori Micro Midas Satin Hunter (13" LOP, 26" barrel, O/U), the BT-99 Micro (13-3/4" LOP, 30" Barrel, single), or the BT-99 Micro Midas (13" LOP, 28" or 30" barrel, single). I can't get my hands on any of them to actually FEEL them but I know I like the Citori line. I just don't know if the 13" LOP is a touch too short (13-3/4" of the BT-99 Micro may be just right). I am also concerned about a 26" barrel -- everyone seems to be going with a really long barrel. The other thought is to eventually get the standard LOP Citori (14-3/8") and replace the recoil pad for something much thinner. That would buy me at least 3/4" and would likely do the job.

Way too much information out there, and I am just not sure where to go. I would really like to get my own equipment and try to get comfortable with it. Right now, I am relying upon the "kindness of strangers" for my firearm.

Oh, and FWIW, I saw a Franchi Instinct SL that I really liked the feel of - but again, the LOP is a bit too long.

Any advice? Thoughts?

Thanks in advance!

Kathy

Last edited by klb1217; April 7, 2013 at 04:26 PM.
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Old April 7, 2013, 07:46 PM   #2
zippy13
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Greetings Kathy, and welcome aboard.

After you become well acclimated to standard trap, you'll probably want to shoot trap doubles, too. Considering this, you may wish to limit your search to a trap combo gun -- one action with single and O/U barrels.
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Old April 7, 2013, 08:37 PM   #3
Virginian-in-LA
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Measuring from your finger to the crook of your elbow only tells you how far it is from your finger to the crook of your elbow.
When you throw up a gun, where is it pointing, BEFORE you correct? You need to get to a good gun store and try some on for size.
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Old April 8, 2013, 09:40 AM   #4
BigD_in_FL
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^^^^ +1 to getting a good store to fit you
women have different requirements than men when it comes to fit - pitch, toe, and cast factor to a bigger degree so take the time to get it done. Start with those Browning models you mentioned and go from there. Welcome to the fun addiction known as clay target shooting!
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Old April 8, 2013, 12:43 PM   #5
BigJimP
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Unless you are really addicted to singles in Trap ....an O/U or a gas operated semi-auto are better choices than a gun like a BT-99. Like Zippy said ....it just makes it more versatile...in case you want to shoot some doubles or Continental Trap.

Brownings most versatile Trap gun is their XT Trap ....but it sounds like length of pull will be a big issue unless you have someone local that can modify the stock a little bit for you.

A model like the XT-Gold with the Gra Coil installed in it ...may give you enough adjustability on length of pull ....and with a different recoil pad...in a 30" it might work for you.

http://www.browning.com/products/cat...id=013&tid=228

I think you'll find the adjustability of the GraCoil to your advantage - especially for pitch and toe ...
--------
You could have a GraCoil system cut into any gun of course....but I suggest you stay away from combs that are angled ...and stay with a parallel comb gun.../ maybe even a gun like the Citori XS Skeet with the adj parallel comb ..and then have the stock modified and a GraCoil fit to it ...Briley Mfg in Texas is one shop that I'd trust to do the work - but there are others around ...Cole in Pa, etc.....

That way with the GraCoil adjustability ...you could have it set for 13 1/2" and get at least 1/4" of adjustabilty both directions.

You might also shop some of the bigger dealers in the country - Pacific Coast, DuPont, etc....and see what they might have with shorter length of pulls ...that were tailored for young shooters or people that need shorter lengts of pull. None of the big shops advertize everything they have in inventory .../ but you'll see these shops advertizing in magazines like Shotgun Sports, etc...that are dedicated to "target shotguns".
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Old April 8, 2013, 03:04 PM   #6
klb1217
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Thanks so much for the replies.

I've called any dealer that is within a couple hour drive to see if they have ANYTHING in stock with a shorter LOP. I am SOL at this point. I don't have much faith in the couple of local dealers I have been to - they seem to be of the "oh, suck it up and deal with it" philosophy...

A couple of questions on modifying a stock to fit -
1. Does it ruin the value of the gun, especially if you have invested some significant coin into an XT Gold or something similar?
2. Is it possible to "shim" the stock?

If, and this is a big if, I were to go with something like the Citori Micro Midas Satin Hunter would I be able to put some sort of shim between the butt and the recoil pad if the 13" LOP was too short? And is the grip length also modified on these youth models? I can't seem to find any info on that.

I really would like to stick with an O/U to give me that flexibility to try the other clay sports.

Almost forgot - what about the 26" barrel length on the Micro Midas? Seems short to me... maybe 28" would be better, but they do not offer it. In your experience, would a 26" barrel suffice? I know it would probably be fine for skeet and clays, but wondering on trap.
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Old April 8, 2013, 03:35 PM   #7
BigJimP
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Yes, if you shorten the length of pull on a stock by cutting the stock - so the gun cannot be returned to its original dimensions...it significantly reduces the value of the gun....because its not "shootable" by 90% or more of the buyers out there....

No you can't shim an O/U stock ...between receiver and stock / but yes, you can put spacers between the stock and the recoil pad. But that's typically done to lengthen the length of pull.../ and appearance, is kind of a downside..

26" barrels are awful short by today's standards.

A 30" barreled O/U is about the same overall length as a pump or semi-auto with a 28" barrel. Going below 28" on an O/U tends to make the gun "whippy" where you tend to slap at targets vs make a smooth swing and follow thru. In general, I would not go below a 28" O/U for Skeet or anything else.

Most of us tend to go to longer and heavier guns for Trap ( I go to a 32" O/U at about 10 lbs ) ....vs my primary guns for skeet/sporting clays and bird hunting are all 30" barrels at around 8.5 lbs.../ there is way less left to right or right to left barrel movement in Trap than the other clay target games....so a longer and heavier gun helps with the smooth swing and on follow thru. Where a 10 lb gun is a little too much for the faster games of skeet or sporting clays.

But what works for me at 6'5" and 290 lbs ...may not work for you....
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Old April 8, 2013, 05:26 PM   #8
klb1217
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Thanks, Big Jim. That is what I thought.

Virginian - what do you mean by "When you throw up a gun, where is it pointing, BEFORE you correct?"
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Old April 8, 2013, 06:16 PM   #9
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Take a gun you are considering, find a spot in your home (unloaded gun of course) - typically a corner where walls and ceilings meet. Stare at it, close your eyes, mount the gun and then open your eyes - is the gun pointing at the spot you were looking at? IF it does, then your gun is real close to fitting properly
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Old April 8, 2013, 06:33 PM   #10
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BigDin's recommendation is spot on..../ I use a light switch in a wall, at the end of my rec room...but its a great way to work on your gun mount at home ...( especially if you haven't shot in a while )..../ do this mounting drill about 20 times.....3 or 4 evenings a week...before you head to the range.

but I don't know how many targets you have under your belt at this point....and whether you've really grooved your gun mount .../ if you crab into the gun ...or drop your neck or face into the comb after your mount it...your mount can be really inconsistent ---- especially if you're fighting length of pull issues.

....and you don't have a gun right now that fits you ...probably anyway ...to really groove the mount...

but his suggestion is still valid...
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Old April 8, 2013, 07:42 PM   #11
Virginian-in-LA
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With a shotgun, your eye is the rear sight. So the gun needs to fit such that when you mount it, it is pointing at what you want to shoot. The brain can learn to adjust for discrepancies, but if a gun fits properly it's a whole lot easier to hit what you are shooting at. Best quick amd dirty way I have found is to get in a completely dark room with some of those laser shells; work like a meeting pointer. Have a friend shine a spot on the wall with a Mini Mag Lite and mount the gun quickly and pull the trigger. When the laser hits the spot, you're there.
In a store, fix your eyes on an object, and when you mount the gun don't look at the gu at first. When you do look at the gun, where is it pointed? Not perfect because you will have a tendency to adjust.
If you get a gun that's too short, it is easy to install a spacer at the butt end of the stock between the butt plate or recoil pad and the stock, BUT, I am betting you would be fine with a 12-1/2" or 13" LOP. Unless your hands hang down to your knees, 5'-4" is rather short. A whole lot of women and kids fell in love with my Remington Youth Stock - 13" LOP.
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Old April 10, 2013, 09:54 PM   #12
Dreaming100Straight
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It isn't clear to me that LOP is that important a metric. What seem more important to me is the distance from the small of the stock to the trigger. Supposedly I am about the size for which many guns are designed, but I have small (cadet size) hands.
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Old April 10, 2013, 10:39 PM   #13
zippy13
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Quote:
What seem more important to me is the distance from the small of the stock to the trigger.
Back in the day, your local gunsmith could set your trigger back or forth, as needed, to match your grip. These days, many guns have have adjustable triggers. If your hands aren't average, you may want an adjustable trigger.
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Old April 10, 2013, 10:44 PM   #14
BigD_in_FL
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That could also be remedied by the type of stock grip - a very tightly curved pistol grip as on the new Browning is much different than the relaxed pistol grip on something like the SKB - meaning your LOP could vary as much as an inch or better depending on which one.
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Old April 11, 2013, 08:14 AM   #15
klb1217
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Virginian - Thanks for the explanation. After a day of hitting pretty much every store between White Plains and Albany, I have discovered a number of things. First, the typical +/- 14-3/8" LOP and a 30" barrel forces me to lift my shoulders, straighten my arms and push away from my body in order to bring the stock to my cheek... no wonder my shoulders and neck were killing me after this past weekend of shooting! Second, I did not do very well with the exercise you described. Third and blah blah blah, I was able to try a few with shortened stocks - Bingo! What a HUGE difference. I also prefer the 28" barrel. It was much smoother in all ways.

Dreaming - LOP is a very important metric if you have arms shorter than the average grown man... as do most women and youths. I agree that the grip also a factor.

I walked into one store that actually had a used 1985 Beretta Silver Pigeon with a stock that had been shortened and a 28" barrel (they were asking $899). Well used with a nice patina to it. It felt pretty much perfect... but I am wary of used items with no warranty or return policy, and that have no documented provenance so I walked away from it. BUT the lesson learned is that a shortened stock and a 28" barrel is probably the direction I should go.
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Old April 11, 2013, 09:56 AM   #16
Jim Watson
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Most trap clubs have a contact with a gunsmith for stock work. Ask around.
You could start with about any shotgun that you liked the looks and reputation of and have the stock made to fit.
It would be simple to shorten a stock and fit a cushiony new recoil pad. After that, a "split comb" to allow for adjustment of drop and even cast is a common alteration. Adjustable buttplates are possible, too. Mechanical screw adjustments available or just spacers under the recoil pad will take care of that. You can compensate for summer - winter wear.

If you want to try other games, I think screw chokes important. Trap singles modified or improved modified, handicap improved modified or full, doubles improved cylinder and full.
Skeet gets skeet (open) choke and most sporting clays shooters start out with improved cylinder and "light modified" but with others on hand to suit odd setups.
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Old April 11, 2013, 10:50 AM   #17
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I would suggest you go back and take a 2nd look at that used Beretta...if it has changeable screw in chokes in it. If it is a fixed choke gun ...then its way overpriced /especially if the stock has been shortened.

Provenance on a used gun isn't that big a deal....any competent gunsmith or experienced shooter can remove the stock on an O/U and inspect the internal works on the gun ...inspect the barrels ..and inspect the barrel to receiver connection for wear. How tight the barrels are - when you open the gun ...vs do they fall open when you move the lever is an indication of how much its been shot.

If I found any "galling" in the barrel to receiver connection ...or evidence of "bubba-fied" gunsmithing ...then I'd pass on the gun. The barrels should look clean and unscored of course.

But an O/U is easy to check for reasonable care...and while this is a lower end Beretta in their O/U line of guns...( in 1985 it probably sold new for about $ 600)...even if its had 250,000 shells thru it ( and it probably hasn't) ....it still might be just what you need.

To me.....if it has screw in chokes ( and comes with 5 or 6 ), has some kind of a case, is in good shape.....its still shortened, limiting the number of potential buyers significantly ...but its a "field grade" gun, its not one of the upper grade Beretta target guns...I'd probably offer the seller $ 600 and consider it a good deal / but not $ 900 unless it is almost new in box spotless.
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Old April 11, 2013, 11:23 AM   #18
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From White Plains to Albany puts you in the neighborhood of Orvis at Sandanona - great place for tips, fitting, instructions
Northern NJ has Griffin and Howe, another great place for instruction and fitting

Either can get you your dimensions so you know exactly what you need to have done to any stock on any gun you decide on. (Their lessons are top-notch as well)
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Old October 25, 2013, 10:56 AM   #19
klb1217
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Update!

Well, after digesting all of your advice, experiencing a horrible on-line purchase, finally getting my Browning BT-99 Micro and enduring a broken middle finger on my right hand, months of adjustments with sights, glasses, way to much information going through my head, dealing with my "head" getting in my way, and six months of Saturdays...

I SHOT MY FIRST 25 STRAIGHT! Woot!

It has been a very frustrating ride to say the least. I knew I could do it, because I had done 19, 20, 21, etc. early on. But then I started thinking about it way too much, and got in my own way. I HATE it when I suck at something and I let it all get to me. Most of the summer, I was stuck in the low teens... even thought what clays I did hit were blasted. Then a couple of weekends ago, one of the guys was joking and said he once just closed his eyes and shot. Okay, not the safest recommendation, but I heard what he was trying to say. I am very myopic and have bad astigmatism. I ditched my Progressive triple prescription lenses early on for an old pair of single vision glasses I had lying around. Not perfect in terms of distance focus, but way better than the Progressives. I was spending so much time trying to find that sweet spot that it was screwing me up.

Long story short, I decided to just take my glasses off. Everything was very mushy/blurry, but I set up on the house, called for the bird, and just started blasting them. Shot 21 that round. What it proved to me is that it is definitely in my head, and I was not trusting in the fact that I had the mechanics and just needed to go with the instinct. I also needed to figure out a way to calm my heart down (it POUNDS!) and breath and not think about it. Last weekend I ditched the glasses, recited my grocery list in my head over and over again or thought about steel and concrete details, took a LOT of deep breaths, tried to concentrate on one clay at a time -- AND I DID IT!

I really feel that I had that moment of clarity where it all just came together. Of course, now I have to try to not pressure myself too much to repeat it. Of course I want to again and again and again, but I need to try to not THINK about it.

Just wanted to share, and thank you again for your shopping advice.
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Old October 25, 2013, 11:49 AM   #20
BigJimP
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Congratulations..../ sometimes its hard to get over that little mental hurdle...

------------

( but I also hope you're wearing some kind of safety glasses ... !! ) its pretty important...you can get some blowback ( powder, gas etc....from shooters beside you, etc ...) ...on adjacent stations / if they get a hard left or right and shoot very late .../ plus "stuff happens"....and an eye injury is never good. Most clubs / most squad leaders --- wouldn't let you shoot without safety glasses on...
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Old October 25, 2013, 11:53 AM   #21
klb1217
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Thanks, and yes. Last thing I need is another injury, especially an eye injury!
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Old October 25, 2013, 03:17 PM   #22
BigJimP
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Good ! .........now let's see some notes on 50 straight / or 75 ...or 100 ???

One Target at a Time....( they say !! )...
....(and for the record, I've never run 100 straight in Trap singles either....(and I've only ran a few 100's in skeet 2 or 3 times, and then only in the 12ga ...never in 20ga, 28ga ...or the .410 )....and none in the last 5 years - with my eyes getting worse...
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Old October 26, 2013, 01:50 AM   #23
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Quote:
I SHOT MY FIRST 25 STRAIGHT! Woot!
Congratulations!!
Kathy, I'm sure there are TFL members who are envious of your progress.
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Old October 26, 2013, 09:39 AM   #24
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Hooray!

Good on ya, for the straight. The first one is always the hardest.......duhhhh.

You hit the "key to the kingdom" in your last post. One bird at a time.

And hey, after all that what did you settle on for a trap gun?

Welcome to the addiction.
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Old October 26, 2013, 07:31 PM   #25
Dreaming100Straight
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Great work. It took me much longer to get where you are.
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