View Full Version : Shotgun Instruction

January 19, 2011, 12:30 AM
Can anyone recommend a good book, video or course in shotgun shooting. I have only put 100 rounds through my 870 now on trap range and all I can be sure of is that either I am not mounting it right or the fit is so bad I cannot mount it properly.

I am leery of taking well intentiioned tips like the ones I got today that I am postive are not the way I want to shoot. I hate to pay the money for expensive lessons, but a group lesson may be the way to go. I am in Orange County, CA.

the rifleer
January 19, 2011, 12:40 AM
The best teachers is time and patience. You will learn what works and what doesn't. No matter what book you read or what video you watch, it all comes down to trigger time. Shoot several hundred rounds and get comfortable before you start worrying about form and things like that.

Watch the "Wednesday night at the range" on the outdoor channel. Its about two or three hours of shooting shows. "Gun Nuts" has their "smoke 'em on station", which always pertains to shooting shotguns. They are very helpful tips.

January 19, 2011, 12:58 AM
Rifleer. I hear you on trigger time. I just don't want to ruin my rotator cuff if something can be done about the basic manner in which I mount the gun. It is a standard Remington 870 that supposedly should fit me not too horribly as I am 5' 8" with 32+" arms and a not to unusual a build.

January 19, 2011, 04:10 AM
The best teachers is time and patience. You will learn what works and what doesn't.
I beg to differ, it's been my experience that leaning to shoot by trial and error is frequently futile. I've know many shooters who have a lot of years and thousands of rounds of experience and they still don't have a good foundation in the basics. Their practice time does little more than commit their basic errors to muscle memory. Something as simple as "head down and follow through" is not necessarily instinctive. You may be missing a lot of targets because you don't stay on the gun. Unless someone (like a coach/instructor/mentor) points this out to you, you may never identify your problem and no amount of trigger time is going to help.

You might give John Herkowitz at Pacific Sporting Arms, 626-633-1002, a call. He may be able to offer suggestions for beginner's instructions.

Dave McC
January 19, 2011, 08:15 AM
I learned through trial and error, and it took me one heckuva long time to get to this point.

There are better ways.

A couple things that will help, besides a week with Will Fennell.....

Dry mount at home to build muscle memory. After ensuring your weapon is empty,focus on the corner where two walls meet the ceiling. REALLY focus.

Mount your shotgun, concentrating on that corner and working on smoothness and getting the thing touching your cheek in the same place,the same pressure. Repeat 25 times a few times a week.

A Mini Mag flashlight placed in the muzzle can help also. Focus the beam tightly. Put the light on that corner and keep it there as you mount.

Review the thread on Proper Mounting Techniques in the archives. Make that optimum mount happen.

Also, most ranges have some kind of classes going on. An Intro to Shotgunning class may really improve things.

Also, your apprenticeship needs no heavy loads. Use the lightest loads you can find or make.

Also, check for eye dominance. An amazing number of people handicap themselves by not doing so OR insisting they can shoot well with mixed dominance. Shoot off the shoulder that matches your master eye.


January 19, 2011, 08:39 AM
Get some basic instruction. It will really speed the process up. They will get eye dominance and proper stance worked out at the very beginning. I would advise a NSSA or NSCA instructor. Ive been through both instructor classes, and Im working on my level II NSCA certification. The few NRA instructors Ive worked with were great safety instructors, but not so much for actual shooting fundamentals and target breaking technique. The NSCA guys were at a completely different level.

January 19, 2011, 11:43 AM
I am going to look into a basic "shooting" class. I think I am pretty good on safety and even remember taking a basic NRA course in the basement of Hinshaw's, Arcadia, in 1959.

Zippy. I will call John Herkowitz. At this point I am not that concerned with scoring hits, but with getting down the basics of mounting so as to minimize pain. I suspect the gun is a pretty decent fit.

Dave. That is what a want. A class in basic. Yesterday before going to the range I saw a brief video on that practicing with the flashlight in the muzzle as you described and it makes sense

There is no need to tell me to avoid heavy loads; especially not until I learn to mount the gun properly. Ouch. I don't bruise and I have a good one this a.m. That is literally the ugly. The good may be that it shows where I am placing the stock; just an inch medial of the armpit which I believe is over the head of the humerus. I really am having trouble finding the "pocket" which is probably about as basic as it gets.

I have looked at several threads on mounting and while I think I understand, I know I am not getting it close to correct as far as the most basic thing, placing the gun in the pocket.

LSnSC. Thanks for explaining the difference between the two kinds of instructors.

January 19, 2011, 12:12 PM
Lots of good info ..../ doing this all on your own ...is the hard way to do it ...and you may develop all kinds of bad habits. Until I finally met someone that could "teach me" the right way to do things, help me with gun fit ....I had a hard time.

But if you have shoulder pain - that gun may not come close to fitting you .../ or there may be some significant fundamental issues on the way you mount the gun ...picking up your head, etc - hard to tell without seeing what you're doing. When you're shooting an "angled comb" gun like the stock on a typical 870 - moving back a little or changing the angle of the comb - will probably make a huge difference. You can do that with stick on comb pads ...different recoil pads .....or even going to an "outfit" ....where you shoot with a fatigue sweater or something under your shooting vest ...

But a good lesson will help you sort all that out hopefully too.

You may have a number of guys that can help you at your local club ...ask around ....sometimes the quietest guys won't help you unless you ask - but they may know the most !! In general, I would avoid the guy that is the loudest ....and has all the answers ....and often tells you, you have the wrong gun ....and just starts to tell you everything he knows .... ( every club has at least 5 of these guys !!! )....

A good lesson from a certified instructor is always a good idea - even for experienced shooters. But you have to find someone that will help you with your goals ...and listen to you .../ not force you into their "program" ....and that's hard to find.

But there are some good DVD's out there too - from big name instructors and shooters.... Sunrise Video - is a good source...

I've used a number of their DVD's - Bobby Fowler Jr, Blakely, Todd Bender, etc .... but if you're looking for something specific to "Trap" --- I would probably start with Harrison's DVD...

January 19, 2011, 12:38 PM
Thanks, BigJim. I found Dave's archive on Proper Mounting Technique and it helps to clarify some things and may correct others. I have to work with it. I have a feeling any decent instructor should immediately spot one or two major things that I can't figure. The one problem I don't have is cheek slap.

I think I already got some "help" from the "loudest" member.

January 19, 2011, 01:19 PM
I'm glad you don't have any cheek slap ....

On guns that are too short for me ....when I mount them, I tend to push them away from my shoulder ....and then they smack me ...( it even happened on a youth stock 20ga / when I was trying to demonstrate something to one of the new shooters the other day ...and it hurt ...) ...

so I understand ...

January 19, 2011, 04:20 PM
Orange co has some gun clubs and outdoor shooting ranges. My cousin shoots from time to time out there. Go to one and ask if they have an instructor that can spend some time with you. He will be able to offer help. It will make a huge difference in how you shoot.

January 19, 2011, 05:17 PM
MarkJ. Where is there a shotgun range in Orange County? As it is, I have been driving to Prado on the outskirts of Chino over in LACO. Prado is still not quite in full operation since being flooded, but I suppose that is a logical place to ask about professional instruction. Thanks. I read on another forum where there were group classes for introductory shooters, cannot recall if it was trap or skeet, being given in El Monte and I am going to look into that.

On thing, though. As miserable as my shoulder feels, instead of shooting less and parking the 870 primarily purchased for defense in the closet, if the problem turns out to be fit that means,

1. If it is the gun, I either modify and buy a long ribbed barrel or

2. I park the HD short barrel 870 in the closet and buy a better fitting gun with the long ribbed barrel. Possibly a gas operated semi or one of the Bennellis with a recoil compensation system.

January 19, 2011, 05:44 PM
Besides fit, ammo selection is crucial to recoil reduction. When I dropped from 1-1/8 to 1oz, it was very nice. Dropped further to 7/8, even better - now shooting a 3/4oz load, and 1oz feel like someone hit me with a hammer.....If you reload, you can really tailor the loads to your needs

January 19, 2011, 06:33 PM
Oneounceload. Duh! Yesterday, thinking it may help I grabbed a box of reduced recoil remington 1 oz 8s at the Wallmart as my daughter was rushing me to get her to work. "Remington Game Loads." Strangely, it kicked more than the 25 target loads I shot first. I chalked it up to my shoulder being aggravated by the first 25.

I just went and looked at the empty box and while it is 1 oz 8 shot, it isn't reduced recoil. "Remington Game Loads." Not only that, while my cheapie Federal target loads are 1200 FPS, this is 1290. I am guessing that the reason I felt more of a kick from the 8 shot load ofer the 7.5 is the increased velocity.

Meanwhile, as my shoulder turns deeper shades of black and blue, I notice an absence of any wrist or base of thumb pain, some of which I had with my first day of shooting, when I also shot 50.

As I am not reloading, what commercially available reduced recoil trap ammo shoud I look for and what is the lighest loads I will probably find available.

January 19, 2011, 07:15 PM
If you are getting bruised, there is a serious issue with your fit in your shoulder.

As to low recoil, Kemen has a 1200 fps 7/8oz load, Winchester has a subsonic load at around 950fps.

My 3/4oz reloads are running about 1250 - give or take - I took an established 7/8 load and just drop 3/4 oz instead - it will be a little faster, but lighter kicking.

Recoil is a factor of velocity and mass of the "ejecta" which includes powder and wad - not just the shot. Since powder and wads are basically the same throughout, the payload and speed really make the difference.

Practice your mount - make sure things are correct before you aggravate something.

Good luck!

January 19, 2011, 07:25 PM
zippy13 wrote:

Originally Posted by the rifler
The best teachers is time and patience. You will learn what works and what doesn't.

I beg to differ, it's been my experience that leaning to shoot by trial and error is frequently futile. I've know many shooters who have a lot of years and thousands of rounds of experience and they still don't have a good foundation in the basics. Their practice time does little more than commit their basic errors to muscle memory. Something as simple as "head down and follow through" is not necessarily instinctive. You may be missing a lot of targets because you don't stay on the gun. Unless someone (like a coach/instructor/mentor) points this out to you, you may never identify your problem and no amount of trigger time is going to help.

Whoa! I'll second what zippy said.

There are some basics that if you don't learn them from the start, you'll be practicing and learning bad habits from the start!

January 19, 2011, 07:59 PM
OneOunce is right on the money too .....

base your shell selection primarily on velocity - not shot size. There is no reason to shoot anything over 1150 fps / while you're having shoulder issues.

The difference in recoil, in a 7 1/2 lb gun ....between 1200 fps and 1290 fps is almost 15% ...so no wonder it smacked you around ....

and stay with a 1 oz load of 7 1/2's, or 8's or even 9's .... 9's will break Trap targets from the 16 Yard line just fine ....

Remington Gun Club or Estate or Rio --- offer less expensive shells -at reduced velocities ...in 1 oz configuration. But when you find a case / buy the whole case ....you'll use them up.../ or ask for a case discount.

Let that shoulder heal before you head back out again ....or its going to start causing flinching issues, etc ...that are hard to get away from ... Take your time a little / let yourself heal.

January 19, 2011, 09:40 PM
IF you can add weight to the gun - in the stock and forearm areas that will help a lot as well - add 8oz in each area, the recoil reduction will be a lot - coupled with a slow, light load - your shoulder will thank you

I ran some numbers with the 10X recoil calculator:

3/4 oz @ 1200fps in a 7.5# gun is 9.7 ft/lbs
3/4 oz @ 1200fps in a 8.25# gun is 8.82 ft/lbs

1 oz @ 1200fps in a 7.5# gun is 15.8 ft/lbs
1 oz @ 1200fps in a 8.25# gun is 14.35 ft/lbs

1oz @ 1300fps in a 7.5# gun is 18.5 ft/lbs
1 oz @1300fps in a 8.25# gun is 16.9

I shoot the 3/4 @ 1200 +/- - from the numbers above, it is almost half the recoil I used to use...............over the course of a day shooting 100-200 rounds, that's a lot of abuse I am NOT getting hammered by

January 19, 2011, 10:04 PM
Hi Klawman

I've been an NSCA shotgun instructor for 10 years now. I have seen it all and have the pics to prove it. Students can't beleive what they doing, unless they see it from my end of the gun, UNLOADED, of course.

Spend the $50 for a "certified" not "qualified" instructor and you will be thanking me.

You can find them for your area at

Shoot well!

January 20, 2011, 12:29 AM
I feel more optimistic now.

As much as I hate to admit that I was firing 1290 FPS 1 because I simply grabbed the wrong box, things should be better with the standard 1200 FPS and better yet with the reduced recoil.

I cannot think of a more productive use of money than to take a lesson.

Would the best way of adding weight be to pick up a long barrel. (One reason I chose the Remington over the Mossberg was I understood the heavier 870 receiver should help with recoil. Once and a while I make the right decision.) I don't know how else to add weight. Clamp something to the barrel like a weapon light? I imagine some kind of clamp on weight system is sold just for this purpose. One of the guys was explaining how he added weight to the end of his OU, but I don't recall how. I think I saw some guys shooting that appeared to have a lead weight threaded into the ends of their barrels.

I can imagine adding some weight to the receiver similar to the manner in which sidesaddles are affixed. That or something strapped to he stock.

One result of this fiasco is I know where my stock was shouldered. Great outlince of the toe of the stock. Would it gross you out if I uploaded a pic in the mirror.

Oneounces explanation of the factors at play in generating recoil really help to understand the relation of the weight of the "ejecta" (I have to be careful not to say that around the women. they would die laughing.), velocity, and the weight of the weapon. It takes me back 30+ years ago to my one and only physics class.

I am the type of stubborn guy that usually teaches himself how to do things. (Taught myself to not only hang crown molding in my home, but to cut it using both of the two accepted methods and to also cope inside corners (with online help from professional carpenters.) This time though, I am not only sucking up the knowledge you guys have acquired over years of shooting, but I am going to invest at least some funds in beginners lessons.

The hardest part will be waiting for the shoulder to recover, especially as it seems there are several things that may alleviate the problem.

I took a look at the list of instructors giving lessons to beginners and their are a few in the area of where I shoot and one lives in the same master plan community as me. Somehow I don't think anyone out here does anything for $50, but I will call some of the guys and see if I can set something up.

Thank you all. Tomorrow I will hit WalMart to pickup a minimag light to do that pointing drill with. Thinking about it I was aiming and not pointing, but that is another step. I don't care if I hit zip, no not zippy, at first if I just get down mounting. (Never to be discussed in front of the women along with ejecta.)

January 20, 2011, 12:17 PM
IF you add weight, I would try to add it in a way that you get the balance point where you want it. If you only add weight to the buttstock, and it changes the balance to the rear, your barrel will feel "whippy" as you swing it. Most folks that shoot driven birds like a gun perfectly balanced on the hinge pin so it moves effortlessly, while clay target shooters seem to prefer a little muzzle heavy gun tends to swing smoother on the follow through. With the 870, taking an empty hull and filling it with lead and placing it behind the mag spring will add about 4oz or so. Add another one in the butt and you've gained a 1/2 pound very easily. If you still need more, add another in each location.

Get the gun fitted, a good recoil reduction system - not necessarily just a pad - and shoot light loads - you should be good to go once the shoulder heals

Good luck

January 20, 2011, 12:34 PM
OneOunce's way to add weight works on a pump gun pretty well.

On my guns, what I do is check the balance point / put some tape on the receiver - and mark the balance point as you hold the gun level in one hand. Then I add the weight / using OneOunces way - or with a mercury recoi supressor ( if you have room for it ) - or on some guns, especially semi-autos, I use lead tape, from a golf club store - and add about 8" in the area of the forearm / and 8oz in the butt stock ( take the recoil pad off / and pack it in the bolt hole in the stock ) ....and move them back and forth until you get the same balance point.

You can also buy weighted end caps / for the nut that holds the forend on the mag tube.

I'm not a big fan of external barrel weights ...but you could do that as well ( but it scratches up a barrel / and that irritates me ).

What works best - depends on your gun / how much room there is inside the forend.

January 20, 2011, 12:44 PM
As a guy that has had a complete shoulder re-build in my shooting shoulder ..... completely torn rotator cuff, 4 bone spurs, torn bicep .... ( and the 9 months it took me to recover from that surgery - last year ) ....advises me to tell you, don't mess with shoulder pain. My surgeon ground out the bone spurs, repaired the rotator cuff, cut the bicep - and re-attached it with 2 screws mid way up my arm - to the bone.

I was young and stupid / played football on astro-turf that was akin to concrete in the 70's .... and was way too macho when it came to lifting things that were out of my league ( I'm 6'5" and 290 lbs ...and I can move anything ...) and I used to think I was invinceable ..../...but over many years of .... a few motorcycle accidents, a few shoulder dislocations, a few skiing accidents ...and all that stuff adds up. All of the fun I had / and the stupid things I did - contributed to what became constant pain to the point where I couldn't sleep more than an hour at a time / and the eventual surgery last year.

Now as I go into my 60's ....its a burden that I deal with every day ..!!!

Shotgunning didn't hurt me ....and it won't hurt you either / after you get the gun mount and gun fit figured out. I still shoot shotguns once a week today ( reasonably well ) - and a variety of handguns a couple times a week. I have some intermittent nerve issues in my shooting arm and shoulder from the surgery ...but overall I'm in Great Shape ....

... but what I am saying, is take it easy ....let yourself heal !!!

When you get to be an old crabby goat - like some of us - you'll thank us ....

January 20, 2011, 12:53 PM
Oneounce and BigJim.

Th golf tape I am familiar with and I looked around the net and discovered weighted mag caps and clamp on barrel weights. (Like Jim I donn't like the idea of scrathing up the barrel with clamps.) I was trying to figure out a way of slipping something like a snap cap in the mag for weight, but was concentrating on the wrong end. No way would that work since as I racked, even if I was only loading a single shell at a time for trap, it would want to feed the snap cap. What oneounce explained makes sense. It adds weight and still permits me to use the magazine, but it now has a 5 round capacity as opposed to 6, and 5 is plenty. I also like the fact that using an empty hull costs peanuts and allows me to adjust the weight. Thanks again!

January 20, 2011, 01:14 PM
BigJim: I don't know about waiting to turn into an old crabby goat. I am probably older than you (63 and counting) which has something to do with why I have been so careful approaching this sport.

I used to love golf, but I can't touch a club.

That rotator cuff injury of yours was a bitch and it must have been hell to deal with, but the fact that you can shoot suggests that if I do things right things will be a cake walk for me. I was concerned with the rotational aspect of recoil. It hasn't been a problem.

Me, I skied a little and used to ride a street Harley, but fortunately never had a bad accident. (Little guys don't fall as far and impact with less force.)

I will listen and take it easy on my shoulder.

(I went back and saw I misssed the part about the torn bicep. That was nasty. We were all indestructible back then.)

January 20, 2011, 03:23 PM
But I had more fun than most .....:D

You are a little older than I am ....thank you ....I knew there was someone out there ...:rolleyes: ...besides Zippy13 of course ....:p

On all the clay target games - you never need to have more than 1 shell in the mag - so you have plenty of room for weight .../but ideally you want the gun to fit, and swing the same, in the field too. So coming up with something that works for both is a good idea.

Keep the faith ....it will all work out.

Short story - but in 1998 or so, Browning introduced the 525 series Ciroi O/U - factory engraved, great looking gun. I decided I had to have one ....but I didn't know much about gun fit. I paid about $ 2,000 for the gun - one of the first ones on west coast / and it beat the daylights out of me. By station 3 on a sporting course - I would have a face bruise, then bloody cheek ....and I'd finish the round .....big shoulder bruise all the time - let my face heal - pick the scab off ....and do it again in about 2 weeks. I finally fixed it with a stick on comb pad - raising the comb and making it almost parallel to the rib - and adding some to length of pull. I understand not quitting ... But Shotguns just don't come in one size fits all... I have since moved on to other models of the Citori, that fit me a lot better ....no face slap, no bruised shoulders.. Get around some "Skeet" shooters - they seem to really understand this "Gun Fit" issue....

January 20, 2011, 10:57 PM

Got back from WalMart and it doesn't look as though I am going to get the low recoil stuff I should be starting with there.

If I take the 870 in the field, it will be set up completely different than it now. At a minimum, it will have something like a vent rib 28" barrel. I may not need the added weights for clay shooting with such a barrel, only with the current home defense barrel.

I will give it a month but then I may consider another gone for the range and keeping the 870 as is for HD. That or getting the second barrel. First I want to get the basics down.

January 21, 2011, 09:24 AM
Try a place like here:


January 21, 2011, 12:29 PM
oneounceload; I may order from that outfit. Truth be told I am tight with a buck, but in this case it may be worth it to pay theh price to get the ligher loads. First, I think I will follow your advice on adding some weight to the gun and am going to try to pick up a few boxes locally to see how I do with that in the heavier gun. That and I just sent an email requesting info on setting up a lesson.

January 21, 2011, 12:43 PM
Since you're really getting into this stuff ....look at the MEC line of reloaders too ....


Many of us have been reloading shotshells for a long time / primarily because we want a specific velocity with a certain pellet size ....for a specific gague. The MEC Grabber model - is a simple Progressive machine / that manually indexes ...and is a very solid machine. Even though I've gone on to some of their hydraulic machines ....I still have one Mec Grabber in 12ga and one in 20ga that I'm going to pass down to one of the kids pretty soon - that I bought in the 70's ...

Reloading shotshells will also save you a few bucks per box / because you can load a premium quality shell - way less than premium ammo - and still cheaper than the promotional ammo too. But mostly get exactly what you want...my primary 12ga load is 1 oz of 8's at 1225 fps .... but for some of the grandkids I can back that load clear down to 1150 fps ...with just a 10 second bushing change. In 20ga I can load them up to 1oz, down to 7/8 oz ...or even down to 3/4oz like a 28ga load ....

My cost, using current component prices, is $ 3.67 a box for my 12ga loads ...and that's a pretty good savings ....and it adds another factor to the hobby....

January 21, 2011, 01:20 PM
BigJim. I have mused about reloading but am not going to get into that, yet, although I can see its benefits. Not just the direct cost benefit saved if you shoot a lot of rounds, and the ability to customize shot to your needs, but the satisfaction some have expressed from loading.

Still, we have to bear the cost of appropriate equipment in mind; large screen high definition TV for the garage and a frig for necessary refreshments.

I noticed a picture of your table saw and outfeed table on another thread, where you had some of your SGs displayed on it. I also have orders from family members backed up for basic book shelves and things to make on my somewhat new Home Depot granite top. It is probably rather crude compared to what you use but I love it. That is getting a bit off topic for this forum.

January 21, 2011, 02:17 PM
I popped the pad of the stock, which was super easy onece I figured out the screw werre Phillips heads. So exactly what is the proper way to add the weighted shot hulls to the stock? I doubt that I just toss them in the hollow cavity or do I?

As long as I had the pad off I tried mounting the gun and it seemed to fit MUCH better the very first time I threw it up. With the pad it was nearly impossible not to see way to much barrel and now the top of the receiver and the bead is what I see and without scrunching up my neck.

Before shortening anything I will get a pro to check the fit and then consider if it should be cut a tad more to allow for a thicker pad and thicker clothing (tested with a thin shirt).

BigJimP suggested reloading and having looked at the low end machine he suppoed a link for it may be possible not to far down the road. (My wife got her new car.)

For the time being I am going to check out a place called Bas Pro, which has been described like a Disneyland or cornucopia of outdoor supplies. I am pumped.

January 21, 2011, 02:28 PM
For the weight inside the stock / figure out where you want it - how deep in the cavity you want it ... and use a dowel rod / an old towel ...or whatever to take up the space in front and in back of it....so it doesn't slide back and forth - and stays precisely at the point you want it. You can tape the spent hulls together or whatever works / doesn't have to be fancy...just so it doesn't move.

ReCobs Target shop is where I buy my loaders and wads in case quantities....and they're good people.


They have new Grabber models for about $ 370 ....but there are a lot of good used machines around too ...my local gun show always has some. There are cheaper models too ....but I like the capability of the Grabber ...its the low end of the Progressive machines ....but has a good resizer, etc ...and It'll give you a good 5 - 6 boxes an hour with no problem.

Bass Pro, Cabelas, etc are all fun shops to visit ...have a good time ...

January 21, 2011, 02:40 PM
Bass Pro, like Cabela's is a great place to look and touch - but their pricing is a little higher than you can get elsewhere.

As to the leaded hulls - see which one will fit - depending on the bored hole size, usually a 12, but possibly a 20 gauge might be necessary.

If you can't get the crimped ends shut properly, you might ask at your local gun club and see if someone can make you a few of them.

For reloading equipment, once you've figured what hardware you want, look on your local Craig's List, the gun club bulletin board, even Ebay - buying a used press is a lot cheaper than new.

From your description of you not having to "scrunch" down, and the barrel is aligning itself so you do not see barrel or rib, you might be getting close to a good fit. Pick the corner in a room where the ceiling and walls meet, close your eyes, mount the gun, open your eyes - if you are pointing and looking where you were when you closed your eyes, you're pretty close - the proof will be shooting targets

January 21, 2011, 04:31 PM
Well drooling at Bass Pro is out as I now have to meet my son in about an hour, but I went out and picked up mini-Mag flashlight for pointing drills.

I don't understand what oneonunce is saying about the bore size in relation to placing some leaded hulls in the stock. Are you talking about the hole that would be bored in a solid stock to accept the long screw and washer used to fix it to the receiver? Mine is a hollow synthetic stock.

What BigJim is saying about using a towel or what it takes makes sense. One thought I have is to use plastic clamps available at any big box home hardware designed for fastening copper or PVC pipe to house studs. Instead of secriwing them to the inside of the stock, fasten them with a semi-permanent adhesive/glue.

January 21, 2011, 04:59 PM
I don't understand what oneonunce is saying about the bore size in relation to placing some leaded hulls in the stock. Are you talking about the hole that would be bored in a solid stock to accept the long screw and washer used to fix it to the receiver? Mine is a hollow synthetic stock.

Yep, this old man was thinking wood stock and the hole.............

Added: - swapping out the plastic for wood would easily add some recoil-absorbing weight as well

January 21, 2011, 05:23 PM
That's okay oneounce. Given all the people you are helping with different makes and models I would think it would be easily to confuse. And I have thought about a wood stock, but if I do that this one will be kept as is for HD and I may look around for an old fasioned wood stocked/blued shooter. What people say about the wingmasters intrigues me but I guess they are all 2-3/4 inches. Now that I have something I can take my time and see if a good opportunity arises to get something used. (The guy I was shooting with the other day was shooting a 58 year old something that was gorgeous. He shot my little 870 twise on the trap range and nailed them both, not a wing but blasted them.)

Ans as for your help and the help of everyone, I am tickled.

RE the length of the stock, I replaced the pad and once again I was seeing an awful lot of barrel.

January 21, 2011, 06:52 PM
I was thinking wood stock too ....( assumptions..:barf:) ....so OneOunce and I were both envisioning a hole in the stock about 1" in diameter. My Benelli semi-auto has a carbon fibre stock as well / but it was pretty easy to fill the void with the weight wrapped and taped inside a bar towel.

When you say you're seeing a lot of barrel when you mount the gun - that's partly affected by the angle of the comb as well ...so there are a lot of factors working here - to get this gun to fit you right / so it quits beating you up.

The goal is no shoulder pain - even if you shoot 10 - 12 boxes a day...(which many of us do / especially in big 4 day tournaments ). If the gun fits - how many boxes you shoot will not be a factor .....mental fatigue / from watching that many targets ...will be the biggest reason you'll be tired at the end of your day - or at least that should be your goal in my opinion.

January 21, 2011, 07:50 PM
BigJim. There is lot I am going to have to do to shoot well. I didn't even mention that I wear varifocal glasses and suspect I need a pair designed specifically for shooting. As it is, I am looking over the top of the lenses.

January 21, 2011, 08:14 PM
Yes, I wear progressive bi-foculs too ....and they don't work for shooting ...and I even have an extra prism in mine --- because of some eye muscle laziness ... that blurrs my vision in my dominant eye ...off and on ...( makes shooting flying targets a little more challenging ...when there at big fuzzy clouds of 6 of them out there ...)... but what the heck, if it wasn't fun, I'd have another hobby...

Talk to Decot Hywyd.... they'll tell you what you need.../ they've made my shooting glasses for several years !! They aren't cheap / but its a good product - and they're good to work with ....


OneOunce and I are just into your checkbook clear to our necks aren't we ....we're sorry ...well, a little bit anyway .... I have to have separate lenses made for my handgunning too ....so I can see my front sight clear on my handguns ....

getting old, isn't for lightweights ....

January 21, 2011, 08:16 PM
KM - My wife wears a progressive lens.....she winds up looking through the top where her distance section is...........it isn't the best, but she is making it work at the time

January 21, 2011, 09:01 PM
I don't know if it was buried in the thread or not - but that 870 is going to shoot flat - most trap guns shoot a little high or the shooter makes allowances like adding comb height, covering or passing the bird, etc. Check your pattern and see if you need to adjust your POA. Also - the choke will make a difference (IMHO). Lastly - as you have discovered, your gun fit needs fixing. If it is hurting you - you will be anticipating getting smacked instead of finding your target and correct lead.

January 21, 2011, 09:40 PM
I am doing so bad at this point, little things like blurry vision and shooting flat are meaningless. As for scores, and who is counting, I shot 7/25 twice the other day WITH NO choke.

It's a cyllinder bore and it isn't threaded for chokes and my guess if I don't shoot real quick the shot will spread so fast the chances of hitting the bird are rather slim, even if I had a clue what I was doing.

Right now I am just trying to get fundamentals down and then will worry about scores; the big fundamental being avoiding breaking my shoulder. I have a feeling much will fall in place with a few modifications to the stock; especially shortening the LOP. Along with that and some basic instruction I don't expect to become a Top Gun but I think I will do a bit better than 7. If I like this thing as much as I think I will, I may not want to sink much moolah into it but put something into a second hand sporter.

I have an idea what you mean by covering the bird and all as one guy explained that I am shooting so late that the clay is falling. As is, I keep trying to aim the dadburn thing rather than point and squeeze.

Anyway, removing the pad and checking the fit has made me feel much better about the gun. Thanks.

Dave McC
January 22, 2011, 09:33 AM
A couple things....

First, kudos to the regulars,especially Jim, Zip and 1 oz, who are taking the time to help out a newbie.

Well done!


Klawman, when I started seriously shooting trap back around 2000, I used a wonderful 870 TB trap gun. With the controls and "Chops" identical to my defensive and hunting tools, practice with it was practice with the others.

And if you're seeing all the rib, or top line when mounting, my guess is you're not getting a good cheek weld. Make sure you get consistent and firm contact.

I wish you lived in MD. Betcha I could fix this up in 30 minutes at the range......

January 22, 2011, 12:50 PM
Dave McC; You folk definitely deserve kudos and have all been great and I have no doubt you could spot what is going on right quick.

Anyway, absolutely no cheek slap and there is no rib. This is just an 18" cyllinder bore defense barrel with bead. I have sarted looking into a used ribbed barrel

I have sent an e-mail to a local "certified" NSCA instructor to see about lessons, but have yet to hear back, and am trying to find out about group beginner skeet classes.

Meanwhile I may run into a shooter that will spot things or one with a short LOP gun I can try. I think it may be too early for me to shoot, but I am going out to the range and just watch what others are doing. Just in case I may grab a box of the low recoil stuff oneounce has suggested.

I also noted that the worse bruising is from the more pointed lower part of the standard Remington butt pad (the "toe"?). I have read where one guy being dug with the point was told to round it off, but before I do that I want to see if the proper cure is something else.

Thanks Dave.

January 22, 2011, 02:34 PM
You are a little older than I am ....thank you ....I knew there was someone out there ... ...besides Zippy13 of course …

Yep, I'm even a pinch older than Dave McC, our esteemed moderator. My first round of Skeet was about 47 years ago. Having be brought up in a home without guns, my only training had been rifle and pistol in the military, I was on my own with a shotgun. I spent many years as a practitioner of trail and error shotgunning, even won a few shoots. Perfecting my errors, I had reached a ceiling and stagnated for many years. It wasn't until I was able until to buddy-up with an All-American shooter, who identified my errors, that I was able re-learn and started making progress, again.

At our age, you don't have twenty years of trail and error to waste, before you get serious. You have one advantage over the young new shooters: you know that you don't know, and want to do something about it. We've all seen brash young men who think high testosterone levels will instinctively make shooters out of them -- I was one of them back in the day.

My neighbor (older than me) got his first shotgun last year after some dogs savaged his livestock. I took him to my gun club for an introductory lesson. Two fields from us there is a manual trap set up for casual practice, and two young men were launching targets for each other. One was a novice and the other a first-timer. A typical case of the blind leading the blind -- ripe with enthusiasm and short on experience. As we watched them, I'd say too my neighbor, "Watch, he'll miss the this one." After the guy missed, my neighbor asked how I'd known. The guy's mount had been so awkward, there was no way he was going to get shot anywhere near the target. They were great examples of how not to mount a shotgun.

You are wise to be seeking some basic instruction, you don't want to be like the awkward young men shooting holes in the sky. An advantage to your age is the old boys at the gun clubs will take you seriously when you ask for help. As clayman mentioned, the NSSA/NSCA has an instructor certification program. In Orange County, Roger Blickham [(949) 498-8736], of San Clemente, is listed. I met Roger some years ago when he and his son competed at the SoCal clubs. In his younger days he was a Class-AA Skeet shooter and no-nonsense kind of guy.

Something that's often overlooked: In addition to schooling in the fundamentals, try to shoot with folks who are better shooters and watch and learn. Big Jim's shooting buddy is an older more experienced shooter. I'm sure, even with Jim's vast experience, he still picks-up a nugget every now and them. Unfortunately there's a dark side to shotgunning: we've all seen the show-off novice trying to impress the less experienced with well-meaning but worthless suggestions.

When it comes to seeing over the top of your glasses, you aren't alone. The Decots Big Jim mentioned are known as Hy-Wyd -- as the name implies the Hy is for high. I've been wearing the same Hy-Wyd frames for over twenty years. When my prescription changes I get new Decot lenses, and send the frames in for refurbishing (free, IIRC).

January 22, 2011, 04:54 PM
A big plus to Zippy's comments - trial and error doesn't begin to describe how I learned about guns either. One thing I have found as I shoot sporting - I tend to shoot to the level of the folks I am shooting with. One group has scores about like mine and another is a group of AA/M class shooters, including one in the NSCA Hall of Fame - when I shoot with those guys, I must be intuitively picking up some pointers, because my scores are always higher - they can also diagnose a problem I am having or give me hints on how to tackle a certain target......

January 22, 2011, 08:50 PM
Sounds good, guys. Yes, I learned by now the benefit of learning and listening. And today was a good day. I watched others shoot for a couple of hours and shot a round. (My shoulder felt pretty good but I was prepared to walk off the range if it bothered me.

NO PAIN! Of course I paid great care to mounting the butt inboard of where I was improperly resting it before, as well as a few other fundamentals AND I BOUGHT A BOX OF WINCHESTER LOW RECOIL 26 GRAM AA 980 FPS as suggested. The price at Turners was about the same as online if you include shipping.

I didn't hit worth beans but that wasn't my goal, which was to mount the same everytime in the proper part of the shoulder. I am still going to add weight (and look for a deal on a long barrel), but will try a standard 1 oz target load in a few days.

January 22, 2011, 08:54 PM
AWESOME! Glad to hear you had no pain

January 22, 2011, 09:33 PM
Zippy, I wasn't shooting formal skeet and wasn't even on a range but I was shooting clays thrown by my Dad 50 years ago off the road on somebody's land between Newport Beach and Corona. I think it was what is now Tustin.

I was looking at Blickham, but I believe San Clemente is in San Diego County south of Oceanside and I am up by what was the El Toro Marine Corp Air Station. There was an old guy at Prado today and I think he may have been an instructor. He sure could shoot. I may ask about him.

Meanwhile, I will e-mail Blickham. I am probably only going to want to take a class or two and he is probably worth an extra hour or two of driving. Besides, I have been thinking of setting up some kind of pro bono office hours for the guys at Pendleton and need to talk to someone.

[Doh! Me stupid. San Clemente isn't much past Dana Point. The little light went on whan I noticed that we have the same area code.)

January 22, 2011, 09:52 PM
Oneounce. I think it helped for me to try to show my son how to hold the gun, even though his body type is different and he is a couple of inches taller. I also began drilling with the flash lite in the barrel and pointing along the top of the wall into the corner. (My wife hasn't seen me do it.
She will probably freak and call the guys in whit jackets to tqake me away when she catches me doing that.)

Creek Henry
January 23, 2011, 10:06 AM
If you cannot afford personal coaching, try video taping yourself shooting. Just seeing yourself from a different POV can help.

Also, coaching is worth it if you are ready for it. I gave my brother some pointers an how to stand and pivot better and this shooting got a lot better... until he dropped back into his old habits. So, in his case, it is better that he didn't pay for those leasons learned because he didn't keep them up.

January 24, 2011, 05:04 PM
Klawman, here is a page with places in orange county


good luck with the shotgunning.

January 24, 2011, 05:44 PM
Thanks MarkJ. Actually that web page is our of date. The OC Sheriff range doesn't permit shotguns, which is no surprise since it is indoors. It is pretty safe that indoor ranges that alow shotguns are the exception and before going call, if thye say nothing about shotguns being allowed or not.

I believe Insight, which is actually in LA County, will permit some shotgun useage but with there ammunition.

Prado, is a few miles outside of OC, but it has a shotgun range permitting traps and skeet. That is the only one I have been to with my 870.

San Gabriel seems to have closed. I shot back there in 1960.

A shotgun club not much further from Orange County than Prado, which is not on the list, is Raahauges in Corona, LA County. As far as I know there is no place to shoot an SG in Orange County.

I think I will call the OC Sheriff and ask where the shoot there shot guns.


January 25, 2011, 04:50 PM
Times have changed that much out there? I used to go to a place with my cousin, he lives in Huntington beach. One of his buds is an older gent shoots trap and skeet. Guess it has been awhile since I was last out there. We used to shoot once in awhile, then go for a motorcycle ride on ortega or the angeles crest. Always wanted to run mullholland but I never got to it.

January 25, 2011, 05:05 PM
TKM - Here's a list of gun clubs in CA.


As with anything, call first to make sure they are still open

January 25, 2011, 09:12 PM
Yeah. The times they are achanging Bob Dillon. I don't think it is so much anti gun phiolosophy as it is the value of land. Whatever, the list oneounce provided looks up to date. Just returned from Prado and jammed up my shouleder some more, but after putting 75 rounds down and shooting a personal best for me. Shot a month old 870 Express exacly like mine, but without the 2 shot extension and with the 28" remchoke vent rib barrel. Weird, I thought it fit me better, but everything but the magazine extension, the barrel, and it did have the sport forearm, was identical. I have the LE forend and it may be that I have to reach further for it with my weak hand. Perhaps the forend made it easier for me to balance it and pull it properly into by shoulder. (The kid 26 year old that owned it had shot skeet for a while, and even though this was trap, shot pretty well with it and with my riot style). Like a lot of you guys have said, there is a lot to be learned from the guys at the range, including from trying their guns.

February 1, 2011, 08:01 PM
i gave up reloading shot shells .i had a lee load all and was doing good untill i priced walmart 12 ga shot shells and gave up the trouble of reloading now some may say its fun and it is ,I just got tired of pressing shells and chaseing folks out of my ammo room with lighted cig /cigars .accidents happen so walmart was my way out ,now im selling my rossie shot gun side hammers 12 gage coach gun and going back to target shooting , hay we all have to ahve fun

February 1, 2011, 10:21 PM
I here you merbenz. I have been thinking about loading my own shells, but as long as my pump eats the cheap stuff from WM I don't see where it. Right now I seem to be working through the issues I have been experiencing with kick back as a nooby (just tried out my new Remington Supercell Recoil Pad), but if they continue to plague me I may have to shoot the more expensive low recoil stuff and then it may prove worth loading my own. (Was watching some reloading video on Youtube and I hadn't realized how little there was to it.)

You said something about having to chase smokers out of the room when reloaiding. I got a laugh out of one of the reloading videos in which the guy's reloading bendh was next to his HVAC.

Dave McC
February 2, 2011, 10:04 AM
Currently, I can run off a box of reloads for about $4. That's not much savings over the value packs, but I get better ammo. The stuff I reload almost exclusively is a 7/8 oz, 1200 FPS load that kicks you know what on clays but is easy on my arthritic self.

My 20 gauge reload is similar, just a little cheaper.

Last Saturday, I had some new shooters to instruct. One was a mature female of less than 5' tall and 100 lbs. She was fearful of the kick, having shot only her husband's 12s. I loaned her the little SKB 20 and two boxes of my reloads and watched her as she busted her first clays. Big grin, no pain. I thought I'd have to wrestle her to get my gun back.

After I left, her husband bought her a 12 gauge White Onyx with 28" barrels. And some 7/8 oz ultra lite loads.

Next time I take them out, I'm bringing a little NEF single with a 12" LOP and some 3/4 oz training loads for her two youngest kids to try.

And that's the big advantage of reloading. Tailoring the shot cloud to the mission and shooter.....

February 2, 2011, 11:22 AM
It looks as though I can handle the 1-1/8 ounce loads, with proper mounting and a better recoil pad, but if I am going to continue with this, especially if I start shooting more than 2 or 3 boxes a week, I have to look down the road and am wondering if at 63 I should be proactive and going with the light loads before chronic shoulder trouble. Am I wrong or does WalMart sometimes carry 1 ounce and 1200 FPS 12 gauge bulk packs. (I almost bought a couple of individual boxes there yesterday, but while they had a one ounce load, they were game loads and I think the FPS was 1290 .)

Also, it looks to me as though the best price on 7/8 oz loads is about $7.40 a box on line plus shipping which brings it to about $10 a box. What does it go for in the stores and where is the best place to look for it?

February 2, 2011, 12:01 PM
Shells are part of the equation - and sure I'd recommend you reload - like Dave and others advised, you can reload a premium shell, at today's component prices, for about $4 a box ( I'm currently at $3.75 for 1 oz loads in 12ga. ......... $ 3.04 for a 3/4 oz 28ga load ....etc ).

Today's progressive loaders - are very quick / many of them turning out 20 boxes an hour easily - like the MEC 9000HN / or even the Grabber model will give you at least 10 boxes an hour.

The best prices I've seen on lower velocity shells in 1oz - is about $5.50 a box / and I understand you have ammo issues in CA - but the cheapest prices up here around Seattle is to buy them by the case at your local gun club. My club, sells components and case lot shells to members only, and 7/8 oz of 1 oz Rio brand are about $ 55 for a flat of 10 boxes....

I don't think buying shells online is competitive. You'd be better off to partner with someone / go together on a press if you have to / each do your own loads ( so you don't have any liability to your buddy ) ....and load your own - and save a few bucks / or shoot more with the same amount of money.
The pain issues you're having, in my opinion, are exaggerated by your ammo choice ....and me personally, at 6'5" and 290 lbs, I understand the "Buffalo" mentality - no challenge is too big / I'll try harder - or I'll just knock it down and wear out the opposition.... But shooting high velocity 1 1/8 oz loads in a 12 ga - will wear you down ! It doesn't make any difference how strong or macho you are ... Recoil is cumulative ...it wears you out ....and it hurts your mental game. The mental part of these games are at least as important as the physical part / and if your head isn't in the game ( ouch, my shoulder hurts when gun goes off ...) you will not shoot your best scores. Its a combination of skills and confidence ...that wins in these games / not the guy with the biggest gage / and the most shot in the pattern. Some of the best Skeet shooters in the world / shoot 20ga guns ( with 7/8 oz of shot ) in 12ga events !! They make their living shooting ....and if they thought they could get a 00.0001 % chance of an edge by shooting a 1oz load or a 1 1/8 oz load in a 12ga ...every one of them would make the change ....but they don't ??? They stay with the 20ga ...and win, and win and win ....

But most of the pain issues you're having, in my opinion, are "gun fit" related - and/or fundamental mount issues.

While you're healing - you really need to consider going to a semi-auto / where the action will absorb some of the recoil ....borrow, rent, buy ...whatever .... and it should probably be a gas gun. At the same time - work on fundamentals, Gun Fit, etc ....and let that shoulder heal.

Part of my issue - is the weight of the gun as I've gotten older / and a full shoulder and bicep rebuild on my shooting shoulder. So on days when I'm sore or not feeling as strong - I shoot a 20ga or a 28ga / and a lighter gun around 7 1/2 lbs ---and light loads. Some days I go to my semi-auto / mine happens to be a Benelli super sport ...but whatever you have in a semi auto ...

Somehow we need to convince you, while you can shoot these 1 1/8oz howitzer loads ....it really isn't in your best interst. We all understand, when you miss, its hard not to instinctively reach for a shell with more pellets in it ...( but trust me, it isn't better ... !! ) ....and its abusing your body !! 7/8 oz of shot will break any Skeet or 16 yard Trap target ...in a cloud of dust --- if you center it in the pattern !! The heavier loads / and the lack of fit on your gun ...and the abuse to your body --- are making it worse ..not better. You can stand there ....to use my analogy ....like a "Buffalo" ....( and I often do as well ) ....but when I close my eyes, I know I'm just being stupid ....:(

February 2, 2011, 12:30 PM
BigJim. I am already convinced of the need to get away from the heavier loads and primarily bought the 1-1/8 because that is what I had been primarily shooting and I wanted to test the effectiveness of the new recoil pad against the same stuff. It still kicked like a mule, but not a big a mule. Still, I know from work about the cumulative effects of repetitive trauma which is why I still am interested in shooting less than what I feel I can handle. Meanwhile, I am at least beginning to make more hits than misses with my short barrel (started to get the hang of pointing instead of aiming.) Ideally, I want to get a used long barrel for the 870 and then if I continue to like this game the 870 will pretty much be relegated to HD and I will pick up a semi so as to further reduce repetitive trauma. Also, I may be able to get my wife and daughter to come out once in a while and shoot the semi, while I use the 870. Of course if the boss starts to like this, reloading will easily pay for itself and much of the cost of a second weapon.

February 2, 2011, 12:57 PM
You're getting it .... good job ...:D

February 2, 2011, 01:26 PM
Also, it looks to me as though the best price on 7/8 oz loads is about $7.40 a box on line plus shipping which brings it to about $10 a box. What does it go for in the stores and where is the best place to look for it

Check out Graf & Sons, Gamaliel, Natchez, Kemen, your local gun club, etc.

I get Kemen for $55.00/flat OTD, while some folks I know like Fiocchi and pay less than your $7.40 per box when they buy in bulk

This would be a good one to look into or try:

Kemen Light 24 12 2 ¾ 7/8 2 ½ 1200 7.5, 8

That's a 12 gauge 7/8oz load @ 1200fps