View Full Version : Can a pump guy be as good as a semiauto guy?

January 26, 2011, 09:30 AM
I just bought an 870. I have shot Benellis for the last 20 years.

I have taken my 870 out for skeet, sporting clays, and duck hunting. I have found that I am not near as good at hitting pairs in the gun games or multiple birds hunting. The margin in speed between the two guns is substantial.

Is there any hope with practice? Can a pump guy compete or am I wasting my time? I am debating on going back to the Benelli for hunting and games and converting my 870 to a home defense gun.

January 26, 2011, 09:38 AM
I think, besides the speed issue, the pump shooter is also doing far more business between the 2 shots that being on target for the second clay is not quite as possible for the average guy.


January 26, 2011, 10:12 AM
I feel that you cant be as good with a pump on the clay field. You can be great at hunting but for quick doubles you fall off to much and cant recover for a good shot. I use all semi guns for targets and hunting but friends that go with me are just as good at hitting doves with their pumps but struggle more on the clay range

January 26, 2011, 10:18 AM
Semi or double barrel absolutely has an advantage. You spend less time operating the shotgun and have more time to acquire, track, and hit your target.

January 26, 2011, 10:45 AM
There is a huge difference between the two. Just look at the records Patrick Flanigan has set - about twice as many hits with the semi-auto.

January 26, 2011, 11:06 AM
Your observations confirm what some of us have been saying all-along: The pump gun is at a definite disadvantage in shotgun sports where a quick second shot is required.

It's not just the time required to shuck the cob that comes into play. Handling characteristics, recoil and reliability must be considered, too. Go to a gun club throwing registered targets and you'll see pump guns used only for trap. The other sports are ruled by the O/Us with a minority of auto-loaders.

January 26, 2011, 11:17 AM
What do you guys think comparing the pump to the semiauto for hunting?

January 26, 2011, 11:35 AM
I think if you practice with your pump action there is no advantage in most hunting circumstances or self-defense situations for that matter.

January 26, 2011, 11:46 AM
Having shot both, I'm a lot faster and more reliable with the semi auto.

January 26, 2011, 12:02 PM
Llike others said - there are better long term target guns than most pumps - for clay target games. But its not just the action - its weight, follow-thru, etc ....

One technique to effectively shooting a pump gun - in the field or at clays ...
- is once you mount the gun - take your shot and follow thru / and then operate the action without pulling the gun from your shoulder or removing your face from the comb. Now, as you execute the shot on the first bird - shift your eyes to find the 2nd bird - then, and only then, move the gun - and as you move the gun, shuck the action ...feel the lead, and kill the 2nd target and follow thru .......

Its not easy to do / but it is a learned technique - and it will become smoother with practice / and its important the gun fit you. Most adult males have arms long enough to make it work.

Too often shooters with pump guns feel rushed - and "Slap" at the first target and yank the gun to a stop instead of having a good follow-thru ...and then they shuck the gun - and "swat" at the 2nd target ......with mixed results. And the more they miss - they faster they push the gun around / usually by arm swinging vs lower body rotation ....and some days they're on / and score pretty well ...and somedays they can't hit the broad side of a barn door ...

The trick is to smooth all this out / integrate it all into the execution of the shot. The guys that are good at it ...can shoot anything ...

Do you have to go back to a semi-auto - no. Is it a better option for a lot of shooters - yes ....because it doesn't require as much technique and practice.

January 26, 2011, 12:21 PM
I don't shoot my old pump guns as much as I used to .....and I don't practice with them at all anymore ...but since I grooved that move, to shuck the action leaving the gun at my shoulder ....its still there in the back on my feeble mind somewhere....

so it is fun, to just take the pump guns out to the Skeet field once in a while...
It does cost me a couple of birds / but in reality, I have more time than you would think on many stations where they throw pairs ( 1,2 - 6, 7 ). I find no problem on stations 1 and 7 ....but stations 2 and 6 give me some problems.

In theory - if only stations 2 and 6 give me problems with the pump ---anything less than a 23 is not a good round. I should still always hit the first bird in the pair - and only be late on the 2nd one ...

Stations 1 and 7 - you have so much time on the 2nd bird, it just shouldn't be a big deal....

so it depends - is 23 on a skeet field, with a pump, ok in your mind or not.../depends on what your goals are in Skeet. I'm not suggesting that I would ever give up my O/U's on the Skeet field ....swing characteristics, Fit, recoil, reliability, etc ...

January 26, 2011, 01:02 PM
Big Jim, I think you pointed out my mistake in technique.

Currently, I shoot the first clay and shuck the gun as I am following though. THEN, I aquire the second bird and shoot.

Just to be sure, I think you are saying to shoot the first bird and follow through. Then, as I am moving the gun to acquire the second clay, shuck the gun.

Does that sound right? My method always makes me feel rushed on the second shot and is probably messing up my follow though.

January 26, 2011, 01:21 PM
Yes, you want to shuck the action as you move the gun to the 2nd target...

Its a small point ....but pulling the trigger is the start of the shot, not the end of the shot ...follow thru is critical / and follow thru is the end of the shot. But the other thing - is you know there are 2 targets in the air .....but as you watch the pieces from the first bird disintegrate on the first shot follow-thru .....you want to shift your eyes to find the 2nd bird / not move the gun, until your eyes acquire the 2nd bird.

Play a game with yourself....sitting at your desk or whatever...

pretend you are executing a shot - say left to right ( just raise your trigger hand - and move accross the room - as you get to the crease in the wall / to the next wall - pull the trigger (on your hand ) and keep some follow thru on your arm..... Now, shift your eyes - to the left, where you would expect that 2nd target to be .... and then move your gun ....you'll find its easy to insert the gun in front of the target and track and kill it.... But try it the wrong way too..... move the gun (or your arm) without shifting your eyes first .... and most of us find, we overshoot the target, and kind of oscillate back and forth to establish our lead....vs being able to do it smoothly ....

the key, is shifting your eyes first, before you move the gun ....or you're all over the place. And once you have your eyes firmly fixed on the leading edge of that target ( not the butt ) ..always the leading edge ...it makes executing that shuck / and the 2nd shot a lot smoother and easier ...and you don't feel as rushed.

That's why I use the term "swat" at a target ...when someone doesn't shift their eyes first ...its just a prayer ...not a good move to the target. My Skeet buddy, says " count the rings on the target" ....and I always laugh, like any normal human being can really see rings on a target ( I can't ) ....but his point is "hard focus" ... and when I miss ...his favorit thing is .... "what did you see last " as you executed the shot ..... ( the barrel, nothing, don't know ....) none of which is good......

eye on the target, always the beak, never the butt... then shift your gun ...and I think you'll be fine... sounds easy doesn't it .... ??? / but it takes some practice ....:D

If you shift your eyes properly / then move and shuck the action / it'll all come together for you. If the action on your pump isn't buttery smooth / do what you can to smooth it up. My old pump guns ( both Browning BPS hunter models in 12ga and 20ga ) have thousands of shells thru them ....so they're very smooth. Some of the newer guns ..not so much ...so smoothing up the action will help a little.

You can practice this at home with snap caps too .../maybe with a mini-mag flashlight in the barrel ..../ lots of ways to get better with a pump.

January 26, 2011, 01:30 PM

I really appreciate the advice.

January 26, 2011, 01:49 PM
You're welcome ....and good shooting ...!!

January 26, 2011, 07:04 PM
How many times have you honestly shot a double in skeet with both shots being so close together that you would have been unable to rack a second round? If you have then you've lagged behind in acquiring that first bird and probably didn't have good shot setup on the second. Pumps are faster than they're given credit for.

There is plenty of time in skeet doubles to use a pump action. The semi auto guy may have less to do, but racking a new round in does not require loss of cheek weld or any other crazy shenanigans.

Some guys (like me) ride the slide back on recoil at the same time we follow-through the shot. Then as we find the second bird, push the slide forward. The gun is always been ready for the second shot before I was.

I did however, change mt ways because shifting my hand was messing with my follow-through and focused on keeping the bolt in battery until I confirmed the first hit, then shuck as I was transitioning targets and I experienced a loss of gun readiness speed, but broke the targets just as quickly.

The main drawback of a pump in skeet is that it requires movement and shifting beyond your gun swing, not the rate of fire.

January 26, 2011, 08:09 PM
I have seen some exibition shooters with a pump shoot faster than my semi will function.

January 26, 2011, 08:51 PM
How many times have you honestly shot a double in skeet with both shots being so close together that you would have been unable to rack a second round?

Honestly, just about every timeā€¦
My method of shooting Skeet doubles involves hitting both of the targets in the same relative spot. It's all to do with practicing my foot positions, hold points, break points and adjusting for the wind and my reaction time. I shoot the first target well enough before the center stake so I can follow through, reverse the gun, see the lead on the second target and shoot. I'll probably have shot the pair before the typical newby has finished measuring his lead on the first target as it passes the center stake. It may sound complicated; but, in reality, it minimizes my gun motion and chances for error and fatigue. This skill wasn't developed for shooting just the four pairs one encounters in a round of standard Skeet but to be competitive in Skeet Doubles where double targets are shot at every station. Also, ties in standard Skeet events are often broken using sudden-death doubles shoot-offs.

I have seen some exhibition shooters with a pump shoot faster than my semi will function.
Have you ever seen them in on winner's stand at a national tournament with their pump gun? I haven't.

January 26, 2011, 08:57 PM
From my posts on the other site:

I have seen, and shoot with a few, that can work their pump as fast for a second shot, but their success ratio on clays isn't as high - then again, one gent in particular really likes to try and show off his speed, even if he misses..............as long as he is safe and having fun, it doesn't matter.

If you are going to get into serious competition, then it DOES matter - the only time you'll see pumps at a serious sporting clays competition is when they have a special round for pumps only. For any game requiring two shots, there are better alternatives

The pump, IMO, is a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none gun. It can do a lot of things, to be sure, but there are other versions that do particular jobs better

Working the action is one thing - with a lot of practice it can easily be done. However, staying the target path is another - the movement to work the slide will, for most folks, pull the gun off the target line - so while working the slide, they are also trying to reacquire the target - in games with two targets, especially fast moving ones like in Int'l skeet, sporting etc., that is a hindrance - if you're just shooting for grins and giggles - go have fun and run what ya brung..................but you don't see pumps on the podium of the Olympics............

January 26, 2011, 09:43 PM
Yes, but for them to shoot equally well the pump guy has to be better.

Okay, so some guys like to hammer-pair the birds (I mean, if it's really firing faster than is possible with a pump, than it's a hammer-pair), that does not mean that the game calls for it. A break is a break within the limiting stakes, no matter if you use every available millisecond.

You won't see them on the winner's stand because yes, a pump gun is a drawback. However, it is not such a hindrance that one could not be a good shooter using one.

Sure, you won't see a pump in serious competitive skeet, that doesn't make it a poor clay gun. Not the BEST, but often times people focus more on having the best equipment before they have the ability to fully use its advantages.

January 26, 2011, 10:27 PM

As a kid, my dad took me to an exhibiton by Herb Parsons, the famous exhibition shooter for Winchester in the 1950's, at Mather's Gun Club in Springfield, Illinois. He amazed everyone by hitting 7 hand-thrown clays before they hit the ground with his Winchester Model 12. A guy in the audience asked him why he didn't use a semi-auto. Herb's response was, "Because I'd have to wait for the semi-auto to cycle."

January 26, 2011, 10:28 PM
You won't see them on the winner's stand because yes, a pump gun is a drawback. However, it is not such a hindrance that one could not be a good shooter using one.

Without a doubt. There was never any question that there are many great shooters who learned on pump guns; but, that wasn't the initial question. The OP wanted to know if, with practice, he could compete with the O/Us and auto-loaders. The simple answer is NO. If he'd asked if he could learn a great deal about shotgunning, considering the limitations of a pump gun, the answer would be a resounding YES.

Many of us old pharts got our starts with pump guns -- or even worse, with single shots and bolt actions. I like oneounceload's description of the pump as a jack-of-all trades shotgun. Then there comes a time when you realize that you've reached your potential with the pump gun, and you step up to the next level. For me it was a pump, then auto, then an intermediate level O/U then custom comp O/Us. I didn't get my first high end comp gun until I'd been shooting for over 25-years. Hopefully, if 70expreme, the OP, gets the bug it won't take him quite so long. In my case, I didn't get into serious shooting until after the kid's college was paid for. Quite honestly, quality guns and a lot of shooting are beyond the budget of most folks with a house full of young mouths to feed and clothe.

January 26, 2011, 11:04 PM
A pump shooter, can be as good as a shooter of any other type of shotgun.
Shotguns are just a pipe, some more expensive than others, but, still just a pipe. Pump shotguns can slow one's tempo,so one can get better target aquisition.

January 27, 2011, 01:09 AM
Hmmm, well I took the original post's use of the word "compete" not quite so literally as to mean "shoot competitively in clay target sports" and instead to mean "competently alongside various recreational shooters" due to his inclusion of hunting as a purpose for the gun.

As far as actual competition, likely not. But hey, it isn't to say that we'll never see a champion with a pump! The thing I like about shotguns is that a 5,000 dollar Kreighoff has no ballistic advantage over any other shotgun using the same choke. There's no replacement for practice in shotgun shooting.

January 27, 2011, 08:28 AM
He can be as fast, maybe even faster. He can't be as good.

Dave McC
January 27, 2011, 09:21 AM
Rudy Etchen owned lots of shotguns, up to bespoke Purdeys. He shot 870s for the most part and set a few records with them. That includes some 100 straights in trap doubles.

I love my 870s. The combination of reliability, flexibility and ergos is hard to beat. Still, on the clays range I score a little better with my O/Us. In the field on moving food, it's a wash.

January 27, 2011, 10:48 PM
The beretta 391 has been used to win more shootoff's, by pro shooters than any other gun. Seeing as most shootoffs are on a make-a-break field, why would they restrict themselves to only one choke???!!??

the rifleer
January 28, 2011, 12:01 AM
Pump guys can be BETTER than semi auto guys. I can shoot 4 hand thrown clays with a pump action mossberg 500 20 gauge. A lot of guys can't do that with a semi-auto 12 gauge.

Like anything, its all about practice. There's a guy at my local club that has a very nice O/U that costs $9,000. I paid $220 for my mossberg and I shoot just as well as he does. Its all about practice.

January 28, 2011, 12:41 AM
Patrick Flanigan set new world record of 7 hand thrown clay targets on
10-22-10 with Mossberg 500 but his current world record with a semi-auto from his old sponser using Winchester SX3 is 11 hand thrown clay targets which shows the huge advantage of a semi-auto. Also, set record of 12 shots in 1.42 seconds with same SX3. I will be interested to see if he can run the 930 at same rate as SX3 I doubt it but it would be nice to see a $600.00 gun perform as well as or better than the $1,200.00 gun.

.300 Weatherby Mag
January 28, 2011, 01:08 AM
I will not disagree that an o/u is a better option for the different clay disciplines... But I find myself taking pumps into the field as they are more of a challenge and they make me think... There is nothing better than dropping a bird each time you pull the trigger and cycle that action... The first time I did it with an 870 was 3 shots and 3 down birds... I get a lot of satisfaction out of doing a double with o/u or sxs but its nothing like doing a triple with a pump... I've hunted with a semi and honestly, its too easy... My 1100 with skeet choke might was well be an AAA gun with thermal tracking... Don't think for a second I don't like beating the pants off someone in the field while shooting my .410 870 while they are shooting a 12 gauge autoloader...

January 28, 2011, 07:06 AM

Sounds like Flanigan MATCHED the record of 7 hand-thrown clays with a pump since Herb Parsons did it 60 years ago with his Model 12. However, perhaps it was the first time anyone had done it with a Mossberg 500.

January 28, 2011, 09:25 AM
I did not know that. It is listed as a "record" for hand thrown clay targets on Flanigan's web site. Parsons must have been great to watch as I know Flanigan is.

January 28, 2011, 10:28 AM
chas08 posted this Youtube video of Herb Parsons breaking 7 hand thrown targets with his model 12 on The High Road, Shotguns forum. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nu9-D9KqR4k. Watching the YouTube video, it appears that Herb broke the 7 clays in a little over 2 seconds.

I think it is from the original 25 minute video entitled, The Showman Shooter that was filmed in 1954 or 1955 and may still be is available on the web site Showman Shooter. http://showmanshooter.com/