View Full Version : I want to break clay targets

April 5, 2011, 10:58 AM
I need a new pastime so I'm going to learn how to break clay targets. I'm signed up for a beginner class in about a month. At one time I was fairly competent with firearms. Military background long ago. Very little shooting for last decade but within last 6 months I've taken it up again and now shoot regularly at local indoor pistol range. Trap, Skeet and 5 Stand have always sounded interesting, finally decided to give it a go.

I have a gun. Mossberg 500A 12GA. Black Synthetic. Blued. It came with both a 20in barrel and a 28in ribbed barrel with 2 beads and threaded for screw in chokes. I have a full set of chokes. It has the ribbed, tactical style forearm though. The gun has the long magazine tube, I believe it holds 8 rounds although the dowel that plugs it reduces capacity to 3.

I know it is physically possible to break clay with this gun, rudimentary though it is. My question is, after I've taken the intro class and decided if I like the sport will I find that this gun limits me in some way? What are considerations when deciding whether to stick with pump or go autoloader? Will I hurt my development or fun if I start with pump and then change to auto?

Anything helps.

April 5, 2011, 11:09 AM
Nothing wrong with a pump.
Some of the best exhibition shotgunners use them.
Folks win with them all the time.
Like the old saying, learn to run what ya' got.
If you really get hooked on the clay games, you will probably wind up with lots of shotguns.
Trap is best with long barrels and straight stocks, skeet is done with something different. and the sporting clay game guys use other stuff.
It's all more the shooter than the gun, anyway.
And pumps don't care what they shoot, while autoloaders can get picky.
That's my take, anyhow.

April 5, 2011, 11:21 AM
its all about what feels good to you, try as many as you can get your hands on. The gun is only as good as the shooter... my father at 65 will still school me 9 out of 10 times with his old 870 pump when we go to the range no matter which of my autos is in my hands... no one really misses anymore, but dang that old man is fast!

April 5, 2011, 11:25 AM
The pump will do fine for you to get into the sport.

The manual action is a shade slower for doubles and a shorter defensive style barrel won't swing quite as well, but I'd start with what you have. Recoil can put a bit of a flinch into you, so I'd seek out some lighter loads.

Once you have some experience, you'll begin to learn what the limitations are and where those limitations are. At that point you can start looking at another gun, be it a O/U or autoloader, depending on the games you are leaning towards (a gun that's great for skeet may have a couple drawbacks for trap or sporting clays/5 stand).

April 5, 2011, 11:36 AM
For starting out, using the longer barrel, your pump will do just fine, especially for trap singles where you are only firing one round per target one at a time. After experiencing all three games (and sporting clays is 5-stand on a larger scale), start renting/borrowing as many guns at your club as you can. You might determine that a semi is your best bet, or it might be an O/U.

Start slow, don't get discouraged if your initial scores aren't great, maintain positive thoughts and attitudes, and most importantly - have some fun

This is a great addiction.........:D

April 5, 2011, 02:54 PM
These guys have tons of experience and know what they say. You don't need anything more than your Mossberg unless you persue things down the road.

I only got a Remington 870 a couple of months ago and while it has its limitations I am in no rush to get something else; one reason being it will be a while before you know what is right for you.

As for having the police style short fore stock, no big deal. I had one until recently and swapped it out for the longer sport style and only did that because my arms are just slightly on the short side and I had to reach too much for the police fore stock.

If you are wondering why folks mentioned recoil, serious clay shooters tend to shoot a lot of rounds. I got beat up buy my 870, but that may have been because I didn't have any shotgun exprience. A $20 pad and learning how to hold it properly solved the problem. Shooting lighter loads will also help until your body gets accustomed to the recoil.

Taking lessons is a good thing. As I have been learning, while many of the guns look the same, they really are set up different for different games. So unless you have plenty of money and can buy several guns, you have to find out which game you wish to persue before buying a gun designes for it.

April 5, 2011, 03:13 PM
Thanks for all the input all. I'll proceed with the basic pump and see where it goes. I can't wait!

As for what to put in the gun, the range where I'll be training/shooting allows "target rounds only" (their words). I have 3 boxes of Winlite AA #8 Light Target loads which were highly recommended for the class I'll be taking. I'm told that the general range of shot size for clay shooting is 7 1/2 -9 with as little charge as will get the job done. The Winlites are listed at 980fps. I'm told this is as light as it gets.

Was I properly instructed? Suggested alternatives?

April 5, 2011, 03:30 PM
if you can break the clays with it then u need to use it. im sure lots of guys at the clubs will let you try there guns if you ask polietly then you can find what gun you like most. im sure the gun you have now will work just fine

April 5, 2011, 03:34 PM
If your stone cold new to shotguns, the WinLites are real nice. A lot of guys just buy the value pack Federal and Winchesters at WalMart.

#9 shot is great for skeet, #8 is a good all purpose size and 7 1\2 is nice for the longer shots in sporting clays or shooting handicap trap.

April 5, 2011, 03:48 PM
I picked up the Winlites for 4.50/box at a closeout sale in a sporting goods store that is discontinuing sale of guns and ammo. I guess they normally go for about 9 bucks a box. I'll be going with whatever WalMart is selling for target loads when these run out.

I generally buy all target ammo at WalMart (9mm and 22LR). They always have some name brand American stuff and you can't beat those prices. $10.50 for a box of Federal 9mm FMJ is pretty good (I saw the Federal 12GA #8 target loads there for $21 for a 100 shell box). Unless you'll just shoot anything.

April 5, 2011, 04:11 PM
Those Federal Value Packs are great stuff for those who don't mind a full power target load (1 1/8 oz. of shot moving at about 1100-1200fps has a bit of kick in pump and break actions), and the price is right. If you go autoloader, definitely remember those. The Winchester value packs don't have that great a reputation, but the Remington ones seem to be decent (like the Federals).

For now, those light Winchester shells will work great- IMO, they're not as consistent as my handloads (I was shooting some of them this past Thursday, and they just seemed to vary a bit), which surprised me (supposedly, the Win AA ammo is really high quality, so maybe it was a weird batch). They'll not beat you up nor impart a flinch, and $4.50/box is a sweet price.

April 5, 2011, 07:13 PM
Those winlites at $4.50 a box are a steal. Around here, Orange County, CA, they go for more llik3 $9 or $10 a box (not sure but one robber wanted $10.99). That is what I bought to introduce my kid, and should have bought to introduce myslef, to the 12 gauge.

April 5, 2011, 07:31 PM
If you don't reload, those empty hulls are worth .08 - .010 each or about $2.50 a box..............so save them and sell them

I prefer 7/8or 1 oz at about 1200 -1250 fps.......over time you will try many types and determine what works for you

April 5, 2011, 08:13 PM
Your shotgun will do just fine until you want another. (It won't be long if you really get into the game.) Don't rush out and buy another gun just to "fit in" with the crowd. After you get some time on the range you will decide if you want an O/U, auto, or higher end pump.

April 5, 2011, 08:17 PM
Adding a mid-rib sight bead is an easy way to make your pump behave more like a target shotgun. It helps to maintain consistency when mounting the gun.

Don't concern yourself with upgrading your gun until it becomes the limiting factor in your development. Other than being a hindrance when shooting doubles, you can learn the basics with a pump. Your eventual main shooting sport will have a significant influence on your future gun selection(s). Like many, you may go from a pump to an O/U, and not consider an auto-loader.

April 5, 2011, 08:50 PM
Hi Zippy. I was wondering if you had been ill as I hadn't seen you posting. Anyway, I think he means that his 28" barrel has a mid rib bead, when he says it has two beads. I know the combination sets I have seen for sale came with a mid rib bead on the field barrel. His is nicer than the ones I saw at the local Big 5 in that theirs have a fixed modified 28" barrel and his uses choke tubes.

April 6, 2011, 09:32 AM
Klawman is correct. The 28in barrel is threaded for chokes and has the two bead setup with a mid rib bead. The middle bead is even white while the front is brass which I hear can help you naturally line them up. Its intended to be a functional hunting setup. I have all the standard chokes. It came with IC but I ordered the rest of the set from Mossberg just to have them.

The gun was a package at the local gunstore intended to cover all the shotgun bases in a basic way. You can take it to the trap/skeet range or the field with the long barrel or swap in the 20in smooth barrel and keep it by the bed for greeting intruders. I have no idea what it cost because it was a gift several years ago. My wife thought I'd like a shotgun. She was much nicer back then.

April 6, 2011, 10:28 AM
Thanks for the heads-up, K-Law, it's nice to know that M'berg is installing mid-rib beads.

April 8, 2011, 12:49 PM
Suggestion: find a pattern board and see where your Mossy shoots. Most field type guns shoot flat (50/50 pattern) which is fine for game but not ideal for trap as you have to cover the "bird" with the barrel. Don't get to involved in the aftermarket fiber optic front sights. They can make your gun shoot low, they did mine. You shouldn't be aiming when shooting clay games anyway, you should be focusing on the target with the front bead out of focus (depending on your eyesight..The 28" Mossy will do you right if you do your part.

April 8, 2011, 03:11 PM
>>At one time I was fairly competent with firearms. Military background long ago<<

Just remember not to try and apply the same rules of rifle shooting to that of shotgun. With the latter, you're pointing rather than aiming. You'll have to get used to shooting with both eyes open as well. That's one of the hardest things for a seasoned rifle shooter to get used to. ;)

April 8, 2011, 03:21 PM
I shoot trap with a 1940's vintage Remington Model 11 and routinely embarrass the guys out there with their new $1000 dollar bird guns. ;) It's a lot more shooter and a lot less gun than what the elitists at the range will tell you.

I think my gun has far more character than theirs anyway. :D

April 8, 2011, 03:43 PM
their new $1000 dollar bird guns.

Why would you shoot a bird gun for trap? Besides, $1,000 isn't much for a good bird gun. Some of those decent SxS tend to START about $3500.........:D

April 8, 2011, 05:00 PM
Why would you shoot a bird gun for trap? Besides, $1,000 isn't much for a good bird gun. Some of those decent SxS tend to START about $3500.........

Well, bird guns because the range I shoot at is on a pheasant farm, and the shooters there are usually getting ready to go bird hunting.... and I meant to put a "$1000+" instead of just $1000, but still, a grand is a lot more than my Model 11 is worth. ;)

April 11, 2011, 02:40 PM
I expect that I'll wind up using the same gun for shooting trap and other clay sports as well as the field. I can see myself getting an O/U or more probably an auto if I decide to frequent the club at least once or twice a month or more.

I do intend to try my hand at shooting some birds as early as this fall, after I've learned to hit a flying target most of the time.

I can't see myself spending beaucoup on a special purpose trap gun.

That being said, I'm sure I'll be tempted. I was at Discount Gun Sales in Tukwila, WA late last week. I saw what looked like an extremely well kept Remington 1100 with a barrel stamped "skeet". It's a consignment gun. They have it up there for just under 500 bucks. This seems very reasonable to me. Especially since you could probably get it for a bit less. So my resolve has passed the first test.

April 11, 2011, 03:37 PM
You are talking about shooting trap but are looking at a used 1100 with a barrel stamped skeet? Is that a fixed choke barrel? If so, it isn't going to be much good for trap. Can it be machined for interchangeable chokes? I don't know.

April 11, 2011, 03:57 PM
It probably could be machined to accept chokes, but is it worth it? Plus, being a skeet gun I suspect it's a short barrel jobbie.

April 11, 2011, 04:03 PM
Skeet constriction is .005. Many find that a Modified constriction, .020, to work better for 16 yard trap targets, with an Improved Modified or Full for Handicap targets.

Can you break 16 yard targets with a Skeet choke? Sure you can. Can you do it consistently over and over? Most likely not.

A second barrel can be had, or your skeet barrel can be threaded for chokes. Thread job will run any where from $50 - $150 or so, and then there are the chokes themselves, which can run any where from $35 to $135, depending on the brand.

April 11, 2011, 04:06 PM
I was unclear in my most recent post. The club I will go to offers trap, skeet and 5 stand. I know that trap and skeet are not the same thing. I'm not 100% sure yet how they differ, but I know they do. I plan to try them all, with my basic Mossberg.

I was mentioning the 1100 as a gun I saw that I may have use for one day, should I like skeet, although I hear many skeet shooters don't use a skeet choke. It's all over my head for now.

I plan to try all 3 disciplines offered at my local club and go from there. I've been advised to screw an IC choke into my mossberg to start with and then listen to what the instructor tells me about changing.

The 1100 I saw was a fixed barrel no threads. I doubt it is modifiable by any normal means. Very nice highly polished wood stock and super clean. Used, but not a nick or ding on it. Basically looks just short of new. It was just a really nice looking gun that I thought looked inexpensive given the prices I'd been seeing for that model. It caught my eye.

April 11, 2011, 04:22 PM
I hear many skeet shooters don't use a skeet choke. It's all over my head for now. Skeet may be shot without a Skeet choke, but I'm unaware of any Skeet shooters who don't use Skeet chokes. My 1100 has two barrels one for Skeet the other for trap.
Life Member National Skeet Shooting Assn.

May 4, 2011, 05:10 PM

I just had to reschedule the clay busting class for June 4th. My son has a makeup baseball game on Saturday. I'd just miss the game, but I'm the coach.


May 4, 2011, 06:04 PM

Sorry about your scheduling conflict. While waiting to tease the targets with your Mossberg, here are links to two .pdf downloadable brochures by Remington on Trap (http://www.remington.com/~/media/Files/Brochures/trap_fundamentals_2004.ashx) and Skeet (http://www.remington.com/~/media/Files/Booklets/skeet_fundamentals_2004.ashx) shooting fundamental. They may answer many of your questions.

May 5, 2011, 02:51 AM
Lawnboy, The downloadable pamphlets are really helpful. I am a beginner and had only glanced at them before, when Zipp13 pointed them out. This time I printed out the one on Trap and it clarifies a lot of things that people have been trying to get across to me.

Dave McC
May 5, 2011, 04:58 PM
1100s can last a very long time if some parts are replaced regularly, like the O ring and action spring. A good choice for an all around clays gun.

However, skeet chokes do best at skeet and other close range opps. Modified is a better choice for all around use, using cheap shells with small shot for close stuff and premium handicap trap loads with larger shot for WOD.

On an 1100, I'd want something like a 30" vent rib barrel that was choke tube capable as a dedicated clays gun. Chokes on hand would be something like Cylinder for skeet, LM for Sporting Clays, and Mod or IM for trap.

Bucks Gun Shop
May 5, 2011, 11:31 PM

That 1100 (if it is a 12 gauge) that you mentioned in the other post will work very well for a trap gun... That is what I started with more than 30 years ago and would still be shooting if I didn't get the I'wantas for a new special purpose trap gun... The single biggest advantage to an auto loader for trap is that the action absorbes some of the recoil... Not a big deal when shooting a couple shots a day at passing birds... A very big deal when breaking 100 clays in an hour and half...

A couple things you might want to do is install a Graco adjustable pad so you can fit the gun to you... They make one that allows for length of pull, cant, and drop... You might also look into getting a mid-bead for your barrel... Will help with mounting the gun...

Other than that -- go have fun!!!

May 6, 2011, 01:48 AM
Buck. His Mossberg's 28" barrel has a mid bead, but I see that you are talking about if he were to set an 1100 up for skeet.

May 6, 2011, 08:51 AM
For the last year, I have been shooting Trap singles once a week at the local Club. I have been using a Mossberg pump gun. As I have improved, I just last week picked up a BT-99.
There is nothing wrong with the Mossberg. I just wanted a dedicated Trap gun.
It had a VR 30" FC barrel. I suggest that that longer barrel may be a worthwhile addition to your Mossberg. You can buy one at Numrich Arms for $80.
Here's the link, if you are interested.


May 6, 2011, 10:05 AM
Pete, my friend, congratulations on the acquisition of the BT-99. I hope it works well for you.


May 6, 2011, 05:12 PM
Thank you, Zippy my friend. Getting used to it now. It shoots differently than the Mossberg. I'll break 10 or 15 in a row and then miss three or four. Go figure.

May 6, 2011, 06:06 PM
For what its worth guys ....I find a GraCoil ( or whatever system you like ) an asset on a Trap gun ...but not on games like Skeet or Sporting Clays ..where you tend to get some faster targets with more movement left or right ...


This GraCoil is on one of my Browning XT's ....

When I had a (Soft Touch system - similar to the GraCoil system on my Skeet gun) ...I felt like I was hesitating on the 2nd shot / or at least aware of its cycling time ...so I restocked the gun and got rid of the Soft Touch system.

I know Zippy likes his air cushion stock on his primary Skeet gun ..but I'm not sure its for everyone on a Skeet or Sporting Clays gun ... Before you invest in one on a Skeet or any general purpose or sporting clays gun ...I'd recommend you see if you can shoot one first...( that decision to get rid of it cost me almost $ 3,000 ) ...for the system and then restocking the gun ...

May 6, 2011, 06:18 PM

The BT-99's and the older BT-100's are beautiful guns. I've had a BT-100 for 12 or 15 yrs I guess ....picked it up at an Estate Sale from a collector in Indiana - but I've never been able to get used to it ...with the swing charactgeristics being so different - so I went back to my Citori XT's with 32" barrels for Trap...



I hope you have better luck with yours ..../ mine is a 30" ...and I've tried everything including putting barrel weights on it ...but like you / I run a few targets ..then I miss 2 or 3 ...and that little voice starts whispering in my ear ...( the XT is in the safe...) ....

May 6, 2011, 06:53 PM
An auto will get ya confident, a double will get ya comfortable, and a pump will get ya noticed, AHHHHH!

May 7, 2011, 05:02 AM
An auto will get ya confident, a double will get ya comfortable, and a pump will get ya noticed

Great line.

BigJim: Thanks for the feedback. The 99 that I have has a 34" barrel. The whole thing is very different than the 30" Mossberg pump gun.

May 7, 2011, 10:22 PM
If you have to wait for your class, you might read up on shotgunning in the meantime. I'm pretty sure the book that I came across in the library was "Shotgunning: The Art and the Science" by Brister.

I read it before I ever had my shotgun, and naturally I ignored everything it said the first time I went to shoot clays. I had an older friend with me, who has been shooting a very long time. After I'd put 5 or 10 rounds down field with modest success, he gently offered, "Would you like a lesson?"

I had enough sense to say yes, and you're already going to know the outcome. He told me exactly what I'd read in the book. And it helped. I probably don't get out regularly enough to be as proficient as I could be, but I'm better when I do things right.