Whether you are shooting traps, skeet, or sporting clays, many guides outline the basics for shooting clay pigeons (sometimes called “disks” due to their shape). Knowing the mechanics of how to shoot disks is essential, but the gun you use is just as important.
How do you decide which gun is best for you? In a nutshell, the best disk shooting gun is one that fits you. That means it must fit your body size. The type of action, whether it is over/under, side-by-side, auto-loader, or pump, is an aspect that also must be considered.
The goal is to find the right shotgun for you that will be fun to shoot and give you years of enjoyment.
What Does “Fit” Mean?
First, let’s discuss gun fit. Your shotgun should feel natural and comfortable to shoot, and that is directly related to how the gun fits you. You should never adjust the way you shoot (provided you shoot properly) to fit the gun. The gun should always fit you, not the other way around.
Using a shotgun that is too small or too large for your frame makes it difficult to hit your target, whether it be birds or disks. For example, shooting a shotgun that is too long is extremely difficult because you cannot place your hands in the proper positions to be successful. If the shotgun is too short, you are bunching up your frame to accommodate the smaller-sized firearm.
Most shotguns are made for the average male shooter, with an average meaning about 5’10” and 185 pounds. Unfortunately, everyone doesn’t fit those dimensions. What do you do if you aren’t the average man size?
The dimensions of your shotgun contribute to a good or bad fit. Things like length of pull, pitch, drop, cast, and barrel length all play a part in how your shotgun fits your body. Sounds complicated? Don’t worry. In fact, there are professional fitters who specialize in helping you achieve the right fit.
GunSkins is here to help break it down.
Breaking Down the Basics
Many factors influence the fit of your shotgun. The dimensions of the shotgun and your physical dimensions all work together to achieve the perfect fit. The two most important dimensions are how the shotgun fits in your shoulder and how your cheek fits on the gun.
Next, your hands should fit comfortably around and on the gun, and the barrel should be of the proper length for your body size.
The first check of shotgun fit is to measure the distance from your thumb to your nose when holding your unloaded gun in the proper shooting position. If you don’t have at least an inch, you do not have the proper fit.
Other indicators of fit include:
The stock should fit comfortably in the spot just inside your shoulder joint. If the stock is too long, you will have an uncomfortable reach for the trigger and will not be able to “lock” the buttstock in place against your shoulder. If the stock is too short, your arms will be awkward and uncomfortable, and you will experience more recoil to your shoulder and cheek.
Both of these situations make it hard to swing the gun into position naturally, resulting in missed shots and a bruised shoulder.
Stocks that are too long can be shortened (cut off), and too short stocks can be lengthened by adding a thicker pad to the end of the rifle.
Your cheek should fit properly on the comb of the shotgun (the top portion of the stock), and the comb should fit firmly under your cheekbone. If you cannot clearly see down the shotgun in this position, you do not have a proper fit. The position of your head should be rather neutral without much bend.
As with the stock, the comb of the shotgun can be modified for a better fit.
The grip on the shotgun should be sized properly for your shooting hand. If it doesn't fit, the problem is often a grip that is too big, which makes your hand unsteady with improper placement of your finger on the trigger.
Your supporting arm should have a comfortable bend when holding the shotgun. If your arm is too straight or too bent, you will not be able to provide the stability needed for a successful shot. Your supporting arm carries the weight of the shotgun, so you need a comfortable position that provides enough strength for a smooth shot.
Grips can be modified, and shortening or lengthening the stock can help with the proper placement of your supporting arm. A grip adhesive is a great option to make sure that your grip is smooth and unique to the particular shape of your firearm.
Barrel length is sometimes overlooked when seeking the proper fit for your shotgun. A barrel that is too long is hard to balance and swing into position, especially for smaller shooters. Try to swing a broom handle into a shooting position, then swing a pencil the same way. Although this is an exaggeration, you get the idea.
Barrels can also be shortened, but before making that kind of modification to your shotgun, consider whether or not this shotgun is the right one for you. If the overall weight of the shotgun is too heavy for you, shortening the barrel might not be the solution.
If you have a long list of modifications needed to fit your gun properly, you might need to consider purchasing another gun.
If you decide to have your shotgun modified, GunSkins recommends taking your gun to a professional gun fitter for modifications. The last thing you want to do is ruin your gun by modifying it yourself.
Choosing a Gun
If you are looking to buy a gun, there are many options.
If your goal is disk shooting, you need a shotgun that holds at least two shells, so single shotguns are not an option. That leaves over/under, side-by-side, auto-loaders, and pumps as the most suitable disk shooting firearms.
Over/Unders are the most popular disk shooting shotgun because they are reliable, weather-resistant (because of the closed action), and don’t throw shells everywhere. Some over/unders have ported barrels that reduce recoil, making getting off the second shot easier. Over/unders are also more likely to be cast for left and right-handed shooters, which is a real benefit for the lefties out there.
Side-by-Side is a historical style that is a favorite of traditional hunters and is often used on disk courses to practice for hunting season. These shotguns aren’t typically made specifically for disk shooting. Side-by-side shotguns are one of the more expensive shotguns, so if the price is a factor, this firearm may not be the best choice.
Auto-loader shotguns also are a favorite. They provide a high rate of fire, low-recoil, and easy follow-up shots because the gun cycles automatically. Gas-operated auto-loaders are even more comfortable to shoot because of the dampening effect of the gas-operated mechanism.
Auto-loaders are also one of the more economical shotguns to purchase. A downside of this shotgun is they need regular cleaning to keep the shells from getting stuck in action.
Pumps are also known as side action shotguns. These guns are operated manually by sliding the forearm to eject the shell and load a new one. They also hold up to 6 shells, including one in the chamber. As expected, with a manually operated shotgun, they have a slower rate of fire. Pump-action shotguns are relatively inexpensive, with many running just a few hundred dollars.
A Word About Price
Shotguns, like most things, have a wide price range. Pump-action shotguns can be purchased for a few hundred dollars. High-end shotguns range from $1,000 upwards to $30,000 or more. The price range applies to used as well as new guns. Some older shotguns can be even more expensive than a new one depending on the make and model.
Shotguns are offered in various finishes, from plain field guns to elegantly engraved models. Engraving is generally evaluated on a percentage basis, including 25, 50, and 75 percent engraving on the receiver. The more engraving and more intricate the engraving, the higher the price.
Rarely is a shotgun 100% engraved because that means even the barrel is engraved. Skip the engraving if you are looking for a basic shotgun for disk shooting.
When choosing the best disk shooting gun for you, consider fit, action, and price. All of these factors work together to determine what is best for you. Now it’s time to think about customizing your shotgun, and GunSkins has everything you need.
Our shotgun wraps give your gun a killer look and protect it simultaneously because our wraps are 100% waterproof. There are a lot of styles to choose from to fit any activity. Whether you are hunting or heading to the range, a custom vinyl wrap can improve every aspect of your loadout.