Russell Mark Q&A – 2013
Article 10 – 2013
Question: I am a reasonable shooter in the field and also at skeet and sporting clays, but I cannot seem to grasp what I am doing when I shoot trap. Everybody tells me I simply shoot behind the targets when I miss. I try to measure a reasonable amount of lead in front of the targets, but I just have no consistency. Can you explain how much lead I should be using especially on stations one and five? I have no issues leading targets in skeet or sporting.
Geoff Matthews, Lismore NSW
Answer: The most frustrating thing a new shooter can be told in trap shooting when they miss is simply “you shot behind it”. Those four words may be true, but mean nothing unless a solution is offered. Without seeing you actually shoot I will have to take your word that you are indeed missing behind.
The answer may be hidden in your explanation of how you are attempting to lead your trap targets. You state that you “try to measure a reasonable amount of lead in front of the targets”. What you are describing is a form of lead called “sustained” lead. This means that the barrel is held at a constant distance in front of the target for a period of time before the shot is executed. Other methods of lead are “pull away” where the barrel and the target are held together and just before the shot is performed the barrel accelerates faster than the target thus giving the desired amount of lead. The final method is “swing through” where the barrel swings at a faster speeds from behind the target and the trigger is pulled when the barrel actually catches the target. Lead is gained because the barrels are moving faster than the target. The latter method is the ONLY form of lead that should be used in any form of trap shooting. Skeet requires sustained lead and good field and sporting shooters will be required to use a combination of all three techniques.
Targets in trap just do not allow enough time for sustained lead to be used and because trap targets trajectories are unpredictable there is just no consistency in the pull away technique. I would have no doubt that your problems are being caused by trying to be too methodical and actually calculating a distance in front of the target where you are trying to place your shot load. Shooting trap consistently is all about timing and smooth gun pointing. I would suggest you throw a bit of caution to the wind and make a smooth, but aggressive move to the targets that are angled on stations one and five and before long your timing should be breaking then consistently.
Question: I would like your opinion on whether I could use my fathers side by side to shoot in DTL competitions. It is a twin trigger twenty six inch barrel Webley Scott. I think it was built around 1930. My father says it would be sufficient, but most of my shooting mates tell me it is not practical. I don’t want to learn with one gun and then change. What are the advantages and disadvantages of side by sides for shooting trap?
Ron Fox, Brisbane QLD
Answer: The shortest book ever written is “Great Trap Shooters who used a Side by Side shotgun since 1950”. I will go to my grave never having been beaten by someone who uses one.
Advantages; None. Disadvantages; Too many to mention here. Just don’t do it. Go and find a thirty inch barrel trap shotgun.
Article 9 – 2013
Question: I don’t understand what the difference is between a ten thousand dollar shotgun and a one thousand dollar shotgun. If both barrels on both the guns shoot relatively straight why should I spend nine thousand dollars more to buy a Perazzi or a Beretta as opposed to my Churchill under and over? Please explain.
Bob Arnold, Pascoe Vale, VIC
Answer: It’s a question I get asked nearly every day of my life Bob so it’s pretty easy to answer. I do not want to be drawn into a debate as to the dependability of the firearms you mentioned so I will discuss the general quality of the numerous brands that make quality shotguns in the ten thousand dollar region as opposed to the many that are now available for around a grand.
Naturally when you are spending ten thousand dollars on a gun you are expecting a quality firearm. It will have a degree of hand craftsmanship involved and in many cases it will have the luxury of detachable triggers for ease of cleaning, maintenance and even repairs. The cheaper versions will certainly not have this feature and in most cases nor will it even have the option of a barrel selector as part of the trigger assembly.
The woodwork on cheaper shotguns often resembles something you may find on your back boundary fence. The argument is often presented that the quality of wood is irrelevant on a shotgun in terms of the firearms performance however cheaper walnut may not only look worse, but often is prone to cracks, splitting and even breaking. Sadly expensive pieces of timber can also suffer the same fate and that is the reason why the majority of shotgun manufacturers do not offer a warranty on wood. It is too unpredictable.
The checkering on the forend and stock on any ten thousand dollar gun will be hand finished and will be cut much finer than that found on a mass produced shotgun which will have quite coarse grains carved into the wood, usually by machines. This is simply a cost cutting exercise, but will have no real effect on how the shotgun performs.
The wood to metal finish on any high grade shotgun will also almost certainly be completed by hand and the perfect fit that has been obtained by the extra manual labour hours that have been invested into the firearm will be very noticeable as opposed to mass produced shotguns.
Many higher grade manufacturers offer better quality steel in the barrels of their premium model shotguns and as we are now seeing more and more of is even a different barrel making process. Cheaper barrels will have cheaper steel and are constructed under the quickest possible process for completion.
The hidden cost behind many shotguns is not found within the firearm itself. The cost of repair, service and warranties is all too often overlooked by many purchasers. It should be considered as even the best shotguns can have mishaps and if replacement parts are not readily available then the gun is worthless. No doubt cheaper shotguns will suffer operational problems more regularly than more expensive models, but all brands will at some stage need servicing and replacement parts.
Unfortunately price does not always reflect quality. Many of the older English side by side shotguns sell for prices far in excess of ten thousand dollars, but the performance can at times be far less than the cheapest guns available. A very good friend of mine recently arrived at my home range for a shooting lesson with his latest purchase. It was a very high-grade shotgun from a popular British manufacturer. It looked beautiful and so it should have as he paid around thirty thousand dollars for it. We went out onto the range and within a few shots we realized the right barrel had a terrible problem. He couldn’t hit anything with it. We then took it down to the pattern board and sure enough it shot a pattern to the right and half a pattern low. The gun was effectively worthless. This gun as it turns out had at some stage had some barrel work where the chokes were opened up, but they were done poorly thus effecting the performance of the barrel. There is no doubt in my mind on that particular day this gentleman would have swapped his thirty grand English showpiece for a one thousand dollar Turkish model. I guess the lesson here is know the history of your second hand purchase, but before paying for it go and test it. If your shotgun does not shoot straight after you have had it fitted to you then in effect even the most valuable gun is worthless to you.
Article 8 – 2013
Question: My father always told me that when I shoot clays in a competition it is an advantage to shoot at the broken pieces of the clay targets with my second shot even after I have hit them on my first shot. Is this correct? I ask because I have heard different opinions and some of the people in a Trap squad I was shooting in recently were getting upset with me when I was doing it.
Bruce Ronaldson, Queenbeyan NSW
Answer: It is an age old question Bruce and one, which has no definitive answer. My father always taught me to follow, but not shoot at, a broken piece of the target after I hit it on the first barrel so I would learn never to lift my head off the stock of the shotgun so when I actually do miss the clay on the first shot I would already be in the habit of quickly getting ready to fire the second barrel when it was needed. I still do this today and often actually pull the second barrel at a chip when shooting DTL or Olympic Trap. In the latter discipline you occasionally see the best shooters in the world doing this, as it is such a reflex sport that sometimes instinctively competitors do this just to make sure the target is broken. There is no penalty for breaking it on either barrel so if the shooter feels the first shot may not have been perfect the second shot is fired virtually on top of the first one.
In DTL you have quite a bit more time to respond so the instinctiveness is a lot less. Often a chip will go on a completely different course than the original trajectory of the clay and firing at it is anything but instinctive. If you manage to hit a wayward chip it gives you a bit of self-satisfaction, but no extra points. In essence unless you are sponsored by a shot shell company I wouldn’t advice you actually get in the habit of shooting at every chip that is presented to you, but certainly train yourself to keep your head on the stock and aligned just in case you need that second shot to keep you alive in the competition.
In relation to your statement about other competitors getting upset by you at shooting your own chips I would only give them some sympathy if you were clowning around and waiting to the very last tenth of a second to shoot at the broken piece. This would seem unnatural and would put the timing off for the rest of the squad. Of course it is your target and you can do with it as you please, but you need to consider the other squad members and the spirit of the competition you are competing in. If you find yourself shooting on your own all of a sudden you will understand why.
Question: I had some number 4 lead shot left over from my earlier duck shooting days and I just wanted to fire them off at some sporting clays in practice. I have been doing this a bit lately and was told it may not be legal. Is it allowed?
Answer: In a word; NO. Clay target ranges have a safety distance template based on the maximum competition shot size which, depending on USA, English or European shot size codes, is roughly a 6 ½ load. Number 4 shot will travel further and to my knowledge I do not know of a range that will give you permission to shoot them in either Sporting, Skeet or Trap. Your best bet is to shoot them on somebody’s farm over a hand thrower. Number 4’s will get you some impressive range hits.
Article 7 – 2013
Question: I am buying a cheap sporting shotgun just to use shooting in the field and maybe the occasional clay or two on the farm. I was told I need to get it fitted to me if I am going to hit any targets. How important is it to get a proper fit and what things do I need to adjust to do this?
Bruce McLaird, Geelong VIC
Answer: Bruce how important is it to have your shoes fit correctly? You can wear boots that are a size to large or small, but they wont be as comfortable as the right size. Shotguns are the same. The better they fit the more productive you will be with them.
Probably the best place to start is the stock length of the shotgun (referred to as length of pull). The length will affect all the other variables in your gun mount. If I make the assumption that you are of an average height, build and weight for a male let me go through so very typical dimensions for a field type shotgun. Let me stress these are basic dimensions. I cannot fit a shotgun to anyone via email. A normal length is measured from the mid point of the trigger to the top of the recoil pad and then the bottom. A normal length is approximately 370mm to the top and 375mm to the bottom. The difference of 5mm from top to bottom should give enough “pitch” in the stock to sit it comfortably on a typical males shoulder/breast bone.
The height of your gun is measured by running a straight edge over the top of the barrels so it protrudes over the top of your stock. The front of the comb should be around 37mm below the overhanging ruler and the back of a comb on a typical field shotgun will be another 20mm lower at around 57mm. The difference in height between the front and the back of the comb is called the “drop”.
“Cast” is the direction the shotgun stocks bends from the mechanism towards the shoulder you are shooting from. If you are right handed the term used is cast off and for a left-hander it is cast on. Cast is measured by running a dead straight line through the top of the barrel of the gun straight through to the end of the shotguns stock. Imagine looking at the gun suspended on a table looking down from above. The cast at the front of the stocks comb will normally be around 3mm, at the back of the comb 6mm and by turning the stock upside down and looking at the toe of the recoil pad this measurement will normally be a minimum of 12mm off the dead centre mid section of the shotgun.
Length, pitch, height, drop and cast and the major elements of gun fit. They are very personal and will vary from person to person just like your shoes and clothes. Balance of the shotgun is the only other major issue you may like to play with. Most shotguns will be balanced just marginally forward of the centre hinge pin where the mechanism joins the barrels. Weight can be added to or taken out of the stock of the shotgun to help achieve this.
I hope these generic measurements help you on the road to comfortably and accurately using your shotgun.
Article 6 – 2013
Question: I am concerned about the huge differences in scores I am shooting in practice as compared to competition. Is there a pre shot routine you can recommend that will help my competition scores increase as I think its my mental game letting me down? In practice it seems nearly too easy. Any help would be appreciated.
Colin Whitmore, Ipswich QLD
Answer: Without knowing you are ever having seen you use a firearm it is hard to advice you Colin. I have to make the assumption that you are of a reasonable standard to be confident enough for you to state it is “nearly too easy” in practice. If this is the case and your scores are varying enormously from practice to competition then you could very easily be suffering from what is commonly referred to as “little man in the head” syndrome. (I am not sure for females if the little man becomes a little woman, but I would assume so)
This condition only arises when a competitor is put under pressure. The “little man in your head” refers to a voice that suddenly awakens under the stress of competition and starts to give you technical commands as you are about to shoot. The voice only ever appears when you are competing, he is never awake during practice, as practice does not mean enough for this “voice” to interfere with your enjoyment of a day at the practice range. Once scores are being kept, bets made, ability questioned or a crowd forms to watch you this voice notoriously awakens. At first you may not be aware of this phenomenon happening or you may very well think this little guy is there to help you. Trust me he is not. He is sent to you from the devil himself. It is his job to make you miss and when you have missed enough that you no longer can achieve your goals then the little fella will go back to sleep and not awaken again until the next time your competitive ability is challenged.
Identifying the problem is one issue, but combating it is another and this is where your pre shot routine comes into play. It is important to practice your pre shot mental routine as much as it is to practice pulling the trigger shooting at a target. The trick to shooting under pressure is to do it automatically and think of nothing at all. Thinking of nothing is easier said than done, but during your practice rounds you are probably already shooting well on “automatic” and don’t even know it. I suggest that you start developing a pre shot routine that takes no more than ten seconds to complete. About 10 seconds before it’s your turn to shoot start to listen to yourself exhale. This will help slow your heart rate down which is vitally important when shooting under pressure. Whilst your doing this visualize what is about to happen next. If you picture a perfect shot in your mind often the exact same visualization will become a reality. A negative thought by the way will usually follow in the same result also. Once you have perfected this simple pre shot routine in practice you need to try it is competition. You may have to modify it slightly to perfect it depending on the circumstances of the competition, but once you have it right keep working on it and don’t take it for granted. That little man will awaken the first chance you let him.
A decent book that was written many years ago by an American author called Tim Gallwey was “The Inner Game of Golf”. The first few chapters have much relevance to the shooting sports. Give it a read, but don’t get too heavily involved after the basics problems are identified at the beginning of the book. Your shooting brain is like your television set. All you need to know is how to switch it on via the red button on the remote. Don’t ever bother unscrewing the back of the television to see how it all works. Disaster will generally follow!
Article 5 – 2013
Question: Can you explain to me what the difference between a “sporting” model under and over shotgun is as opposed to a “field” model shotgun. I can’t see anything obvious. I can tell the difference between trap and sporting and even skeet shotguns, but looking at the field version of most shotguns I can’t define exactly what the difference is.
Peter McIvor, Leopold VIC
Answer: There are not many differences Peter, but the obvious one is generally a field shotgun is lighter. The comb on the stock will be thinner, the barrels lighter and the sighting ribs are generally not as thick or tapered. Straight grips instead of pistol grips was another defining difference in years gone by and this commonly seen on field side by side shotguns, but these days most under and overs have the standard pistol grip.
Question: I have slowly been converted to trap shooting from sporting clays. One problem I am having is knowing where to actually look for the target just prior to its release. Is there a hard and fast rule to use when using your eyes?
Hayden Dunn, Dandenong VIC
Answer: Trap shooting, whether it be the Olympic or the American version, is unique in the fact that unlike many of the clay target events the trajectory is completely unknown. This being the case a slightly different technique is required to visually acquire the target as opposed to shooting a discipline where the flight path is known.
In Trap shooting a technique called “soft focus” is used when calling for the target. This basically means that a broad area above the top and around the end of your barrel is focused on as opposed to looking at any object in particular. This broad area quickly narrows once the targets flight line is established and at the point of pulling the trigger the target is completed seen in a clear sharp focus. It is impossible to have your vision perfectly clear and concise at a specific distance where you first identify the target in its flight and then quickly refocus on an object that is being hurled through the air and an unknown angle going away from you at eighty kilometres per hour. “Soft” focusing allows you to let the target arrive into an area of space that you know will be the “killing zone”.
This change from a soft to clear focus takes place in about four tenths of a second. It is hard to describe in this short space how it happens, in fact it is not important to know how it happens, just recognize the fact it does happen. I often describe that using your eyes when shooting trap is like drawing the strings on a military duffle bag. When you call pull the bag is open and wide, but as you move towards the target the strings are pulled tighter and tighter to the point where you pull the trigger and at this moment the bag should now be tightly closed.
Article 4 – 2013
Question: I am uncertain what height stock I need to buy for my new shotgun. I mainly shoot clays and plan on shooting trap and sporting clays. I was told I need the stock to measure 35mm if I am going to be able to shoot trap. I have no idea what that means. Is this a standard measurement and is it written somewhere on the stock of the shotgun?
Ian Clayton, Brunswick VIC
Answer: Ian the height of your shotgun stock is similar to your shoe size. Everyone has something a little different. On some brands of stocks the measurement can be color coded on the inside of the neck of the stock where it joins the action, but this is not typical of most manufacturers.
The measurement you were quoted for your trap stock of 35mm is probably the height of the comb at its front edge (the point closest to the barrel). I will quickly explain how this is measured. If you run a straight edge along the top of your barrels rib, a one metre metal ruler is perfect, and let the last 50 centimetres of the ruler overhang the barrels over the top of the comb. From this point get another smaller ruler and measure the distance at ninety degrees from the very top point of the comb to the bottom edge of the ruler. This measurement could typically be anywhere from 30mm to as much as 40mm on any stock. 35mm is probably a good average height at the front of the comb, but it is no means perfect for everybody.
Once you have the measurement at the front of the comb go to the very back of the comb where the recoil pad joins the wood and take another measurement. From this second measurement you can now calculate what is called the “drop” of the comb. On a typical trap stock that we often see imported into Australia on flat rib shotguns the drop measurement will be 10 millimetres. Using our average height of 35 mm at the front of the comb this would mean the height at the back of the comb is 45 mm, thus a difference of 10mm. On Sporting shotguns the height at the front of the comb may be 38mm with a rear measurement of 58mm. The extra 10 mm of drop allows the gun to be mounted quickly when the gun is brought up to the shoulder from a lower starting position such as in a hunting scenario.
Monte Carlo stocks on many trap guns (as discussed last month) have no drop in the comb. They may be 35mm for the entire length of a 120mm comb and have a sharp 10 to 30mm curved indentation cut into the last 20mm of the comb to help position the recoil pad correctly into the shoulder.
Going back to what is considered perfect for yourself is an argument that is fruitless unless someone who knows how to fit a shotgun is actually there with you watching how you physically mount the gun to your shoulder and watching where the comb sits on your face underneath your master eye. I have seen shooters with very high cheekbones have stock dimensions of 26mm, which fit them perfectly. For some shooters the gun is best suited to have a comb much lower. Somebody that is quite bulky in their face may need this or someone who has little or no prominent cheekbone to place the comb underneath and will therefore have to rest the guns stock beside the upper part of their jaw bone. Everyone is built differently so correct fitting on this part of the stock is of paramount importance for accurate and consistent shooting.
Finally if you are going to try to shoot the one stock and one shotgun for both Trap and Sporting Clays try to buy a stock with an adjustable comb. Set the comb at its very lowest setting for sporting and then you can raise the comb to better handle the fast rising clays that trap shooting provides.
Article 3 – 2013
Question: I have had numerous questions from individuals in recent months about the advantages of the higher sighting ribs on many of the latest model shotguns that are currently appearing on the market. I will try and combine all these questions in one answer.
Answer: Nearly every major shotgun manufacturer in the world now offer models that feature higher ribs on their barrels. The standard flat rib, which many of us have grown up with, is around six millimetres in height above the barrel. The ribs now on offer vary from 11mm to 50 mm above the barrel. Many of these ribs can also be adjusted on either the front or back pivot point therefore changing the height and angle that the user looks down along the line of the barrel.
What are the advantages of a higher rib? Clearly the biggest advantage is target acquisition. In laymen’s terms this is simply seeing what you are shooting at better. The higher ribs clear the blind spot caused by (in the case of right handed shooters) the shooters left hand under the forend. The benefit in trapshooting is tremendous, but only if you are opening both eyes to shoot at your target. “Two eyed” shooters have the advantage of being able to start their gun when they call for the target with the shotgun positioned above the trap house therefore being able to cut the target off in its flight path which in essence means less gun movement which equates to less margin of error. If you are forced to shoot with one eye closed, for whatever reason, you cannot shoot with your gun with an above the trap house starting position because with your left eye closed there will be a huge blind spot caused by your left hand. Try this for yourself. Go out to station three on a DTL range hold the gun a metre above the trap house and then close your left eye. Your left hand will be obscuring the view of the front edge of the trap house thus making it impossible to see the target leave the moment it leaves the trap. One-eyed shooters do not have the advantage of peripheral vision that the higher ribs highlight. For this reason alone I would not recommend a high rib gun for a one eyed shooter in any of the trap shooting events.
Does the high rib work well in the field or even in Sporting Clay competitions? The same philosophy applies to these applications of a high rib gun. If you shoot with two eyes open there will be some visual advantages, not as great as in trap, but any benefit is better than none.
A common myth is that having a high rib gun automatically lets you mount the gun with your head very erect. This only is the case if your high rib gun has a stock made correctly. Many of these guns have stocks that have huge “Monte Carlo” stocks made for them. I recently had a high rib shotgun which had a Monte Carlo of 35mm. This is measured by the distance from the top of the end of the comb down to the top of the recoil pad. If the distance is too great then the problem you will have is that your head will be erect, but the recoil pad will sit too low on your shoulder thus having most of the pad sitting below your armpit. Too little or no Monte Carlo for many shooters means that your head will scrunched up on the stock therefore promoting the habit of lifting your head off the stock especially when you are under pressure. I had to get my stock modified to reduce the Monte Carlo distance to 10mm. This is different for everyone. The answer is simply that just like a conventional stock a high rib shotgun needs to have a correctly fitted stock attached to it to ensure its advantages are maximized.
Article 2 – 2013
Question: I have read about changes in clay target shooting rules to for events like the Olympic and Commonwealth Games. Can you explain these and offer an opinion.
Paul Harris, Ararat VIC
Answer: On January 1st, 2013 the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) decided to radically change the way the “finals” in all clay target events will be contested after the qualification rounds have been completed. This is for all events conducted under ISSF rules from club level to Olympic Games. For example in the Men’s Olympic Trap competition the previous event was conducted with five rounds of qualifying over two days (125 targets). The top six competitors then shot a further 25 targets (single barrel only) to determine the winner. The finals score and qualification score were added together to give a possible total score of 150. The new rules have the qualification rounds conducted for the most part in the same way, but instead of the top six competitors shooting a further 25 targets and having a total aggregate of 150 the leading half dozen will now shoot a further 15 targets. From this point the qualification scores are eliminated and the top six start the “semi final” at zero. From this 15 targets the top two scores will shoot a further 15 shots single barrel (again starting at zero) to decide the gold and silver medal. This one on one contest is refereed to as a “duel”. The third and fourth highest scores from the 15 target semi final will also shoot at a further 15 target duel to determine the bronze medallist.
In the Skeet event qualification remains the same although the sequence of shooting through the eight stations have changed and the target distance has been increased by 2 metres. The semi finals in Skeet are only shot as Doubles off stations 3,4 and 5, eight pair in total with a “reverse pair off stations three and five. This means that on station three the low tower must be shot first followed by the high tower. The opposite applies on station 5.
Double Trap has the most radical changes with the qualification series consisting of five rounds of 15 pairs, but the three applicable Double Trap settings will now all be thrown entirely randomly so the competitor has no idea exactly what two targets of the three possible targets will be thrown. Off each of the 5 stations a competitor must received one of each of the three pre-designated schemes. The random delayed release has been eliminated so the targets will now be thrown on the call of the shooter.
All of these changes have been made for one reason. The ISSF want to make the event more exciting to watch, particularly on television during the Olympic Games. The ISSF long ago identified that shooting was not the most spectator friendly event and this head to head battle for medals over a short period of time will obviously make it a better event for the general public. The 25 target “final” that was previously contested was a move in the right direction, but it often took more than 30 minutes to conduct and in many cases a huge lead can be built up by a competitor so the excitement value was diminished. In the new 15 target “duel” no carry over score will be possible so a close, fast contest will be assured.
My opinion as a shooter is that it is simply a change of attitude that is needed. We have come from a culture that has expected that the qualifying rounds will benefit us going into the final round. It doesn’t in sports like Swimming or Athletics so I guess the examples are already there. If it helps people watch it on television and ultimately then saves the Shooting sports from being abolished from the Olympic Games then I believe it will be beneficial.
Article 1 – 2013
Question: I have read where you state that the effective maximum killing range of a shotgun for clay targets is around 40 metres. I often shoot targets at sporting ranges going away from me like trap targets at a distance of at least 60 metres. Is the fact that I can break them consistently at that distance with my improved cylinder Miroku good luck or am I just a good shooter? The further I am away from the target the better I shoot. Why is that?
Answer: I will assume you are serious so congratulations on being the first shotgun shooter in the history of our sport to get better with distance. I have withheld your name to save you the embarrassment I am about to cause you.
First of all lets deal with the effective range of a shotgun and make the assumption that you are shooting shot size number 7 and a payload of no greater than 28 grams as this is the maximum amount to be used at National competition in major sporting clay competitions in Australia. The single hardest shot I could imagine in clay target shooting would be a “target going away from me at a distance of at least 60 metres”. For the target to be moving away would mean the clay is probably travelling with only the edge or rim facing you. This would mean it would take the most pellets with the greatest amount of penetration to actually bust the target apart. Targets in sporting clays can often be thrown across the face of the shooter with a full faced “belly” presenting itself for the competitor to break. This obviously is a far greater percentage shot than an edge on target, but the target you are describing is hardly that. I actually find it hard to believe that the person setting the targets at the range you are shooting at hasn’t been lynched by an angry mob of frustrated sporting shooters!
The effective range of 40 metres I often refer to is in relation to trap shooting where of course the targets are the same as you describe, travelling away from the shooter. I would stand by this and I would also recommend at this distance the only choke to use is a “full” choke. Trap shooters who have variable screw in chokes available often ask me about what constriction they should use at this distance and beyond. I always tell them if you have the choice and are consistently going to be shooting at these distances then find your full choke, go soak it in the saltiest water you can find and screw it tight into your top barrel. You won’t ever need anything else. For you to constantly break clays going away from you at 60 metres with no more than an improved cylinder choke is nothing short of miraculous.
The other variable at targets that are shot at distances of 60 metres and beyond with shot sizes no larger than number 7 is the amount of elevation your shot pattern will fall over this distance. What I am suggesting here is at 60 metres to hit a target with this size shot you will need to actually shoot over the target to “lob” the shot column on top of the target due to the presence of gravity. Hard to believe? Go to your local gun club and shoot at their pattern board at 60 metres. If you have a standard 1.5 metre by 1.5 metre board and you shoot at the centre of the plate there is a big chance you will miss the aiming surface all together and at best have a smattering of pellets on the very bottom portion of the board. Needless to say this makes judging accuracy very difficult.
In closing I think you need to check a couple facts. First of all measure out the distance you are actually breaking these targets at. If it is in actual fact 60 metres and beyond then go check the Oxford Dictionary definition of “consistently”. Make sure you are not confusing it with the definition of “sometimes”.