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Ask the Instructor: Angled vs. Parallel Comb

Question:

Can someone explain why having an angled comb makes sense?  Why wouldn’t everyone want a parallel comb? [100,000 trap shooters can’t be wrong] .  Parallel combs are being offered on more sporting clays guns. And no, I can’t buy the idea that drop is a good idea for correcting a sloppy technique on low and/or high targets.

Answer:

Historically, shotgun stocks have been angled which means they are higher at the peak of the comb (front end, toward receiver) and lower at the heel of the comb (back end, toward the butt). The reason behind this, as with almost everything shotgun related, has its historical origins in English style shooting.

Whether shooting game or targets, shooters did not premount the shotgun (unless you include pigeon/box shooting). For shooters that initiate the gun mount to the cheek and shoulder after the bird becomes visible (e.g. game shooting, FITASC, International Skeet), the sloped comb makes for a more successful mount and more consistent cheek/stock connection. Since mounting a shotgun is dynamic (instead of static, as it is with premounted shooting), the shooter can much more consistently “slide into” the comb and make a good cheek/comb connection. For the disciplines of American Trap and American Skeet, premounting is commonplace. The mount is completed prior to calling for the target and thus an angled comb is of less importance. This is why we see more parallel combs in these disciplines.

There are two commonly held misconceptions about combs: 1) Parallel combs result in a more consistent cheek weld (placement of the cheek to the gun). Again, this is only true if the shooter premounts or has highly aggressive mount mechanics.  2) Angled combs are more likely to cause cheek bruising. This is also not true. To cause cheek bruising, the shooter must either cram his head into the gun with great force during shot execution or lift his head off the stock as he executes the shot causing the recoil to force the gun into the cheek. As with high rib shotguns, parallel combs are not for everyone. Each shooter has to weigh the advantages and disadvantages against their style of shooting.

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