Over time, your brain will immediately calculate the swing speed, lead, etc. that you need to break the target. If you shoot "heavy" or 3 dram loads you may get more tired at the end of a match than if you were shooting a "light" or 2 3/4 dram load.
Some shooters feel the "need for speed", especially from long handicap and on windy days, and shoot "heavy" or 1200 fps loads or "handicap" of 1235 fps loads. The faster the load, the more recoil it generates. The more a trap gun weighs, the more recoil energy it absorbs.
The great ATA Hall of Fame member, Ray Stafford, and many other top shooters have won many championships using the 2 3/4 dram load. As memory serves, the $100,000 event at last years Grand was won with a 2 3/4 Dram Federal Paper 8 load.
I like to shoot the 2 3/4 dram 7 1/2 load. My understanding is that at 27 yards behind the house, the larger 7 1/2 shot in the "light" load is moving at approximately the same speed as a "heavy" load of 8's.
If you feel the need to shoot 3 dram or faster shells, you may need to add a recoil moderating device or extra weight to your trap gun. Another strategy to reduce recoil is to shoot a Remington 1100 or other semi-auto.
My Remington 870 weighs 8 1/2 pounds with the addition of a Staub 6 oz. mercury recoil reducer in the butt. I shoot 2 3/4 dram "light" and 2 1/2 dram "extra lite" loads and can break targets from up to 35 yards (games - not ATA) behind the house.
If you reload, try dropping the velocity of your 1 1/8 oz. reloads to around 1100-1125 fps. This is the velocity of the factory "extra lite" loads. They smash targets and are very pleasant to shoot.
Dave: In my opinion, shooting 3 dram loads only produces more recoil to your shoulder. When I buy new shells, I will only purchase 2 3/4 dram shells. My reloads are all in the 1100-1150 fps range. Leave the 3 dram loads alone unless you desire the added recoil. Ed
At the Ohio State shoot last year,I shot with a senior vet. We both shot from the 23 yd. line. I broke my targets harder but he broke more. When we were done,I asked him what loads he was shooting. He replied 2-3/4 #8s. He broke a 96-97 from the 23. He was an All American at 27 yds. with that shell. Years back at the Grands,I broke my best cap scores with 2-3/4 --7-1/2s. When something works,we always have to improve on it? Clyde
I can't really tell a difference in downrange performance when I compare the 2 3/4 dram to the 3 dram loads. I do for sure notice a recoil difference. The last 20 flats of shells that I bought were 2 3/4 dram Estates with #8 shot. They crush targets with authority. And yes I do shoot long yardage with them, and yes I have shot a wide variety of ammo including my own pet handicap shells.
I don't think the ammo matters as much as our pee brains lead us to believe. In other words, the losses are generally not the fault of the ammo. Shooting a shell that doesn't beat you up will help your scores and build confidence.