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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My 14 year old son recently finished his Distinguished Expert NRA award.
He started shooting 12ga TRAP one year ago with a beat up, used BT-99.
We occasionally shoot skeet and I bought him a Beretta X400 Xplor so he could shoot the doubles.
He's not very strong, with little upper body strength, he grew several inches this year so he's tall and thin.
He's been consistently hitting 22/25 lately and I've been told he's good enough to begin competing so I'm looking in to ATA competition for 2016.

With that in mind, I'd like to get him a better, dedicated TRAP gun.
I'm willing to spend up to $3500, if necessary, but really prefer something closer to $2k.
The gun doesn't have to be new, but shopping for a high quality used gun can be PITA

Questions:
(when answering, please bear in mind this is in the context of a learning, but good, teen with limited upper body strength)

What would be better, a 30, 32, 34 inch barrel? why?
What would be better, a new adjustable high rib BT-99 or a model (725?) with an unsingle? Why?
What would be better, a new adjustable high rib BT-99, a 725 unsingle or a Ljutic adjustable rib Mono? Why?
Others?

I like the idea of the 725 unsingle/combo so he can use the unsingle for TRAP and the OU for skeet, but they're pricey.

Since he's still growing, should I get a stock with adjustable comb, lop?
EDIT: Forgot to mention, he's been mostly shooting his Beretta with a shell catcher, our BT-99's butt is so old and hard he can't shoot with it, hurts too much. I'm ordering a replacement soon.
 

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how can you beat a new BT99 32" or 34"- if he's small get a micro stock $1200-1400
or get a guns unlimited BT99 w/ taller rib for higher POI-still only $1800 or so
on adj stock-I wouldn't cuz it adds weight

ps: if he's shooting an old bt99 now- what % slope is the rib--the letters in the serial # tell year mfg and some were high shooters
another words , if he's shooting that well now, he's use to a certain POI
 

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Can he handle the recoil of a fixed breech gun? If he does not have a lot of upper body strength I would think recoil would soon be a factor. I think I would seriously look at the Beretta A400 multi target if you are open to a semi auto. Not a heavy gun and plenty of adjustments to shoot a variety of clay targets.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Can he handle the recoil of a fixed breech gun? If he does not have a lot of upper body strength I would think recoil would soon be a factor. I think I would seriously look at the Beretta A400 multi target if you are open to a semi auto. Not a heavy gun and plenty of adjustments to shoot a variety of clay targets.
He can handle the recoil, but I'd like to reduce it as much as possible.
At present he's shooting his Beretta Xplor Xcel, it is a nice gun, lightweight, etc, but the shell catcher is piece of junk, it falls off, and he can't shoot without it. The Xplor really spits out the shells.
Personally I prefer fixed breech. They're easier to clean, safer for kids (an open breech is safe, an auto *might* be).
Maybe I could get a multitarget barrel for his current Xcel?
 

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being able to break the gun open and place the barrel on his toe in between shots will enable him to rest and relax in between each target. if upper body strength is an issue this would be a better situation.

My first gun was a Beretta 686 special. 28 inch barrels. Great gun!!
 

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You should be able to get a decent Browning or Beretta O/U from your available budget. I would suggest nothing longer than 30 in. barrels. With chokes tubes they can do triple duty on Trap, Sporting, and Skeet.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
We have pads to rest muzzles between shots, NEVER on feet, never loaded, safety, safety, safety.

Now, anyone care to answer any of my questions?

What would be better, a 30, 32, 34 inch barrel? why?
What would be better, a new adjustable high rib BT-99 or another model with an unsingle? Why?
 

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If it was me and your son has the upper body strength I would go with a Used Ljutic mono great gun and bought used hold their value. As far as barrel length I like a 34" long barrel but that's me. Good luck
 

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Shooting is a sport and like all sports training and building muscles learning muscle control are part of improving in any game. A BT-99 even a highly used one if properly fitted will break targets as well as any gun, don't let anyone kid you on this, they're a target breaking machine

My view is he has a gun that is average weight and he should learn to master lifting and pointing the gun until it becomes second nature meaning he has to invest time and focus to improve. When I started my son shooting we did gun lifts at home pointing at spots on the wall until he could do a hundred reps which vastly improved his shooting. In other words work with what you have before investing in something that may not give any improvements because whatever you buy he will still have to master lifting and controlling the gun.

Gun fit is critical and that's the area you should be investing, if the gun has no comb and pad adjustments then consider adding them along with an adjustable length of pull with recoil reduction system to stay abreast of his growth (contact Tron on this sight for these modifications). It sounds like your son may becoming tall and lanky and may have a long neck, if so a mid rib or added on rib may help with gun fit. I think it would be money well spent if you had a professional fit his gun and you may have to have him fitted again as he grows.

I think most agree a 34" barrel for singles and handicap targets is the way to go unless a shooter is small in stature but barrel length is subjective and another length may work just fine, most also agree 30'' for doubles but again it's subjective. I would not consider an un-single as many shooters have a difficult time shooting them and you may be doing him a disservice buying him. one.

Don't know why the shell catcher is popping off his Explor unless he's not clipping in on properly, I think the instructions say to clip the catcher on with the bolt closed, you may check this out or you may have faulty catcher. You could have Tron weld on a deflector stud. The 400 Explor is a great gun and see no reason the replace it if he shoots it well, let him clean it it's part of his shooting experience to be responsible for his equipment.

One thing about trap shooters they're always up for buying a new gun a new toy especially if it's someone else's money..

Surfer
 

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I would seriously look at a Beretta 682 combo. A great gun at an affordable price. A 32" single barrel will give him the sighting plane he needs, and will do nicely for him right now. As he gets older and develops more upper body strength he may want to go to a 34" barrel as it may be easier for him to handle. A 34" barrel will slip right on it with minimal fitting, if any, required. As for the O/U barrels, I would get him 30" barrels. They are much easier to swing when shooting doubles and allow faster target acquisition, which is imperative when shooting doubles. I am 6' tall and weight 210lbs with very good upper body strength, and I shoot 30" O/U barrels because they are much easier to control. If you, and your son, are serious about him shooting competitively, he must start now doing gun lifts and mounts at least 50-100 times daily. I would strongly recommend a Terry Jordan wall chart as a must have accessory for him. This will quickly build up his upper body strength and get him ready for those 500+ target week ends that come with the sport. As for the adjustable rib, I am not a big fan of them. It's just a gimmick that is more cost than it's worth. You can get the same results from an adjustable comb. I also would stay away from an unsingle right now. An unsingle takes your eye too far away from the barrel, in my opinion, and causes a visual dis-connect between the rib and the barrel. It is extremely important, especially when just getting started, to keep your eye as close to the barrel as possible without obscuring the target.... You will get many differing opinion, for sure, but, this is a good place to start.... Just my experience
 
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I would look at a couple of things here, 1. You mentioned he is shooting a BT-99 now,why not do some basic rebuild on it along with some stock work to reduce recoil such as a recoil reducing device like a gracoil or RAD. THe BT-99 is light enough so that he will not get fatigued and as he build up his upper body strength all the better. The Gracoil and RAD are adjustable LOP and will allow him go grow with the gun. 2. I know that the 400 explorer you are not too happy with so maybey sell it and move to a Beretta or Browning O/U with 30" Bls. that fits you son well? Just food for thought as you have established a budjet but why use it all up if you do not have to and your son did well with the old BT? WIth some up dates it might be just fine to roll with :) I agree with acss on the POI of your current BT check that out for sure.
 

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In ref. to BL. I would feel that a 34 " would be fine in a single bl. I work with a lot of shooters that are small stature and have BT-99 micros on hand for that but as you are describing your son a tall and thin I do not feel a 34" would put him at a disadvantage.
If you are choosing a O/U you will want him to try befor you buy and if you are at some local clubs Im sure there a quite a few shooter who would let you check out what they are using and why, as the bal. and weight distribution will be very different from the 400 and the BT.If you are going to use it as a multi purpose shotgun say for skeet/trap doubles/sporting clays get a 30" I use a 30" Browning for sporting clays and balances well for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I failed to mention, our current BT-99 is not worth investing in. I bought it used for $800 retail before I knew ANYTHING about buying a shotgun.
It's spent and needs to be retired. I just shot it myself about 1/2 hr ago and hit an 18, not too shabby with my old eyes, but the gun is very loose.
That's why I suggested a new BT-99 right from the start.
He was doing dry mounts at home, but stopped when we switched to the Beretta. I guess we could use the current BT-99 just as a shotgun "weight" and have him use it for practice.
Thanks for the suggestions so far
 

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DO NOT start him out with the muzzle on his foot !! Had a boy did that some years ago and blew the front of his foot off !!!!!!
If in deed this happened with a break open gun as I stated in my previous thread.
Resting the barrel of a break open gun in the open position it is NOT possible to shoot your foot.

The "kid" who shot his/her foot should have had the parent charged with abuse. If your child is not intelligent enough to think about a loaded gun and where the muzzle should be you putting everyone in danger.

As for you sir it it utterly pointless to make your statement to begin with.
UNLESS IT WAS YOUR CHILD WHO SHOT them self.
There are 1000s of shooters that do it.

Stop drinking the stupid juice and Merry Christmas
 

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Im going to throw out a differing opinion on his relative strength. Instead of worrying about the gun being too heavy, work on his strength.

If it's possible, some weights will do a kid his age a world of good. I graduated high school at 6" and 135. I started lifting weights afterward and then started competing at powerlifting. I started shooting again years later and am now between 220 and 242 depending on what meet I'm getting ready for. I shoot so much better now at 33 then I ever did as a teenager and not shooting for 15 years. I attribute that mostly just being stronger and I'm not recoil sensitive like I used to be.

That's completely anecdotal and I'm not saying he needs to gain a bunch of weight, but its something to think about. I'm also not saying smaller people don't shoot just as well if I chose it wouldn't be being rail thin.
 

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The way I see it is your son has a upper body strength weakness, which is normal in youth. He is also slightly recoil sensitive as well. So all O/U shotguns are out for about 2 more years. So you are left with Auto's or a single barrel trap gun. Single barrel trap guns will not reduce recoil and will force you to buy a recoil device of some type for any of them. Vern brown makes the PFS, which is a excellent unit, it is totally adjustable for length of Pull, and has the Adjustable comb and the Adjustable butt plate built into it, and is also one of the best recoil reducers on the market today. These units will work just fine with the BT-99 you already have. This PFS Stock will grow with your son as he grows. Your only other real option would be using a Automatic that you will have to have fitted (several times) and keep adding wood or plastic to the stock after you shorten it for the correct length for your son. So unless you know a good stock-guy to do this work, or you are very handy yourself to keep any Automatic fitting him as he grows by adding spacers is a bit of a problem. Now, Jack West makes a very nice syn. stock for the Rem. 1100 that's pretty easy to adjust yourself as it a composite and comes with the adj. comb, adj. butt plate and different spacers for the length of pull. This type of stock is not made for the Beretta's that I am aware of, even though they are a better made Automatic in my opinion. So best of Luck with your search. Break em all. Jeff

Google PFS Stocks (Precision fit stocks) to find out all about them. You can buy these units used on this site, these stocks would be my #1 choice for all youth shooters today. Around $800 used and few hundred more for a new one. Keep in mind that the PFS will fit many other shotguns, but not all. So if your son likes the PFS, but wants to up-grade to a O/U or Combo gun down the road all you have to do is get a different grip for the new gun, so your not locked into any one gun, you can always up-grade when his upper body is ready. Just make sure you can get a grip for the up-grade. Hope this helps you out.
 
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