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Ask The Instructor: Winter Butt Pads

Question: If you wear heavy clothes or add a spacer to your gunstock to lengthen the LOP, it would seem to change the point of impact, as your face would be lower on the stock. So would sporting clay shotguns be better off using a parallel stock?

Answer: The short answer is “no.” For shooters who initiate the gun mount to the cheek and shoulder after the bird becomes visible (game shooting, FITASC, International skeet), a sloped comb makes for a more successful mount and more consistent cheek/stock connection. Since the process of mounting a shotgun is dynamic rather than static, the shooter can 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. In these cases, and among sporting clays shooters who always premount, parallel combs are more appropriate. I don’t recommend a parallel comb for any shooter who mounts the gun to the target, as it tends to result in a less consistent mount and cheek/stock connection.

As for changing the length of pull on a shotgun with a parallel versus a sloped comb: It is true that changing LOP on a shotgun with a parallel comb has no effect on the drop at comb. It is also true that changing the LOP on a shotgun with a sloped comb changes the drop at face (and thus the position of the eye over the rib) assuming no other variables are changed. However, changing the LOP by changing butt pads to compensate for winter clothing will not change the drop at face or position of the eye as long as the amount of LOP increase or decrease matches the thickness of the clothes you are adding to your shoulder.

Parallel combs are not for everyone. Each shooter has to weigh the advantages and disadvantages against their style of shooting, but having two butt pads — a shorter one for winter and a thicker one for summer — is not a bad idea.

Don Currie is NSCA’s Chief Instructor, an Orvis Wingshooting School instructor, and Master Class competitor. To get free shooting tips and videos, sign up for his monthly newsletter. You can also see more tips from Currie at

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