Can you explain why having an angled comb makes sense? Why wouldn’t everyone want a parallel comb? 100,000 trap shooters can’t be wrong.
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 has its origins in English-style shooting, in which shooters did not premount the shotgun, except in pigeon/box shooting. For shooters that initiate the gun mount to the cheek and shoulder after the bird becomes visible, as in game shooting, FITASC and International Skeet, the sloped comb makes for a more successful mount and consistent cheek/stock connection. Since mounting a shotgun is dynamic rather than static, 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 common 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 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 his cheek.
As with high-rib shotguns, parallel combs are not for everyone. Each shooter has to weigh the advantages and disadvantages against his or her style of shooting.
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 www.doncurrie.com.