trap skeet shooting shotgun vintage
(AP Photo)

As much as we try to minimize risk as gun owners, the shooting sports can still be dangerous. Accidents happen — I’ve treated at least one gunshot wound at a shooting competition, and can remember countless other instances of Garand thumb and slide bite.

All of us want to go home with the same number of holes as we arrived at the range with and in general, we take steps to make sure that happens. But it seems like one practice by one specific group of shooters might be unnecessarily risky.

Shotgun Foot Rest Trap Shooter
courtesy amazon.com

If you’ve ever been out to a range with trap fields you’ll notice something…strange.

Despite the constant reminders to maintain the four rules of firearm safety that you’ll hear preached throughout the gun community, trap shooters, by and large, have a nasty habit of resting the barrel of their shotgun on their foot while not shooting.

It’s become such an accepted thing at this point that there are even special accessories designed to make it easier to do and to protect your shoe. But a story I found is a great reminder why this practice is a very, very bad idea. And be warned: this next image is not for the faint of heart.

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From what I can find, the patient had been trap shooting and resting the barrel of their shotgun on their foot (as one does) between turns. Maybe they loaded for a double and forgot to unload an unused shell. Maybe they loaded their gun prematurely.

The Amateur Trapshooting Association rule book has this to say about the practice:

While not prohibited, the practice of resting the muzzle of a shotgun on a shooter’s toe is ill-advised and is discouraged.

It should be easy to see why.

If you really want to rest your barrel on the ground while the rest of your squad shoots, there are other, safer options out there.

Whatever the ATA rules say, the person pictured above was likely violating the second and third of Jeff Cooper’s time honored safety rules when they discovered a 12 gauge hole had opened straight through their foot.

Bad habits lead to bad outcomes. Even with a break action shotgun…don’t be that guy.

71 COMMENTS

  1. There are certain irreplaceable things being muzzled during appendix carry that you REALLY would not want even a .22 passing through and if you are really unlucky that day you could get both the male and the fem…oral with the same shot.

    But as the old saying goes about the foot – that’s why God gave you two of ’em.

    Still, that’s a hell of a hole to have to plug.

    • And? You flag just as many important items with a holster IWB at 3-4o clock as well. Taking your time reholstering and keeping your finger off the trigger are safety enough when carrying AIWB.

      • The nice thing about thumb safeties is that it takes more than unintended pressure on the trigger to fire the gun. A 1911 is much more forgiving than a Glock.

        • Before you shoot the gunm you have to take the safety off.
          “How do I do that?”
          You pull the trigger.

      • “You flag just as many important items with a holster IWB at 3-4o clock as well”

        Sigh. Citation needed, I certainly don’t. What a dumb argument to make.

        • Weird. I don’t flag myself re-holstering AIWB either. What a dumb argument you started. Plus I have the added benefits of more easily protecting my weapon if I’m in a grapple and access to my weapon if I’m knocked on the ground.

        • You don’t flag your leg/femoral artery/kneecap/ankle/foot EVER when carrying strong side IWB? Well then that’s genuinely impressive, since you’ve figured out a way of walking/moving/standing that isn’t what the entirety of humanity has done throughout our history. If you can ensure your strong side leg is, at all times, well in front of your body and never behind it, you deserve a medal

      • If you lean a bit forward and to your off side you can avoid pointing the gun at your rear end and down your leg when you are shoving your pistol into a holster carried at 3-4:30. Watch where your foot is as well. By doing this you can really minimize the risk of putting a hole where you don’t want it if some clothing accidentally gets in the way while you are re-holstering your pistol.

        • And you can lean back while holstering appendix and take your time so you don’t flag yourself as well…

  2. appendix carry is only for seasoned professionals……. not recommended for the accident prone crowd…. or the MO ron crowd, which seems to be in abundance in the TTAG comment section…….. truth hurts

    • “appendix carry is only for seasoned professionals…….”

      Non-pros can do it safely, with caveats – Double-action with a stout trigger pull is *vastly* safer than striker-fired…

      • Better yet, a REAL professional at carrying doesn’t even carry a gun! After all, any *true* professional will tell you that there’s no such thing as a method of carrying that is 100% idiot proof, where the carrier both cannot make a mistake and cannot suffer the consequences of the mistake they can’t make, so therefore anyone carrying a gun is an idiot who deserves to blow a whole through an artery

        (/sarc)

  3. I have no idea how you’d even do that while resting the muzzle of an over-under on your foot. The inherent safety of one is that it obviously cannot be shot if the breach is open and it is hard to rest the muzzle on your foot when your 32″ barrel trap gun is closed…someone was a special kind of stupid for the image like that to occur.

  4. Oh yes. See guys do it all the time. Knew a sporting clays pro and range owner with a big old ouchie like that. Bet he wont do that again.

  5. There’s a footloose joke there somewhere. Damned if I can find it though. Maybe it’s in his other shoe?

    As for the comparison to AWIB, well, if you can’t see why that’s a faulty comparison then perhaps McD’s has a “career” for you. Maybe not though.

    • Uhm, is AWIB different than AIWB in some way?

      • The typo sort of way.

        Unless you’re actually talking about Asian Women in Business or the Alaska Workforce Investment Board.

        Either of which might be why autocorrect didn’t bother me about it.

  6. This is something I’m guilty of and not just trap shooting. I only do it when the gun is unloaded and the action is open but still…. (see rule 1 & 2) The solution is to either use a sling or set the firearm down.

    I’m trying to be better. Already got plantar facitis unless I stretch my calves, sure as hell don’t need a complex surgery with no health insurance.

  7. All he needs to do is shoot a hole in his other foot, jam a railroad spikes in them and he could climb trees like a boss.

  8. Hey, little troll with no testicles –

    You need to take up trap shooting and show them you’re not scared of parking your muzzle on your shoe!

    • Interesting!

      Someone’s response to me just evaporated into thin air…

      *snicker* 🙂

  9. This is one of the things that gives Elmer Fudds a bad name. Reminds me of the Portland Police officer who shot his wife with a 12 gauge shotgun in an obscenely brutal manner. Responding officers found her on the bed, nude, with a singular entry wound “in the area of her buttocks.”. The neighbors heard then arguing and yelling, but not the gun shot. The cops and the District Attorney accepted the explaination that he had simply forgotten to unload his 12 gauge before “playing around” with it. My sarcastic suggestion that the Portland Police Department implement a program to distribute Kevlar condoms to their officers so that they could practice safe shotgun sex was not appreciated.

    • “Looks like he was about a foot short on his lead.”

      She, if memory serves.

      When that article published a while back, I asked if anyone with medical knowledge could speculate on the prognosis of a wound like that, and the person who responded guessed she would lose total function in several toes, but would probably retain big toe function.

      And all things considered, that’s not a bad outcome, since the big toe really assists with important things like walking…

  10. This is a very common practice however doing it with anything but a break open shotgun that is open and unloaded is stupid. If you use a semi-auto or pump this is not a safe practice as evidenced by the picture.

  11. Take the foot. Leave the ankle. Buy a new titanium foot. Lot less hassle than that’s going to be.

  12. and how long have people been trap shooting with no issues at all?

    Accidents are going to happen. Combine that with the reality that people do gets careless and some people don’t seem to ever understand gun safety. Beretta and other companies have made and sold many of these fobs over the years. If this were a real issue, they would no longer make them. This is about training and safe handling etiquette. Like so many things in life, stupid decisions come with stupid consequences.

  13. Not a fan of how rule 1 is worded. Promotes paranoia and fear of the gun instead of respect.

    I prefer to put it as “A gun is loaded until proven otherwise.”

      • No, you have to treat them as unknown. Assuming either condition would cause problems, just under different circumstances. I check my carry gun to make sure it is loaded in the morning rather than just assuming it is.

    • If it was (as written) true we’d never need to load a gun and we’d consider all guns ready to go. That would be at least as big a problem. It is kinda like dumb “zero tolerance” thinking.

  14. A break action shotgun that is open is as safe as a Smith and Wesson, Third Generation, semiautomatic pistol with the selector and safe and the magazine extracted to engage the magazine disconnect safety. However; you still obey Rules 1, 2, 3 & 4.

    • It appears so, otherwise this idiot wouldn’t have a perforation in his food.

      Is that guy in the photo editing at a target or is a squatting to take a shit? Maybe he should take his pants off first?

      I still can’t believe that anyone is marketing those foot fobs much less making sales. Perhaps I could make some money marketing Kevlar condoms so officers in big city police departments that are hostile to citizens who own guns can practice safe shotgun sex?

      • This was actually an established way to shoot back in the 40’s and 50’s. Hell I used to shoot with oldtimers who would shoot skeet from the hip and not bring their shotgun up to their shoulder. They actually did pretty well and score 20 to 22 breaks. Also look at the way police were taught to shoot back then. They squatted down and shot with one hand and did not aim. They relied on “point shooting” and where specifically told not to use their sights because it was not effective. Now a days if you showed up at a practical pistol shoot and squat down and shot without using your sights you would be laughed out of the place.

  15. The fudds out there at these shoots will tell you they know better and all about proper gun handling because we’ve all got it wrong.

  16. Cleanest point-blank wound I’ve ever seen. Where did 1 1/8 oz. of 7 1/2 shout, a wad and 33 grains of powder go?

    • “Where did 1 1/8 oz. of 7 1/2 shout, a wad and 33 grains of powder go?”

      I’d guess through the sock and sole, and then 6-12 inches straight down into the surface she was standing on… 🙂

  17. One of the many reasons it’s stupid is that the practice can gravitate to other disciplines. I’ve seen it at least twice in the real world. Both in rifle classes. One I was instructing, the other I was visiting. Each person was a long-time trap/skeet shooter and getting instructions on handling/shooting AR’s for the first time. For the latter, I made the instructor aware who called an immediate and very public verbal beatdown. I did the same with my student. Each professed they were doing it absent-mindedly after many years of doing it on clays ranges. As the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt, or something like that.

    • “I have more respect for my shotgun than that…”

      I have more respect for my foot than to do *that*…

  18. Ive done it a lot. All day tournaments and practice
    Means a lot of gun handling. I think it’s like any IWB carry
    As far as risk. Actually less risky. IWB means it is loaded.
    I always make sure my chambers clear and my bolt is locked to the rear when leaving a stand and when I’m moving between stands.
    I’m also a believer in the idea of “If it can only hurt you it’s
    your call”. Pretty self selecting.
    The sanctimonious of the safety cult is wearing thin
    With the Covid scolds using up whatever tolerance I had for people who need to scold me to protect me from me.

  19. Trapshooters, if you’re using a break-action shotgun and you rest it open on your foot, continue to do so. There is not a safer condition for a break-open firearm to be in.

    If you’re using a pump or semiauto, do not do this.

  20. Interesting that none of the wise, know-everything people around here even noticed the pic of shooters in the article is obviously of a SKEET shoot. Personally, as one who regularly participates in shotgun sports, I believe the shoe rest accessory and allowing one to rest the gun on the top of the foot should be banned from the fields. Several of the clubs where I shoot have squares of carpet or tire tread on the stations to rest the muzzle on but IMO, whether shotgun or rifle, I believe one should do everything they can to keep the muzzle or crown from being placed on or near anything that could either damage them for accuracy sake or to allow an obstruction to enter. Better to just keep yourself in shape so you’re able to handle a 9-12 lb gun for the duration of the round.

  21. That photo of the men all standing while one is shooting DOES NOT SHOW A BARREL ON THE MAN’S FOOT!!!

    Now trap shooters only load a few rounds, and then after firing clear the chambers. Yea technically you are putting a body part in front of the barrel (so?? Do people unload their guns and look DOWN THE BARREL???)

    It’s no big deal when dealing with trap shooters (usually) as the gun is supposed to be shown ‘clear’, i.e. empty, but deer, duck, and squirrel hunters, on the other hand, have been known to have a toe missing now and then. But that is cause they dick around with the triggers while resting the guns no their feet.

  22. Never seen a shotgun to the foot in my medical career, I have seen a 308 point blank to the foot, smaller hole.
    Seen a few shotgun wounds to hands and shoulders, very messy

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