Why Gun Fit Matters

by Chris McCotter

  Geometry and physics are in EVERYTHING and every aspect of our lives. You can either embrace and go on successfully or try to fight it and struggle to be mediocre. Now, add in anatomy to the equation and gun fit not only matters, but it’s also a crucial component of shooting.

  The warmer weather and longer days are bringing families and friends to the clay courses. There are more and more youth and women getting into the sport. Women will naturally seek instruction and assistance with all of the aspects of the game. This is quite often the one and only shot you must create a pleasurable and comfortable experience for the new shooter. 

  Too many times a woman has stood in front of me and told me a dreadful story about a boyfriend or husband that has put a heavy 12ga something or other in their hands. To add insult to injury the poor unsuspecting shooter is given a load that is guaranteed to rattle teeth. 

  If you have been this “helpful” boyfriend or husband, please don’t do that ever again. It’s mean and it hurts, and you are scaring the hell out of the person in front of you. Instead, grab a lighter and softer recoiling 20ga for that new shooter. Be sure the shells are light loads and make the experience a good one and encouraging to the shooter. 

  When selecting a gun for a woman or youth, please refrain from setting them up with a youth model right off the bat. Chances are they won’t be able to use it because it will be too short. When selecting a gun for them, look more towards a gas autoloader, especially if they may be recoil sensitive. Grab the lightest loads the gun will cycle. Now, time to figure out LOP (length of pull), DAC (drop at comb), and all the other nuances of gun fit. 

  When putting a gun up to the shoulder, it should fit into the pocket below the clavicle and inside the shoulder bone itself. Make sure the buttstock is up high enough in the pocket or the shooter will be forced to hunch down to get their cheek on the gun. 

  The shooter should turn their head a few degrees towards the comb (top of the stock) and move their head forward and down, sealing their cheek onto the comb. The comb should come up under the zygomatic bone and their nose should be just inside the stock. This will ensure their eye (iris) is in the middle of the rib and hopefully sitting flush. See if you can put two fingers between the tip of their nose and the start of the comb.

  If the gun is getting caught up under the armpit, it’s because the person is shooting from a very upright position. Have them lean forward and avoid tucking the stock under the arm. 

  When the stock is too long or too short, it’s going to skew the sight picture, a lot! Too short can even cause the shooter to accidentally pop themselves in the nose on the recoil. I’m always amazed at how many shooters have never had their shotgun fitted to them. Once they have gone through a fitting, they are elated at the increase in their hitting percentage. All because now, they can shoot where they are looking. 

  Considering a new gun purchase? Mark your calendar for Saturday, May 6th. The Syren, Caesar Guerini, Farbarm demo day is at Old Forge Sporting Clays from 10a to 1p. It’s only $40pp and includes complimentary coaching, 25 clays, 25 shells, raffle prizes and full use of all demo guns! Be sure to register at VaShootingSports.com/events.

Kate Ahnstrom, owner of Virginia Shooting Sports is a certified, professional instructor of the Paragon School of Sporting, pro staff Syren/Caesar Guerini, resident pro Orapax Hunting Preserve, Artemis ambassador for Va, and field staff member of the Sisterhood of the Outdoors. Her tireless dedication to her students’ success is obvious in each and every lesson.

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