“How do shooters deal with chronic shoulder pain due to recoil? I don’t have time for rehab or surgery, and I am at that point in my life that it’s causing me problems.”
Recoil can be an issue for some shooters. It is unfortunate that you have waited so long to address the issue. Because recoil issues can cause other shooting flaws and habits to surface, I always encourage students to immediately address recoil issues. Assuming that you are a sporting clays competitor, here are a few ways to address recoil issues:
1) Reduce the load you are using. If you are using a 1 1/8-ounce load, you may want to switch to a 1-ounce load.
2) Reduce the speed of the shell you shoot. With all other shell specs being equal, a faster-speed shell means more powder and more recoil. I find that 1,250 fps in a 1-ounce shell is more than adequate, and if you are particularly sensitive to recoil, you might want to try a shell that is even slower, say a 1,200 fps.
3) Verify gun fit (length of pull and pitch). A shotgun that is too long and/or has improper pitch or drop at heel can cause excessive felt recoil.
4) Change shotguns or add weight to your existing shotgun. With all other factors being equal, some shotguns inherently deliver more felt recoil than others. I won’t name any specific brands, but know that the weight, weight distribution and the internal structure of the barrel tube of a shotgun can cause some shotgun brands and models to kick a bit more than others. You also might want to consider adding weight to reduce recoil, but obviously, there is a trade-off to doing this, as it puts more muscle strain on the shoulders.
5) Have an expert lengthen the forcing cones of your shotgun, as this can reduce felt recoil. I am not a believer in porting, so I would not recommend this except as a last resort.
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.