I’m at the point in my shooting that I really want to improve. What should I do first: get instruction or get a gun fitting?
Both! A good instructor should be able to check basic gun fit and start you on a path of improvement in your shooting proficiency. While there is a big difference between the gun fitting expertise of the average instructor and that of a professional gun fitter, NSCA certified instructors are taught to evaluate basic gun fit and how to make modifications to a shooter’s shotgun when practical.
Visibility and comfort are the two most important aspects of gun fit. If a shooter has a good “basic gun fit,” this means that the shooter has good vertical alignment with the eye positioned well over the top of the rib so that the shooter is able to clearly see the target over the gun when the gun is fully mounted. It also means that there is generally good horizontal or lateral alignment with the eye roughly centered over the rib. A good basic fit also includes proper length of pull, the straight-line measurement from the front face of the trigger to the butt of the shotgun.
Most off-the-shelf shotguns are designed to fit the average male shooter with an average build: 5 feet 10 inches tall, wears a size 40 suit and weighs 160 to 180 pounds. If you are smaller or larger in build, you might need to have your stock modified to achieve a proper fit. If length of pull is appropriate for you, the tip of your nose should be about 1 to 1 1/2 inches from the base knuckle of your trigger-hand thumb when you are fully and properly mounted to the shotgun.
These are very general guidelines. For more on gun fit, watch bit.ly/DC-GunFit.
Good instruction is critical to steady improvement in your proficiency, but a good instructor will also be able to evaluate the basic fit of your shotgun at the beginning of a lesson to make sure the gun is shooting where you’re looking.
Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it, too?
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.