Reasonable Gun Fit
I’d like your opinion on a “reasonable gun fit,” what it is and what it lacks, and whether or not anything more than that is required for most shooters.
A shooter’s performance on the sporting clays course depends greatly on gun fit; however, the tolerances are much more forgiving for a beginner trying to break into the 60s versus an experienced shooter trying to break into the 90s. While the dimensions of a shotgun can be quite involved, there are four primary dimensions that we gun fitters evaluate: 1) cast, or “bend,” of the back stock; 2) drop at comb, or distance between the top of the comb and the horizontal plane of the rib; 3) length of pull, or distance between the front face of the trigger and the back of the butt pad; and 4) pitch, the angle of the back of the butt pad as it contacts the shooter’s shoulder.
As an instructor and fitter, my standard for “proper fit” for a beginner or novice student is much more liberal than for the experienced shooter. Because the beginning shooter typically has a very inconsistent mount, achieving an exact fit is impossible, and investing in a custom stock at this stage is usually a waste of money.
In the case of a novice shooter, my goal is for the shooter to be comfortable (appropriate length of pull) and to have good visibility of the target over the rib (correct drop at comb so the shooter can see the target over the rib). If the shooter can’t see the target, he can’t hit it, and if he’s not comfortable (length of pull is too long, for example) then he will just end up bruised and won’t have much fun. As the shooter matures and his mount becomes more consistent, cast, pitch, grip length, palm swell, grip angle and other dimensions become increasingly important. When a shooter’s mount is consistent, it may be time to think about a custom stock. Until then, if the shooter can mount the shotgun comfortably and has good visibility of the target over the rib, that is considered a “reasonably good fit.”
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.