National Skeet Shooting Association
National Skeet Shooting Association



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Gun Fit Right Off the Rack

First-time shotgun buyers should be aware that gun fit is one of the most important elements of successful shotgun shooting. Volumes have been written to help determine what stock dimensions are best for you, and dozens of gunsmiths are readily available to customize your gun so it fits like a tailored Armani suit.

I don’t know about you, but when searching for my first gun, it was for something off the rack, fairly inexpensive, but with enough basic features to do the intended job. I wasn’t aware of the importance of gun fit, so after the purchase, it wasn’t until I shot a few rounds at the range that I realized alterations of some kind would have to be made if I were to confidently use the gun.

Had I been aware of a couple of simple tests, easily performed when mounting the gun in the store, I could have saved myself the disappointment and aggravation of purchasing a gun that did not fit correctly, not to mention the cost to correct it.

First, let me tell you a little about myself. When making a purchase, I try to research the item and learn as much as I can about the product. I’m not one who likes to delve into the specifics of every aspect of the item; I just want to make sure that what I’m buying will do the job for which it is intended. If I find something that fits this criterion: is visually appealing and within my price range, I’ll buy it. In my case however, I was unaware of how important stock fit is, and that there’s a relatively easy way of checking it, right off the shelf.

Let’s assume you’re a right-handed shooter. Mount the gun by bringing the stock up to your cheek and pull the gun into your shoulder. You should be able to place your face comfortably about an inch and a half to two inches behind the thumb of your right hand. Most skeet and sporting guns have a front and middle bead on the rib of the barrel. If the center bead stacks behind the front bead in what looks like a figure eight and no rib is visible looking down the length of the barrel, chances are this gun will fit you well enough to shoot right out of the box. If you have a dominant left eye make sure you close it when doing this.

Many gun manufacturers are now including components with their guns that make it possible for you to adjust the stock drop and cast dimensions, as well as length of pull. You may want to ask about this when making your selection.

The bottom line is, you don’t have to spend a fortune to find a gun you’ll enjoy using to shoot your favorite sport. It’s probably sitting on a gun shop rack right now.

By Barry Greenberg