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Shot Guns - Gunfit - By Peter Harris


A good gunfit is the basic fundamental to good shooting.

So what can we do about achieving a good fit?
Well, for most of us the purchase of a gun represents a considerable expense, not to be taken lightly.


A good gunfit is the basic fundamental to good shooting.

In the words of the late Chris Craddock one of England's finest coaches.
"If a gun does not fit, a shooter stands no chance of being anything other than a mediocre shot"

So what can we do about achieving a good fit?
Well, for most of us the purchase of a gun represents a considerable expense, not to be taken lightly.
I would therefore recommend that you only purchase from a good friend or a reputable gunshop with a reputation for good customer relations and good service.
Someone who has the knowledge to provide a basic gun fitting and advice before and during your purchase. Remember a gunsmith repairs guns, a friend wants to sell a gun, and a gun salesman sells guns and relies upon sales and commission. Buyer Beware. Before considering a specialist gunfit which will involve considerable cost to
do correctly, we must be able to mount the gun consistently into the correct and same place
in the shoulder pocket each and every time. When we can consistently mount the gun correctly and we are generally happy with our purchase we may now consider a customised personalised gunfitting session.

What will this involve?
The fitter will measure and check the following dimensions.
Stock length (length from trigger to centre of Butt)
Comb height (at point where cheek touches)
Cast (at face, Butt toe &heel)
Pitch ( very often overlooked, misunderstood and neglected)
Cant ( Lots of people do it and don't know they do)

The Try Gun

"The Try Gun"

Length of Pull
I will say here and now putting the butt in the crook of your elbow and seeing if your index finger reaches the trigger is a waste of time. First stand correctly as you
would when shooting, this can be different for Skeet, Sporting or Trap, slim people & stout people, Which are you? Take up your correct comfortable and usual shooting
stance, now mount the gun to your face / shoulder (note: Lift the gun smoothly and bring to your face/ shoulder in a single smooth movement using both hands in unison)


DO NOT Drop your face to the comb. Get someone to measure from base of your thumb to your nose; ideally this will be in the region of 1/2" to 1". Too short and the effects of recoil can cause your thumb to damage your nose upon firing the gun and also for the trigger guard to bruise the second finger of the trigger hand. Too long can result in the Butt snagging on your shoulder as you try to mount onto a high overhead shot (try a few practice swings at imaginary overhead birds) Mind
the lights!). Too long requires the stock shortening. Too short requires a stock extension.

Comb height (Drop at Comb)
This is I believe the most important dimension. Depending upon the rib configuration and eye alignment, remember your eye is your rear sight. Many people do not realise
that it is the angle between the barrel axis and the line of sight your eye makes through the muzzle, determines the vertical position of the shot pattern relative to your line of sight. If the rib is angled down towards the muzzle you do not need to raise your eye as much above the rib to raise the point of impact.
It is therefore extremely important that once you have set the stock length to the correct dimension you should shoot a few patterns at the pattern plate to determine where the gun shoots, to enable you to set the comb height correctly. Too high a comb will position the eye high and probably result in patterning high, this will need the comb lowering (shaving off wood). Patterning low, or even worse if your eye cannot see down the rib and all you can see is the back of the receiver/ action will require
the comb lifting or building up with temporary material (cardboard, carpet, foam).

Cast
Difficult to adjust.
This is the amount that the stock (at comb, heel & toe) is to the right (cast off) or left (cast on) of the bore centre line.
To determine if you require cast setting into the stock, or indeed if you already have too much or not enough.

With the length of pull correctly set and comb height correctly set, mount the gun with your eyes closed. Open your eyes. Are the beads correctly aligned on the rib? Do you feel that you are looking down one side of the rib or the other?

If the answer is yes or you have to move your head slightly to align you will need to have a cast alteration. A left handed person has the stock 'cast on' and a right handed person has the stock 'cast off'.

Pitch
Pitch is the angle that the Butt makes with the bore centre line. 90 degrees to the bore axis is Zero Pitch If we place the gun on its Butt pad with the barrels against a vertical surface if the barrels lean away from the vertical it is known as Positive Pitch
Note: Beretta users who suffer from Cheek slap may benefit by altering Pitch ( try putting temporary spacers between the Butt pad at the Heel )

Cant
Cant is the twisting of the gun when mounting, try mounting the gun with the eyes closed, open them and check alignment of the rib to bead or if you have them mid & front bead. Get a friend to observe by looking from the muzzle end you may need to alter the cast at the toe. The gun when correctly mounted should sit comfortably in contact with the chest /shoulder pocket, we do not want the toe of the butt sticking into our chest causing bruising or injury.

If you are particularly long necked and you find that when mounted the majority of the Butt pad is above the shoulder you may well consider a device such as the 'Jones Adjustable Butt Pad' mounting bracket.
Also you may find that your forehand does not sit comfortably on or around a beavertail fore end you may consider having your grip custom altered. Also your trigger hand may not sit comfortably on the hand of the stock, the nose of the comb may dig into the base of the thumb, the radius of the grip may be too open causing cramp in the wrist of your hand, and all of these things can be noted and addressed by a competent gun fitter.

Mount & Fit are inseparable.
A well fitted gun is of no benefit if the shooter does not mount it correctly. A shooter with an excellent gun mount will be hampered by an ill-fitting gun.
People ask me what a good sight picture is?
That is difficult to answer as we all have individual preferences, but try this, mount your gun and then place a £1 coin on top of the rib at the breech end, if you can still
see the bead you are not too far out. Trap shooters may prefer to see a little more rib to assist in addressing rising targets.

By Peter Harris – Instructor and expert on all things technical in the world of shooting.


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