GUN FITTING: WHAT IT IS, WHAT IT ISN'T , AND THE GREAT DIVIDENDS IT CAN PAY!
Here at FSS, Elizabeth and I help lots of students with their gun fit. It is always interesting, and as a general rule, very satisfying to us as instructors and fitters. It is, however, frequently not what the student expects.
Often it is a simple tweak that comes about during their shooting lesson. We see that we could make their gun work better for them with some relatively simple changes. Adjusting their stock height or cast with strips of moleskin, maybe changing their length of pull (LOP) by some simple means, or a change in their pitch by adding washers under the top or bottom of the recoil pad, etc. Sometimes they have adjustable combs or butt stocks, but generally we are making changes in a ‘field expedient’ manner, just to show the small changes make significant differences in the fit and feel of their gun, and then we suggest a gunsmith come behind us and make the changes permanent. Generally they are AMAZED at how simple it all is.
Then there are custom fitted stocks, built from the ground up specifically for a shooter, their style of shooting and their shooting needs . This is where, frequently, students have a different notion of what is involved in ‘being fitted’ for these stocks. They think that they will be ‘measured up’, kind of akin to being measured by a tailor for a new suit. While your body shape and size has quite a bit to do with the dimensions you would need in a shotgun stock, how you handle the gun as a huge impact on your ‘fit’ as well. This issue is further compounded if the shooter is inconsistent in how they handle the gun. If they mount the gun differently shot to shot, which mount does the fitter adjust the gun for? Needless to say, these are the times we have to work with the student on their technique first, to get them handling the gun correctly, and in a consistent manor. Often, the shooter’s gun fits much better after they clean up their gun handling. Saves money and breaks more targets! Yaaayyyy! Who doesn't like that?
We have a full fitting facility here at the Fennell Shooting School. We work on gun fit with our students daily as part of their lessons. We are also planning on hosting Jim Greenwood here in South Carolina a couple of times a year to offer his advance fitting with pattern stocks. Using data we observe from the pattern plate, shooting clays, and at times the try gun, our students go home with a great new confidence in their gun fit, and a pattern stock to use until they are certain the fit is perfect for them! Let us know when you want us to make your job easier on the course!
Will and Elizabeth Fennell
*A ‘Try gun’ is a shotgun with a stock that is capable of adjusting for length, cast, height, grip shape, pitch, etc. Fitters can use this tool to fit a gun to a student, then measure the results to determine the student’s needs. Though try guns are very effective, the student must also be observed shooting to see how they handle a gun and to their style of shooting.