Shotgun Fit

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Shotgun Fit

Postby Kiger2 » Thu Dec 14, 2017 12:44 am

Since Ryan hijacked his own post, I thought it might be a good time to have a discussion about shotgun fit and wingshooting in general and things we can do to improve both. For mostly new shooters.

First off, Im not an expert shooter. I have good days and bad days. My best day on chukars was 9for 9. Now are limit is eight, but I had to shoot one twice. My worst day (s) are over 30 rounds fired for no limit. I love to shoot, but 30 rounds with no limit, thats frustrating.

A little history.

While i didn't remember it until years later, when i was a kid and old enough to go out and shoot squirrels and jays so they didn't eat all of the filbert crop with the model 12. My Dad took me out in the field and had me shoot at a gopher mound from 20 yards or so. We then went into the barn and he took the stock off. The model 12 has a steel extension that the stock bolts onto. My dad put the extension in the vise and he BENT it. He then sanded the stock so it fit the reciever and we out and shot it again.

What he did was change the drop in the stock so that when I mounted the gun and fired I hit the gopher mound. Now my Dad was not wealthy. He grew up poor during the depression. His mother cleaned and skinned whatever him and his twin brother shot. I suspect that they learned about fit from my grandfather and perhaps through him, his grandfather. My grandfather had a double blackpowder 12 ga. I have the gun and it is clear that the stock was made to fit "someone". I have no idea who, but it fits me and is obviously made with some cast and drop. to fit "someone" It was made sometime in the later 1800's. So for all you new shooters, they knew in the late 1800s if not sooner, that a gun needed to be fit properly to shoot well.

So move forward to my early years hunting. I really tended to shoot pretty well. Along came 1990 and I got an berretta O/U 20 ga when I sold my first litter. Really every serious chukar hunter shoots an O/U right??? Well I shot terrible. I couldn't hit hardly anything. this was when we had LOTS of chukars. My friend after multiple hunts kept telling to get rid of the gun. I kept telling him it wasn't the gun. I had forgotten about my dads lesson.

This was the early days of the internet, but I started researching and found a short book by a guy named Rollin Oswald about stock fitting. I could not hit a clay going straight away with this gun. So I followed Rollins book and checked my gun on a pattern plate. It was shooting 6 to 8 inches left and high, at 16 yards. at 30 yards the only thing that would hit the bird was the very edge of the pattern.

I first stared to correct by bending the stock. Put heat lamp on it and bent it. That helped but it pounded my face.
So next I bought a "New American" stock from Weings.the dimensions of this stock match what they make for "most" people.

It was a great improvement. I started crushing clays that were going away. but I couldnt hit a crosser to save my life.
So I broke down and got a lesson. One of the top instructors in the country at the time.

I showed at the range and he checked my gun fit. He had me mount the gun as he stood to the side. He said the stock was too long. (after reading rollins book , I knew it was too long but I was afraid to cut it. ) He tried several of his guns from the shop but none fit me. I finally said let me take the gun home and cut an inch off the stock. So thats what I did. Went back the next week and he said OK mount the gun. He was standing in front of me and lined up his eye while looking down the barrel at my eye. He said I was goos to go.

Now I have to tell you that guy could see the shot string. We start with a couple of away birds and i break them. He says Ok. We are on the Skeet range and we go to do some crossers. I say pull , he says , you are behind. I say pull and he says you are low and behind. This goes on for many birds. He finally takes the gun and says you just need to let your left hand put the gun in front. He shoots two birds in a row with the gun on his hip, not mounted at all. He is looking at the bird and letting his handstand eyes do the work.My first session was bad, so bad he didn't charge me for it. I came back the next week and he got me dialed in. Maybe 30% broken the first week, over 80% the second. Over 90% of the last 50.

So fit is extremely important. But so are fundamentals.

There is far more information available than I want to provide here. Just spend some time with Rollins book or Gil Ash at OSP.

But to help the newer shooters.
Your eye, is the rear sight on a shotgun.Your eye and brain will align the front of the barrel with where it thinks it should point to hit the bird.
The issue is this. If our eye is not aligned correctly, the shot string will not go where it needs to be.

Most right handed shooters need "cast off" on their stocks. That means that the comb of the stock should be moved away fronm the cheek because that will cause the eye to be moved to the right and centered over the barrel.

Most shooters will need more drop than a typical off the shelf gun. Drop in the stock determines how high or low the gun shoots compared to where you are looking.

A lot of new guns have adjustable shims. Really a good idea. Not perfect but better than what the "average " stock dimensions do off the shelf. But you do need to check your fit.

So I suggested to Ryan that he do two things. Check out Ollin Roswaids Book and check out Optimum shooting performance for some drills you can do at home to help train to shoot better.
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Re: Shotgun Fit

Postby ryanr » Thu Dec 14, 2017 10:58 pm

I have no idea what you're even talking about.
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Re: Shotgun Fit

Postby RowdyGSP » Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:26 pm

ryanr wrote:I have no idea what you're even talking about.


He likes to hear himself talk... I stopped reading after the first few sentences.
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Re: Shotgun Fit

Postby stubblejumper » Fri Dec 15, 2017 3:06 pm

It actually is true that many people are using shotguns that don't fit them, which is a problem in itself, but many people try to aim a shotgun like a rifle, which is even worse. For wingshooting, the shooter should be concentrating on the target, not on the beads. I actually don't even notice the beads when wingshooting.
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Re: Shotgun Fit

Postby mtlhdr » Fri Dec 15, 2017 5:36 pm

I've be struggling with my shooting this season. I had my gun what I would call semi- fit (pitch and drop) and its not quite right. I need some time with a pattern board and practice, practice, practice. I'm thinking I also need to take my gun back and get it adjusted as well. My guess is I'm missing high but the board should show me what's up. Frustrating...
Last edited by mtlhdr on Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Shotgun Fit

Postby AverageGuy » Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:17 pm

Fit, gun mount, keen focus on the bird and swing are all critical. But something that gets little mention but affects my shooting the most is fatigue. When I get tired my gun mount and focus on the bird suffers. The better shape I am in the better I shoot. My bad days consistently come on the last day of a road trip when I am beat and frankly a little less keen to kill some birds, and get to gawking at the birds head up vs leaning into my shot.
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Re: Shotgun Fit

Postby orhunter » Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:43 pm

To me, a huntin' gun mount should not involve any body adjustments. Leaning into the gun is sometimes called crawling the stock and I don't want to do that. Head straight up, stock hits my shoulder and cheek simultaneously with my eye centered over the barrel. Virtually every gun I shoulder that doesn't fit, my eye looks down the left side of the rib. I shoot right handed.
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Re: Shotgun Fit

Postby AverageGuy » Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:17 pm

Yea my issue is when I am tired I can fail to get my gun all the way up to face and in the pocket of my shoulder. My brain and my body start working slower is how it feels.

Wednesday Spud and I spent 3 hours prowling around in 6 to 8 feet tall sorghum cane feed that never got baled or grazed. About half the cane was blown over requiring alot of effort to push my legs through it while the still standing tall cane slapped me in the face, arms and elsewhere. And then there was the 30 MPH wind. Try getting on a single quail when a covey flushes, you get no early warning from your ears when they do, and everything in front of your face is waving wildly in the wind. Spud's ability to recover cripples was a key factor that day.
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Re: Shotgun Fit

Postby Coveyrise64 » Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:25 pm

It was easier to copy the text as an image than to re-type so click on the picture below to see a better image. I think it is more important to improve mechanics before making any adjustments to the shotgun stock for fit. I'll explain more in another post.

From the book 'Stock Fitter's Bible'......
Scan2 (780x1024).jpg

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Re: Shotgun Fit

Postby Coveyrise64 » Sat Dec 16, 2017 12:29 am

Once consistent gun mount mechanics have been achieved it is time to think about proper fit. Kiger pointed out that for a shotgun the eyes are the rear sight. Because of that relationship and being on target with maximum pellets in the kill zone the position of the eye on the gunstock then becomes a primary focus of proper gun fit. To me there are two main components of gun fit that are the easiet to address.

LOP

The length of pull (LOP) is the measured distance from the middle of the trigger to the middle of the butt stock. By changing the LOP you can effectivly move the point of impact up or down on your target. I sure wouldn’t go sanding on the stock to increase the amount of drop when it would easier to add a little length.

Decreasing the LOP moves the location your cheek contacts the comb of the stock forward. Because the distance between the sight plan and the comb of the stock decreases as the head moves forward on the stock the eye is placed above the correct sight plane of the shotgun. As seen in illustration a) this moves the point of impact above the target.

Increasing the LOP moves the location your cheek contacts the comb of the stock rearward. Because the distance between the sight plan and the comb of the stock increases as the head moves rearward on the stock the eye is placed below the correct sight plane of the shotgun. As seen in illustration b) this moves the point of impact below the target.

click image to enlarge....
head movement6 (841x1024).jpg

Cast

The purpose of cast is to aid in the horizontal alignment of the eye with the rib without needing to cant (rotate) the gun or tilt and turn the head. For a right handed shooter cast moves the horizontal alignment of the sight plane to the right. For a left handed shooter cast moves the horizontal alignment of the sight plane to the left. Cast isn’t as easy to correct as LOP. Some synthetic stocks have shims that can be used to add cast but wooden stocks will have to be bent by a competent gunsmith.

I'll add more about LOP in another post.

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Re: Shotgun Fit

Postby woodboro » Mon Dec 18, 2017 10:44 am

Kiger2 has viable points ...
The easiest to figure out if you know how to shoot a shot gun is by looking at your stance...
If as a rifle shooter your opposite shoulder is pointing at your target , you have an incorrect swing.
Once your stance is correct then your gun fit is everything in my book.
It cost me about $500 to change an English gun to make it fit me.
All the while this was being done , I thought the gun smith was stealing my money.
Well lets say I was quite wrong once I got out hunting , and it seemed I could never miss :lol:

I am right handed , but learned to shoot both eyes open , and my left eye is dominant ...
That means I had to learn to shoot left handed.
When I buy a gun , I always look at cast , length of pull etc.. to make sure it is even worth buying the gun , otherwise the
cost of a gun and fit increase costs quite significantly before you even shoot the gun correctly.
I recently bought JP Sauer , and had $2500 in modifications to the gun , but this 120 year old gun , will out surpass me well after I am 6 feet under.
I was fortunate When learned to shoot left handed , joining a skeet league , the club had some outstanding shooters that
assisted me along with my gunsmith.
This 2018 season , I will be shooting a 300 Win mag rifle... I will be taking lessons in regards to shooting it correctly , so my autumn hunt is successful.
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Re: Shotgun Fit

Postby Coveyrise64 » Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:52 pm

Again, I think proper mechanics is paramount to proper fit and this includes foot position. Proper LOP is a dimension of approx. 1.0 to 1.5 inches from the base of the thumb to the nose with the gun mounted in the proper position. It is easy to see how stance/shoulder position can influence the gun position and thus the proper LOP dimension.

Stance or foot position has a direct correlation to LOP and proper gun proper fit. The picture is extreme as far as foot position but it is easier to understand the shoulder position and LOP relationship.

foot position-LOP (1024x575).jpg

Stance “a” requires the shortest LOP and the greatest amount of cast. The distance between the shoulder pocket and the cheek is greater when using stance “a”.

Stance “b” requires the longest LOP and the least amount of cast. Reduced cast is required because the line from the shoulder pocket to the front bead passes nearer the eye using stance (b) and requires a reduced amount of cast.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the picture below, position "a" represents the typical skeet shooter or sporting clays stance. This position is ideal for a target shooting set-up not likely one a hunter would use in the field. Position "b" is closer to what I would probably use or something in between "a" and "b". I would use either of these two foot positions to determine proper LOP.

foot position-3 (1024x658).jpg


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

LOP has a big effect on Point of Impact (POI) and has a direct relationship to the comb height. For every 1/4" of movement in LOP (shorter or longer) the face (cheek) position changes on the comb 1" (forward if LOP is shorter or toward the rear if LOP is longer). Because the comb is sloped toward the heel, as the face location moves on the stock with the changes in LOP the
distance of the eye position to the proper line of sight increases or decreases with the LOP respectively.

Below it is easy to see how a higher comb height (decreases the distance of the eye to the line of sight) can affect the eye position and the relationship to the line of sight. If the comb height (or shorter LOP) increases 1/8" the POI at 40 yds is 4.1" high. There was no reference to a lower comb height (or longer LOP) but it would lower the POI.

CombAdjustment1 (1024x576).jpg

If the proper stance and LOP have been established and the POI is still not on target then a higher or lower of comb height can be used to raise or lower the POI.

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Re: Shotgun Fit

Postby orhunter » Wed Dec 20, 2017 5:17 pm

I always have perfect form when Chukar hunting.....
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Re: Shotgun Fit

Postby woodboro » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:12 pm

In the picture below, position "a" represents the typical skeet shooter or sporting clays stance. This position is ideal for a target shooting set-up not likely one a hunter would use in the field. Position "b" is closer to what I would probably use or something in between "a" and "b". I would use either of these two foot positions to determine proper LOP.


foot position-3 (1024x658).jpg

I absolutely disagree with this opinion.
IN THE ABOVE STANCE YOU CAN EASILY SWING A GUN 180 DEGREE'S.
If you grouse or woodcock in heavy cover this stance proves its worth in the game bag.
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Re: Shotgun Fit

Postby Coveyrise64 » Fri Dec 22, 2017 11:01 am

woodboro wrote:In the picture below, position "a" represents the typical skeet shooter or sporting clays stance. This position is ideal for a target shooting set-up not likely one a hunter would use in the field. Position "b" is closer to what I would probably use or something in between "a" and "b". I would use either of these two foot positions to determine proper LOP.

I absolutely disagree with this opinion.
IN THE ABOVE STANCE YOU CAN EASILY SWING A GUN 180 DEGREE'S.
If you grouse or woodcock in heavy cover this stance proves its worth in the game bag.


No grouse but I have shot a few woodcock. Not sure of your definition of heavy cover but along the river bottoms just maneuvering through the saplings to the dog on point was difficult, setting my feet (mid-stride) at the flush to any resemblance of an ideal shooting position was a challenge, and a 180 degree swing was out of the question.

The type of cover could be apples and oranges but in any given shooting situation it appears as if there are at least two of you here with perfect form.

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VC TJ's Miss Filson MH, UTI R.I.P. 5/13/03-10/15/14

Thunderhead's All Jacked Up R.I.P. "My Buddy" 9/9/09-1/27/14

"I'd rather train for perfection than fix the problems of mediocrity" ~ Me

"There are always going to be those who prefer to freeze in the dark rather than put forth the effort to light a fire." ~ Lvrdg07
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