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Article 7 – 2013

person aiming shotgun at target range

Question: I am buying a cheap sporting shotgun just to use shooting in the field and maybe the occasional clay or two on the farm. I was told I need to get it fitted to me if I am going to hit any targets. How important is it to get a proper fit and what things do I need to adjust to do this?

Bruce McLaird, Geelong VIC


Answer: Bruce how important is it to have your shoes fit correctly? You can wear boots that are a size to large or small, but they wont be as comfortable as the right size. Shotguns are the same. The better they fit the more productive you will be with them.

Probably the best place to start is the stock length of the shotgun (referred to as length of pull). The length will affect all the other variables in your gun mount. If I make the assumption that you are of an average height, build and weight for a male let me go through so very typical dimensions for a field type shotgun. Let me stress these are basic dimensions. I cannot fit a shotgun to anyone via email. A normal length is measured from the mid point of the trigger to the top of the recoil pad and then the bottom. A normal length is approximately 370mm to the top and 375mm to the bottom. The difference of 5mm from top to bottom should give enough “pitch” in the stock to sit it comfortably on a typical males shoulder/breast bone.

The height of your gun is measured by running a straight edge over the top of the barrels so it protrudes over the top of your stock. The front of the comb should be around 37mm below the overhanging ruler and the back of a comb on a typical field shotgun will be another 20mm lower at around 57mm. The difference in height between the front and the back of the comb is called the “drop”.

“Cast” is the direction the shotgun stocks bends from the mechanism towards the shoulder you are shooting from. If you are right handed the term used is cast off and for a left-hander it is cast on. Cast is measured by running a dead straight line through the top of the barrel of the gun straight through to the end of the shotguns stock. Imagine looking at the gun suspended on a table looking down from above. The cast at the front of the stocks comb will normally be around 3mm, at the back of the comb 6mm and by turning the stock upside down and looking at the toe of the recoil pad this measurement will normally be a minimum of 12mm off the dead centre mid section of the shotgun.

Length, pitch, height, drop and cast and the major elements of gun fit. They are very personal and will vary from person to person just like your shoes and clothes. Balance of the shotgun is the only other major issue you may like to play with. Most shotguns will be balanced just marginally forward of the centre hinge pin where the mechanism joins the barrels. Weight can be added to or taken out of the stock of the shotgun to help achieve this.

I hope these generic measurements help you on the road to comfortably and accurately using your shotgun.

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