How many times have you worn a pair of shoes that looked great but after an hour you were sorry you ever bought them? Or a pair of earrings that were way too heavy? Or a pair of jeans that just didn’t feel right? I can sum it up for you in two words…size matters! We can say it doesn’t but it really does! Such is the case in finding a great fitting shotgun straight off the shelf! The length of pull is probably going to be too long, the pitch might need to be adjusted, and the drop at comb is likely to be too low. Of course, the weight of the gun is an important consideration though when just mounting and trying a gun in the store, they seem much heavier than when you are actually shooting them. Many times guns are manufactured for the right-handed shooter with a palm swell and a slight cast off. Ah, but there is good news ladies!! There are many options and solutions out there. When purchasing a shotgun, especially a first one, consider the weight of course, but also the adjustability of the gun. Often I suggest a shotgun like a semi-auto Beretta Xcel because they are lighter weight, very adjustable in the cast and drop at comb & easy to have shortened. Adjustable combs and butt plates are wonderful options as well, and if not readily available on the new gun of choice, very easy to have installed on a shotgun, new or one you already have.
Why entertain these options? As you grow as a shooter and your style develops, your gun can grow and change with you. Gaining and losing weight affects gun fit. Shooting style affects gun fit. Having a custom stock is also a great option but in my opinion, should be considered after you have been shooting a while. Now, get yourself a good fitting gun and go have some fun! Whoo- Hoo!! ~Elizabeth Lanier Fennell https://www.fennellshootingschool.com/elizabeth.html
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Mounted vs. Dismounted
When is it a good idea to have the shotgun pre-mounted? There are times this is a fabulous way to shoot.
For new shooters, a pre-mounted gun is almost a no brainer. Having the gun pre-mounted allows the shooter to learn proper stance, how to get the gun in the correct position in the shoulder and on the face, and to learn to focus on the target. As a shooting instructor, I almost always start new shooters with a pre-mounted gun, with the intention of getting them to a lower gun as soon as possible for better target acquisition and peripheral vision. It also takes away the tendency to try and “aim” the shotgun, vs. pointing it.
A pre-mounted gun is also often used when a target needs to be taken sooner vs later, as sometimes presented in true pairs and/or when the speed and trajectory of a target do not allow much time for a solid gun mount. A pre-mounted gun is great for really any fast moving bird. For example, for any fast outgoing bird, a pre-mounted shotgun is a great idea. The targets are getting away quickly and by taking the mount out of the equation, you will get on the target faster, removing the random gun movement that leaves a lot of room for error. Likewise, targets that are fast crossers, quartering away or screaming rabbits are also great candidates for a pre-mounted gun.
The game of trap is almost always shot with a pre-mounted gun. Generally skeet shooters also use a pre-mounted gun.
Seriously, just RELAX when shooting.
Take a deep breath and exhale! This is soooo important both as a beginner at a first lesson and equally so for the well honed shooter and everyone in between! Do we always remember to do this? Of course not! Those of us who have been shooting quite a while know this but sometimes it is still hard to do. To just relax, exhale and feel the tension leave our hands and shoulders.
For new shooters, it is even harder to do. I understand this feeling completely. There are so many things to think about and learn. Safety, break points, foot position, hold points, head on the gun, look at the target, etc. Good instructors will take you through that process with ease when you put less pressure on yourself to perform.
Remember that each step in the learning curve, especially for beginners, is a progression toward learning to shoot better. Try to RELAX! By doing so, and with good instruction, you will learn faster, improve quickly and overall, enjoy the whole shooting experience more. Give yourself time to learn just as more experienced shooters need to allow themselves time to get even better.
Remember what? That’s right, RELAX…first and foremost, this is for fun!
Next week: Gun Mounts