The Technoid Takes Stock…..
Many shooters consider a gun fitting session to be an extravagant luxury, something akin to gold inlays and such. ‘Taint so. If your gun does not fit, it is your shooting ability, not the shot, that goes down the tubes. If you can afford the time and money, have one of our local pros give you a fitting and then a lesson. This is probably a pretty good investment and has the added benefit of giving you someone to blame if your scores do not immediately double.
If you are the self-reliant type and prefer to do it yourself, follow along. The first step will be to check your stock length. After the correct length is ascertained, the second step will be to examine stock height and cast.
Do not measure correct stock length with that old gun store owner’s trick of seeing if the butt nestles comfortably in the crook of your arm. That only tells you that you have an arm, that there is a crook somewhere around and that you are the butt. Simply raise the gun to your face in normal shooting posture and measure the distance between your shooting glasses and the rear of nearest part of your right hand, usually about an inch or so below the first joint of the thumb. If this measurement is between 1″ and 2″ you are in the ball park. Personal preference is important here. Longer stocks are harder to mount, but produce less felt recoil.
It is incorrect that long stocks make you shoot high. It is exactly the opposite. The longer the stock, the further back on it you place your cheek. Since stocks (except Monte Carlos) slope down to the rear, it stands to reason that the further back you put your cheek, the lower your eye will be in relation to the barrel and the lower you will shoot.
Modest length adjustment is easy. Just temporarily screw on a shorter or longer recoil pad, or insert some shims between the pad and butt. This will be enough to get you to Step Two.
The second step (adjusting height and cast) governs where the shot actually impacts. The best way to check point of impact is not “whipping your gun to your shoulder and firing several times” at pattern paper. As junior Technoids, please be a bit more scientific and use the Approved Method. It is ever so much more delightfully complicated.
The idea is not just to shoot at the paper, but to try to duplicate the different ways that you normally mount and fire. The Approved Method is to mark a central aiming point on your patterning plate or paper, stand off thirty yards and install your full choke. Start with your gun butt under your armpit and your muzzle on the lower edge of the plate. Raise the gun, swinging upwards, and fire just as you pass through the aiming point. Next, starting with your muzzle at the top edge of the plate, swing downwards and fire at the same aiming point. Do not change paper or repaint. You want to overlay your shots. Repeat left to right and right to left. Now you will have fired four times at the mark and should have clear evidence of where the gun is shooting. You may want to repeat the procedure several times for reliability. If everything is dead on or just a little high, stop here and treat yourself to a celebratory quaff at the local watering hole. Much of your gun fitting work is over.
A trap shooter may recommend that you set your gun to impact 2/3 of a pattern high. That’s what a trap shooter would want. But over half of the sporting targets you will be shooting are falling, not rising like trap birds. Many sporting shooters like a gun that is “dead on”, but here the Technoid agrees and likes to see a little rib. It is up to you.
If your gun impacts too high or to the left, assuming that you are right handed, proceed directly to your local stock bender. Make sure to tell him how far off center you are. If your gun shoots low or to the right, build the stock up higher or build out the left side with duct tape until point of impact is correct. You may now want to shoot some clays to double check the fit. Mark the spot on the tape where you put your cheek and then take it to the stock bender.
When you get the stock back from the bender, return to the patterning board and do it all over again to see if it came out right. If not, return to your new best friend the stock bender and do it yet again.
Naturally, the best way to achieve perfect stock fit is with the Technoid’s Terrific Tubular Toy, a gas gun. As has been mentioned here before, the simple mating between the gas gun’s receiver and the head of the stock allows shimming which can move the stock in any direction until absolutely, completely perfect stock fit is obtained. You can do it yourself in a minute or two with a screw driver and a few bits of plastic. You can make a little change, shoot it for a while, and then make another change or go back to where you started. Beretta and Benelli even come with shims included for this purpose. This is by far the best way of doing things, but it does require that 99% of you switch guns. You cannot do it with an over and under. They must be bent. Sorry about that.