Question from a wann-be technoid.

I have shot dozens of shotguns over the last 20 years,I’m 32. The types of guns are pumps and single shots 12 gauges. ( Mossberg,Wincester,Remington, Stevens, etc.20 inch to 28 inch barrels ). Proficiciency (75% to 98%) on sporting clays, trap,skeet, clay birds). Basically better than average.

I have a Ruger 12 gauge 28 inch over/under. I’m hitting about 25% of what I’m aiming at. I have no idea what I’m doing with the gun. It feels great coming up, hits my shoulder like a dream but I have no idea what the heck is happening. I am going to paper shoot the gun then, paper shoot it stationary to see if it’s the gun or me.

Of course my buddy shot the gun and didn’t miss a target, so it’s got to be me.

Any ideas ?

Dear Wanna-be,

Gun fit. Gun fit. Gun fit. That Ruger doesn’t fit you. I’ve been through self gunfitting before, but it never hurts to repeat. I’ve probably changed my mind or made up some new junk since the last “final word”.

Get some Dr. Scholls moleskin sheets, a roll of masking tape, cardboard and an old recoil pad or two.

First get the length right. Rugers are short. If you are average height or taller, the gun stock may be too short for you. With your eyes closed, mount the gun. See if there is 1-1/2″ to 2″ distance between the lens of your shooting glasses and the rear most part of your trigger hand (base of back of thumb). If not, tape on cardboard or an old recoil pad to get the length you want. On the odd chance that the gun is actually too short, remove the recoil pad and use tape and cardboard to adjust it to the length you need. I often simply unscrew the existing pad, put in a stock spacer or two and put the old pad back on. It looks awful with the raw spacers sticking out, but it works fine if the spacer edges don’t interfere with your gunmount (sporting clays). If they do, just hack them down. Spacers are cheap. Brownells, has every kind of spacer and recoil pad you could possibly want in life. Their catalogue is required reading for all Junior Technoids.

You want to shoot the longest stock you can comfortably handle. Trust the Technoid on this.

Then do height. Rugers are very low at the comb for most people. Ruger doesn’t have a clue how to design a target stock. They build for field shooters who are more often head’s up shooters.

Mount your newly lengthened gun with your eyes closed. Get the amount of cheek pressure that you normally like. Open your eyes. Are you looking slightly over the rib? Personally, I do not like to set up my target guns to look flat down the rib. I like to be seeing about 1/8″ to 3/16″ of the rib. If you put a nickel on the rear of the rib, you still ought to be able to see the base of the front bead, but not too much rib in front of it. If you like to sight flat down the rib, you are on your own. When I look flat down a rib I find that a tiny little bit of extra cheek pressure will cause me to lose the rib and “go blind”. That’s why I hate stepped ribs that encourage a “down the rib” view. I like flat ribs. I also like Twinkies and Jolt Cola, the Breakfast of Technoids. Reasonable men may differ. Add tape, moleskin and junk to the top of the stock until you get the above sight picture.

On the odd chance that the stock is too high as it comes, check your shooting position. Those Ruger stocks shouldn’t be too high for anyone, especially a target shooter who will crawl his stock a little.

Now that you have length and height in the ball park, check for cast. Are you looking down the rib or a bit to the side? If you can see the right side of the rib (the barrels are pointing slightly to the right, not straight ahead), then you should add some tape to the left side of the stock to make it fatter (“cast-on” is the term).This will straighten out your eye alignment. If you see the left side of the rib, cheek a bit harder or get ready to shave wood. I suggest you cheek a bit harder for starters. Ruger stocks seldom have too much cast-on as they come from the factory.

Now you have a perfectly nice Ruger festooned with tape, mole skin, raw spacers and an old recoil pad. Now go test for point of impact. If you can find a pattern plate, use that because it is more convenient than always replacing pattern paper. Either way, use FULL choke so you get a nice easy to see pattern, put a mark in the center of the paper/plate, back off your usual shooting distance, mount the gun in your normal way, and fire. Do it again. Do it again… and again. Find out where the gun is shooting for you. If you are a low gun sporting clays or international skeet shooter, start from the low gun position. Test the gun the way you will actually shoot the gun.

Add tape. Remove tape. Fool around. Get it so your point of impact is where you want it. Buy more moleskin and tape. I like a pattern that is very slightly high of center- say 55% above, 45% below. I’ll settle for 50/50, but never for a pattern that has more below the aiming point than above. If the gun is being set up for ATA trap, you will want it higher

Now go shoot some clay targets with the gun. Make adjustments as necessary. You may want to shoot the gun all swaddled up in tape for a week or two. Take your time. Don’t rush. What seems to fit one day (especially with winter clothing if you live where it can be cold) may not fit the next day. Don’t rush this part of it. Make the gun fit perfectly. Tape is cheap.

Once you get that poor Ruger to fit you, put a Magic Marker “X” exactly where your cheek goes on the comb. Then take the whole mess to your local stockmaker/gunsmith and utter the magic words “Make it so.” He will bend the stock and repad the stock to make it permanent and pretty.

There. Wasn’t that easy?

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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