Long Neck Gun Fit


Bruce:

I often see people saying that you should shoot with your head erect. I have difficulty doing this because my neck is so long. I tried that with the 1100/12 last night to see the result, an the result is as expected: less than 1/2 of the butt pad is on my shoulder if my neck is straight.

So therefore, I guess I am a stock crawler as well, and have to drop my head rather a lot to get down on the comb. Once there, I have a good fit and line of sight.

Perhaps I need to make a stock for my gun that has a straight comb, and then a dropped recoil pad. Kind of like if you twisted a monte carlo stock so that the comb was level.

Robert

Dear Robert,

People with short necks always say that you should shoot with your head erect. People with long necks crawl their stocks. There it is in the world of physiognomy.

Technically, the eyes see most clearly when the head is erect and the eyes are sighting straight ahead, rather than up, down or to the side. That’s the perfect world. Shotgunning isn’t a perfect world by a long shot.

All sorts of stocks have been contrived to enable people to shoot with an erect head. Some of these things have ribs a couple of inches high. OK for trap, I guess, where you can get away with weird single purpose guns, but not so hot for all the other games and hunting.

To me, the paradigm of gunfit still remains the classic English game gun. It’s fit really hasn’t been improved for over 150 years. In England, a Monte Carlo stock or grossly elevated rib is rarer than crisp string beans. Englishmen come in all sorts of shapes and sizes just like the rest of us, so how did Englishmen with long necks handle it?

Answer: When mounting the gun, they raise the shoulder towards the cheek. The raised shoulder carries the gun with it towards the face. If the shoulder is kept low, the rear of the butt must stick up higher than the shoulder in order for the comb to reach the cheek. Either that or the head must be brought down to the comb, resulting in excessive stock crawling and looking through the eyebrows.

Obviously, everything is a compromise and a slight blend of styles, but try raising your shoulder pocket up slightly to bring the gun closer to your face. You may find that this will lessen the amount that you have to crawl the stock.

Many people use a dropped recoil pad, rather than a raised shoulder. This is a temporary solution of using mechanics instead of proper shooting form. Over the long run, this is a bad idea as it places the recoil vector of the gun high above the bearing point of the shoulder. The greatly increases muzzle rise and thus recoil to the face.

One last point- a little stock crawling and leaning forward isn’t a bad idea. A perfectly upright stance may be great for seeing the bird, but it does very little to absorb recoil efficiently. In sporting clays, low gun skeet and driven or field shooting over pointers, I have found it most comfortable to start with my feet shoulder width apart and weight evenly distributed on both feet. Both knees are very slightly flexed. As I move to the bird, I shift my weight with the bird very slightly. In trap I tend to start with a slightly more weight forward posture, but I do NOT use a stiff rear leg and fencer’s stance. Having a little flex in both those legs at the start of the shot will do wonders to keep vertebrae from compressing over many years of shotgunning at clays.

As the Pennsylvania Dutch say: “We get too soon old and too late smart.”

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid at http://www.ShotgunReport.com
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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