Dear Bruce & Lonestar,
The best site anywhere. I hope you can help. I have been shooting skeet for about a year, off and on about once every 3 weeks. Two weeks ago I hit my first straight (mostly 24’s since). Since then, my confidence level has grown dramatically. I credit your articles for much of my improvement. I take friends and family whenever I can. I’ve recruited four or so into the fold, but the most enthusiastic is my nephew (12 years old). On his first time, the kid bagged 8. I’m looking for a recommendation for a gun for the youth shooter. We used a loner in 20ga but it was an adult gun.
For Lonestar, I’m looking for the same recommendation for my wife. She’s 5’4″ but not slight of build. The guns we run into most are for the average shooter of average (male) build. By the way, I have a citori skeet model, but I’m 5’5″. My wife feels this is too heavy for her. Any help appreciated.
Regardin’ a good scattergun for your better half… as in all things, it really depends on how much of your/her hard-earned dinero you want to spend. And a lot of it depends on how serious your gal is about shooting, and what game(s) she wants to shoot. For a reasonable price, you can get an automatic – Technoid’s gas gun – which will serve her well in almost anything. A Remington 1100 with different barrels for different games is the usual solution for both kids and women – and guys who aren’t hulking bubbas. It’s fine for skeet, for clays, for ZZ-birds, and for live birds if you are so inclined. It’s a crummy solution for trap – as most trapshooters much prefer folks with breakopen guns. That has to do with standin’ next to a gas gun on a trap field not bein’ a real nice experience. Bein’ dinged with ejected hulls all day is a pitiful feeling. But automatics are of course legal for trap, so we sorta have to tolerate ’em. If you want to spend a bit more, consult the Technoid for a Beretta automatic. That’s probably the best all-around solution.
For trap only, I’d go and find an old Belgian Browning over-under, mod and full chokes (or improved-mod and full). Make sure it’s in good shape (some are shot a bit loose in the action and on the rib – but a good gunsmith can check it for you). If you are lucky, you’ll find an old pigeon-grade round-knob model which is drop-dead elegant in anyone’s hands. Now, a Browning of any sort will kick your ears off, so you will also have to install a shock absorbing system like the Soft Touch or the G-Squared ShockMaster. But, you will have to whack the stock off anyway and put in an adjustable comb, so prepare to spend another grand more or less. If your lady wants only to shoot singles trap, then a Browning BT-100 system, or an old BT-99 is good also. She should shoot 30″ barrels on an over/under, 28″ barrels on an automatic, and 32″ barrels on a single-barrel trap gun.
As an aside, the forend on a gun needs to be shaped right for a woman’s smaller hand. Most forends are absolute fat clunks. Made for Bubbas who were ex-linebackers, or steer-wrestlers. Look for a smaller forend design, like the elegant Schnabel or the smaller wood on a pigeon gun or a good clays gun. Part of what makes a gun feel clunky to a woman is a big fat chunk of wood at the forend, and an even bigger clunk of a thing for a stock. Field guns tend to be less clunky and more along the lines of a woman’s hands – which is why I recommend a good Belgian Browning field gun, like a Lightning, if you can find it.
If there are more than just a few gold pieces in your jeans, then look at Beretta over/unders – some gals like ’em, but I don’t myself, they bust me upside the head. And then look at Perazzis. If you shoot very seriously, you will eventually get to one or the other. For some reason, them “spaghetti” guns are just better. They also cost sorta the same as your first ranch (including the cattle), but most of us just save up and get one eventually. Go to a big shoot and look at what the gals shoot who win. Chances are those gals have been shootin’ their rigs for years – unlike the local club Bigshot Bubba, who changes guns every 6 months. Women may changes their minds a lot, but they usually aren’t dumb enough to sell a gun that works for them.
For reference, I shoot a ten-year old Perazzi with 30″ trap barrels, improved-mod and full, for American trap (singles, doubles, and mid-yardage handicap), wobble trap, Olympic trench, and ZZ-birds. I do have a second set of 27 1/2″ barrels with screw chokes for formal social occasions, like sporting clays and skeet, but I can’t hit my hat with ’em – and I have a big hat. This rig has a ShockMaster recoil reduction system, a Fightin’ Texas Aggie Maroon stock, and a trailer hitch.
Remember – no woman (or mostly no women) can shoot an out-of-the-box shotgun. You *must* put in an adequate recoil reduction system (except gas guns, which don’t need one), whack the stock off some, and raise the comb up. Gunfit is EVERYTHING. If it don’t fit, ‘ya can whistle Dixie all ‘ya want, but ‘ya won’t hit the fat side of the barn.
Break ’em all, and God bless Texas….