Gil and Vicki Ash explain if your shotgun stock fits properly, you‚Äôll make more hits. By Gil and Vicki Ash The month was November and¬†we found ourselves in Argentina¬†with a group eager to get into the¬†field with their new Benelli Cordobas¬†that they had purchased just for this¬†trip. We had only worked with one in¬†the group, Jeff Ward, who setup the¬†trip and invited some of his friends¬†from YPO (Young Presidents¬†Organization). Two of the group were¬†fairly tall and the guns they bought¬†were too short for them. Had we¬†worked with them before the trip we¬†would have gotten them a leather slip-on¬†pad that lengthens the gun about¬†5/8 -inch and put a half-inch spacer¬†inside of it so the gun would be 1 1/8¬†inch longer and fit a lot better. The one we recommend is made by¬†Galco and comes in different sizes:¬†small, medium, large and extra large.¬†The thing that makes these unique is¬†that they are easy to install and they¬†are deep enough to put an additional¬†3/4-inch spacer in it. This gives the ability¬†to extend the gun from an additional¬†5/8-inch all the way out to an¬†additional 1 3/8 inches. This doesn‚Äôt sound like much of an¬†adjustment and if you were going to¬†an afternoon dove shoot here in the¬†states, it probably would not be as big¬†a deal. But when you travel all that¬†way and shoot as much as you do in¬†Argentina, having a gun the right¬†length is a big deal. The Benelli Cordoba shotgun is one¬†of the most reliable semi-automatic¬†shotguns on the market. They have a¬†recoil pad system that allows for a¬†quick user-friendly way to change the¬†recoil pad and thus change the length¬†of pull on the gun. They also do make¬†a recoil pad that is a little longer, but if¬†you are more than 6 feet tall, you had better¬†check to see if the longer pad will¬†make the gun long enough. The reason we are bringing this up¬†is that due to the configuration of the¬†inside of the stock and the way the¬†recoil pads slip on and off, the gun¬†cannot be lengthened in the conventional¬†way by adding spacers and¬†installing a new recoil pad. You have¬†one of two options: either a slip-on¬†recoil pad or have a gunsmith glue¬†some wood in the hollow buttstock so¬†spacers and a new thicker recoil pad¬†can be screwed onto the butt of the¬†gun. If you are looking for a waterfowl¬†gun and you hunt where it is very¬†cold and you wear a heavy coat, then¬†the shorter length of pull makes this¬†gun work for you. It is amazing how many people who¬†call us to take a lesson before they go¬†to Argentina and show up with a gun¬†that does not fit, that is new or they¬†have not touched in two years. If you can‚Äôt mount the gun consistently¬†to your face and shoulder in the¬†same place every time, you are not¬†going to experience much success or¬†get better. The same holds true for a gun that is¬†either too long or too short. If it is too¬†short, the amount of recoil you feel¬†will be increased. If it is too long, the¬†balance point will be too far forward¬†and you will shift your weight to the¬†back foot and recoil will increase. A person who puts in the time and¬†actually learns how to properly mount¬†a shotgun will be a more consistent¬†shooter. They will also be able to adapt¬†to an ill-fitting gun after a few shots.¬†Although they won‚Äôt be as consistent¬†as they would be with their own gun¬†or one that fits, they will be able to¬†hold their own and not get hurt. Guns that are stocked too low or¬†have a little too much cast are infinitely¬†more forgiving to shoot than¬†guns that are stocked too high or have¬†thick combs that require an extreme¬†amount of cast. Any gun that you¬†have to cheek harder to shoot well will¬†produce more felt recoil and eventually¬†bruise your cheek and you will¬†never shoot it well. The first thing we tell our students,¬†especially the first-timers, is not to try¬†to get your money‚Äôs worth on the first¬†hunt. We tell them to pace themselves¬†and look for the rhythm of the birds.¬†We also explain that in order to be¬†consistent they must get control of¬†their gun speed and move and mount¬†with the speed of the bird. When we arrive at the hunting site,¬†they act like a kid who is finally tall¬†enough to ride all the rides at¬†Disneyworld! They end up shooting¬†so much, so fast that they look like a¬†teenager‚Äôs thumbs texting on a cell¬†phone! It is as if we never said¬†anything. We get them to slow down¬†and move with the bird and take¬†better shots. They don‚Äôt have to shoot¬†every bird that comes by. Then we hear it, ‚ÄúWow the birds¬†really do slow down when you slow¬†down.‚Äù It is at that point that the¬†learning begins. On this particular trip¬†we actually had some shooters who¬†spent some time shooting just longer¬†shots, 35 to 45 yards, and made¬†remarkable improvement.¬†On these hunts we had the opportunity¬†to shoot a few really high birds¬†along with some that weren‚Äôt so high. When shooting the incoming shot, the¬†typical setup is to have the gun stock¬†in the ready position between the¬†shooter ‚Äôs elbow and ribs and the¬†muzzle pointing just a little above the¬†horizon.¬†The shooter is watching the birds¬†come in and, as they begin to come¬†into range, the shooter begins to move¬†and mount the gun. That all sounds¬†great, but when approached this way¬†there is a lot of movement and the¬†extra movement is seen by the doves¬†and they often will flare, creating¬†confusion for the shooter. Why the extra movement? Because the¬†muzzle is pointed just above the¬†horizon, but the birds are much¬†higher than the horizon when they¬†come into range. When you begin to¬†move the muzzle toward the birds,¬†you are so far behind that you must¬†catch up to the birds, causing the¬†muzzle to move faster than the birds¬†and the birds see that movement,¬†causing them to flare.¬†If the hunter starts with muzzles¬†pointing up fairly high, and looks at the¬†birds either through the barrel(s) or to¬†the side of the barrels, then the muzzles¬†are more easily inserted in front of¬†and on line with the bird in one slow,¬†precise movement.¬†If the birds should change their line¬†in either direction, it takes very little¬†movement to shift the muzzle to the¬†line as the gun mount begins. Since¬†the muzzles are ahead of the bird to¬†begin with, it makes it easy to merge¬†in front of the birds at the speed of the¬†birds as the gun is mounted and the¬†shot is taken. To do this well takes¬†some practice.  

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