By: Paul Giambrone, III
One of the hottest topics amongst the shooting sports is proper gun fit. And just like anything else, everyone has their own opinion on what they think is “right.” The thing that bothers me the most is when someone tells a newer shooter the gun HAS to shoot 50/50 or 60/40 or 70/30 or whatever number they come up with. At one point, I was guilty of this myself. I did not truly understand the “art” form of gun fit at the time, but I do now. The most important part about gun fit is that the gun shoots where the shooter is looking. Plain and simple. Some shooters that might be 50/50, most skeet shooters (in my experiences) shoot around 60/40, but that doesn’t mean that is correct for EVERY shooter… I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the term “figure 8” where you stack the end bead on top of the middle bead to make a “snowman” or a “figure 8.” Quite frankly, I rarely have a student that has this alignment. Most of the time, the shooter’s eye is above both beads leaving a slight gap (vertically) between the beads so the shooter has better vision down range.
The science end of gun fit is very important as well, don’t get me wrong! Things like the cast on or off, the proper comb height, proper drop at the heel, the correct pitch, length of pull and all that good stuff. All of these items on a “standard” off the shelf stock rarely fit a person properly. This is why we have adjustable combs and butt-plates to get these standard stocks to fit the shooter as best we can. For the serious competitors, getting a custom fit stock should be highly considered. Keeping in mind, that just because someone is labeled a “stock fitter” doesn’t mean that they know what’s best for you. Please, proceed with caution! Having a stock that fits you properly allows the shooter to have a great chance at achieving a good stance, a good gun mount which leads to good gun fit. If you have to modify yourself to “fit” the gun, chances are you are going to compromise your body mechanics. This will hinder your ability to stay consistent.
When I work with my students, I have them mount the gun from station 4 and have right-handed shooters setup like they are going to shoot a high house while left-handed shooters will setup for a low house target. I look at their stance first, then how they mount, then check how it is fitting them. If there are any adjustments I feel we should make, I do it at that time. However, the final step in gun fit is having them shoot targets to make sure the gun is shooting where they are looking. I start them off on station 7 and we shoot a handful of low house targets. In order to make sure the gun is shooting where they are looking, we need to first be sure they have their cheek firmly secured to the stock and their eyes are out in the distance looking for the target. When the low house on 7 comes out, there should be a direct move to the target followed by a hard focus on the target followed by black smoke! If this does not happen, no need to panic on the first shot (especially if we adjusted something). However, if after a handful of shots and the person still has not gotten consistent middle breaks, the gun is not shooting where they are looking! If they are breaking the bottoms off the low 7, we need to raise the comb to get their eyes up higher to see the target better! Or, if they are breaking the left side of the target, there isn’t enough cast off (right-handed shooter) and we need to move the comb away from their face more (to the right) to get them centered. Once we get the gun shooting where they are looking, then we proceed to incomers then the quicker crossing and outgoing shots.