Joy of Hunting
I've learned over 11 years how true this is, in spite of my being the standard size for an off-the-shelf gun. I'm 5'10" and 150 lbs. I have quite a long "in-shoulder" area before I begin to stick out (!), I don't have petite hands and I have a broad face. I can buy a gun with a LOP of 14.5" and expect it to need very little adjustment. And yet, even so, I have had trouble with gun fit and it is because of my form!
Shortly after I began to shoot, Bruce generously bought me a custom stock for Christmas. Off I went to a reputable stock-fitter, Mike Lupold, but Mike took one look at my form and told me to come back when I had developed some consistency in my mount. I waited a couple of years and persuaded him to make me a stock for my Silver Pigeon, which he duly did - a beautiful maple stock that appears in some photos and was dubbed "the blonde bombshell". I no longer have it.
Why? After a few more years of shooting, it didn't fit! The stock was too short, the grip was wrong and the recoil was hell on my face and middle finger (in fact, I passed the gun on to a shooter friend with a significantly smaller frame and she had none of these issues).
Fast forward to last year. Several guns later that sort-of fit but had various issues, I sold most of them and decided to get one that did fit. I was experienced enough to now know what I wanted, and, having consulted Elizabeth, I followed her seemingly outlandish suggestion to try a Krieghoff Parcours, 12 ga. There was no way I was willing to pay that much for a gun.... until I tried it and was completely blown away by it. But the point I'm coming to is the gun-fitting part.
The purchase included a free gun-fitting, so I went off to meet Will Fennell during the Sporting Clays Nationals (even though it was hunting season in Montana!!!!) in San Antonio. Over the course of two days with Will checking my form, and a couple of practice rounds with Elizabeth, Will got a fair picture of my shooting style and concluded: "I can either fit the gun to your form, which will mean cutting the stock, or you can change your form to fit the gun. It fits you perfectly when you mount it and swing it without standing back on your heels and arcing your shoulders". I was flabbergasted!
I chose to "correct" my form, though I didn't actually have to - which is sort of the point, really. Gun fitters can fit a stock to accommodate a lot of variables, but if you change the variables, the fit will change. I decided to change the variable of my form and I have been thrilled with this gun ever since. All it needed in the end was for the adjustable comb to be raised a couple of centimeters and locked into place! I hunted all season with it, carting around an 8 lb gun that felt comfortable rather than a lighter one that didn't. I hunted three days at Flying B Ranch in March, 8 hrs a day, and hunted all but one hour with it. That other hour I carried my much-lighter 28 ga - and developed a blister on my hand where the grip dug in.
So, Ladies, one of the services we offer at JoH is a gun-fit service. If you are a new hunter, we give you help to select a gun that more-or-less fits, so that you can develop good form and shoot well while learning what the perfect gun might look like, for you, over time. We also teach good form, both for sporting clays and for the field.
Guys, as Elizabeth says in her article, your generous gift of a gun is much appreciated, but please let your discerning partner choose her own gun, with a little help from us!