"A custom fitted gun is the pre-requisite to achieving a shooter's full potential."
The following article will answer some questions you may have about gun fitting
Q: Does a gun need to be fitted to shoot well?
A: Consider the first thing that you do on entering a new car. You adjust the seat and mirrors to suit your personal requirements, in particular the height and leg room of the seat so you can easily reach the controls, and ensure good vision of the road, instruments and mirrors. These adjustments are an essential aid to good and safe driving. A secondary consideration is comfort. A well adjusted seat allows you to maintain concentration when the car needs to be driven for long periods. We have all suffered from a poor driving position and the resulting agony to back or neck it can cause. An off-the-rock shotgun will do the job, but a custom-fitted one becomes a source of confidence and comfort and a joy to own and use.
Q: Is it possible to shoot successfully with an ill-fitting gun?
A: You can shoot an unfitted gun with a great deal of success; however, this will always be achieved by a compromise in style and technique. You will have to adapt yourself to the gun to achieve proper eye-muzzle relationship. This need to conform to the gun will necessarily create a pause or break in your natural mount or swing that on those split-second timing targets causes a miss, or at minimum, inconsistency.
Q: What is a pattern plate?
A: The pattern plate’s role in gun fitting is to check the point of impact of the pattern, its pellet distribution and position. This is utilized in gun fitting by firing the plate from fixed position. Used this way, the pattern plate gives accurate feedback to the gunfitter to make the necessary adjustments to achieve a perfect fit.
Q: What is a try-gun?
A: The try-gun, invented by W.P. Jones in the 19th century, is a gun with a stock that can be adjusted for length, cast and bend or drop. When used in conjunction with the pattern plate it enables the fitter to make a series of alterations to achieve perfect fit. Once the fit is obtained at the pattern plate, the try-gun can be shot on moving targets, where comfort and accuracy can be double checked.
Q: How are guns altered to make them fit?
A: Once accurate sets of measurements are taken from the try-gun, the measurements can be taken to a competent gunsmith. By using heat and oil – or, steam –or, infrared beams the gunsmith bend or shapes the gun to the designed dimensions, and the adding or reduction to the stock easily achieves length.
Q: What are the gunfitter’s measurements?
A: Drop: The measurements from a parallel line taken from the rib of the gun to the stock at the comb and heel.
Length: Taken from the trigger (the front one on an double triggered gun) to the end of the stock at heel, middle and toe.
Cast: Taken from a vertical line through the centre of the heel of the stock and measured against a straight edge from the rib, at the heel and toe. (A special tool, called a „banjo“ is usually used for these important measurements.)
Q: What are my cross-eyed dominance options?
A: If you are cross dominant, that, is, you shoot off the shoulder opposite your dominant eye, you will need to close the dominant eye or obscure it in some way when shooting. A patch or an opaquelens on a pair of shooting glasses will do the job just fine.
The benefits of Joerg’s gun fitting service include the availability of both over and under and side by side try-guns. Successful shooting at game birds or clay pigeons depends on a number of factors. These include such issues as consistently correct gun mount (vital before any attempt can be made to fit a gun), foot positioning, weight distribution, head positioning and last, but by no means least, a correct fitting gun. With expert use of the try-gun, three sets of measurements, those of length, bend or drop, and cast (either on or off) can be determined. All these measurements are needed if an existing stock is to be altered, or an existing gun is to be restocked.