Bourjaily: Gun Fit
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A few years ago I had a full-scale fitting done by instructor Gil Ash. We used a try-gun, with a stock that adjusts in every direction, and we began with me pointing the gun at objects on the far wall of the Briley Manufacturing showroom while Ash tinkered with the stock. He gave the gun a little more drop and cast than I thought it needed. “You’ll see why I did that when we shoot the pattern plate,” he said. “No one cheeks a gun as hard when they shoot as they do when they mount it in the store.”
The next step was to mount and shoot at a steel plate on a stand from 16 yards away. Between shots, Ash used a paint roller to put a fresh coat of grease on the steel (some people use white wash, or just a can of white spray paint), and we shot and adjusted until the gun hit exactly where I looked when I mounted at a normal speed and fired when the butt touched my shoulder. It turns out Ash was absolutely right that I didn’t cheek the stock as hard when I was actually shooting, so there was some readjusting to do after the initial fit in the showroom. After that, I used the try gun throughout the course of a lesson, shooting about 250 targets with it. Every once in a while Ash would stop teaching and tweak the stock.
The Briley gunsmiths used my measurements to transform the stock of an old Miroku/Charles Daly trap gun to sporting clay dimensions. Recently, I had another gun stocked to those measurements, the Caesar Guerini Woodlander in the picture above.
In my case, my measurements come very close to standard factory drop, with a little cast on (lateral bend to put the rib squarely under the eye of a left-handed shooter), a 15-inch length of pull, and a change in the pitch (angle of the buttplate) so the gun fits neatly into my shoulder pocket.
A fitting session usually costs about $250-$350. The stockwork costs extra. Is it worth it?
With both guns, I am confident they will shoot where I look. It’s harder to mismount a gun fits, too. The more consistent your gun mount, the more benefit you will get from a fitting.
A gun that fits kicks less than one that doesn’t.
I can shoot either the Daly or the Guerini as well as I can shoot anything. Of course, on the frequent occasions I look in the wrong place, that’s exactly where a fitted gun shoots. Gun fitting helps, but it’s not magic.