If you’re new to shooting or you’re in the market for a shotgun or rifle, you may have heard the term “gun fit” or “gun fitting” thrown around. No, this isn’t some strange kind of firearm related cross-fit training regime; Gun Fit is the art of ensuring that the fire arm is tailored perfectly to the shooter.
All people are different. Some are taller, some have shorter arms, some have broader shoulders. These subtle (or not so subtle) differences in our bodies mean that a firearm isn’t held the same way by everyone.
This is what we call gun fit.
The way a gun fits your body is essential to your skill as a shooter and getting it right from the start will make you more confident and more accurate as you learn to shoot. Your skills will progress much faster if your weapon is fit perfectly for your body.
A good gun fit allows the gun to fit your body in the same way, every time it’s mounted. If any measurement is incorrect if will cause you to shoulder the gun differently and adjust the aim of your weapon slightly.
Measuring Gun Fit
Gun fit can only truly be measured by a trained expert. A trained gun-fitter and gun-smith will be able to provide a weapon that fits perfectly or adjust your current firearm to fit your stance.
A gun fitter will use a fully adjustable gun to get your specific measurements. These are weapons with stocks adjustable in more ways than imaginable. They’ll then use this as a blank to adjust a weapon for you.
They’ll look at the weapon’s length of pull. This is the length from the trigger to the rear of the stock. Anything too long might drag on your clothing, hinder your mount and giving you less control of the weapon as your arms reach out further than they should. If the weapon’s too short, you may experience bruising in your shoulder.
Another aspect a gun fitter will look at is the “drop” of the stock. The drop refers to how much the stock drops down from the receiver, often referred to the as “bend”. This plays a part in where your eye aligns with the barrel. For obvious reasons, if this isn’t suited to your body then your eye won’t align to the sites properly. You’ll either realise this and spend more time focussing on aligning to the sights than aiming at the target, or you’ll simply miss due to the unnoticed misalignment.
Next is “Cast-off” or “Cast-on”. This is how much the stock is moved to the right, or the left (off and on, respectively). If the centre of the rear of the stock is to the right of the centre of the barrel, you’ve got cast-off. Sometimes, this is necessary to better align the barrel with the eye of the shooter, sometimes it’s completely unnecessary.
All of these factors (and more) culminate is putting your eye directly over the “rib”. If you take your fully unloaded and safe weapon and shoulder it in front of a mirror, your iris should be perched on top of the rib of the weapon. The rib is the site that runs along the top of the barrel. Your iris should be sat perfectly on top, not your pupil or your eye ball, and it definitely shouldn’t be over to one side. Repeatedly shoulder your shotgun to get an idea of where you “snap” your weapon to when shooting.
Naturally, gun fitters and gun smiths are trained to look for a huge number of different variables in the gun’s fit. No do-it-yourself guide will give you the kind of quality gun fit that a specialist gun-fitter can give you. However, it’s possible, using the above in conjunction with online guides, get yourself a gun that fits you relatively well, rather than chancing it.