Gun fit and stocking style
Gun fit and stocking styles
A guns fit is as personal as every element of a bespoke gun, although it's variations are from size, shooting style and eye domination rather than taste.
It often surprises those having a custom gun built to see the level of detail that is gained from a gun fitting, but all the information is used to get a perfectly fitted stock.
A gun fitting requires the fitter to manoeuvre a guns stock shape until the shooter repeatedly shoots with accuracy and comfort. Gun fitters have many methods but a "try gun" is often used which is an adjustable shotgun on which the stock is altered to fit the user.
The stocking measurements diagram shows some of the information gained from a gun fitting and demonstrates the complexity involved in a customised stock. When acquiring a gun the stock style is also worth considering and these vary depending on the guns intended use and personal preference.
A bit of history from Peter Harris - one of the UK's finest shooting instructors
Stock design has evolved from the French arquibus of the 16th century to enable the sportsman to make positive, repetitive mounts of the gun, to enable accuracy, combined with comfort. In the days of the double trigger the straight hand stock found favour as it enabled the 'Gun' to comfortably actuate both the front and rear trigger, it is important to point out that it is often erroneously thought that it enabled the hand to slide back to reach the rear trigger, this is incorrect, it actually enabled a comfortable change of grip to suit the trigger positions.
From this straight hand style, Purdey developed the Prince of Wales grip to accommodate the Prince's shooting style which due to the Prince using a 'trombone slide' technique with his front hand moving forwards and backwards on the fore-end to assist his swing on varying targets it enabled him to maintain gun and muzzle control by having a positive grip. The modern day over and under is often seen with a full or semi pistol grip that has been adapted to suit either sporting or competitive shooting, it is important to consider all aspects of a stocks design as an incorrectly contoured stock can cause all manner of problems, often due to incorrectly contoured combs we can suffer from damage to the face or discomfort, the front or nose of the comb needs to be correctly shaped so as not to inhibit the position of the base of the thumb, often at this point the nose of the comb is too near the action, the radius of the grip needs thought also
as incorrect or too tight can cause the wrist to be restricted in articulation and may cause cramp and discomfort.
In the field we require a gun that is comfortable to hold and walk, with sometimes for considerable amounts of time, whereas for competitive clay shooting we need a stock and grip design that gives total repeatable gunmount and gun control.
Over the passage of time we have seen many styles including the Greener Rationale style possibly a hundred years ahead of its time, the classic Browning B25 style, The Roach belly and Swan neck all finding favour in their time just as the modular Ergosign is doing presently, but one thing is for sure once you know your ideal measurements, just like a tailored suit nothing fits better than a custom made stock, carved with care from a well figured piece of walnut is a joy to use and a thing of
beauty to behold.