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More Hits With a Stock That Fits

Gil and Vicki Ash explain if your shotgun stock fits properly, you’ll make more hits.

By Gil and Vicki Ash

The new hunting guns that have synthetic stocks are great unless you are over 5’ 11” because they can’t be extended the normal way due to their hollow stock. We suggest the Galco leather velcro recoil pad as a way to extend the gun because it is deep enough to carry 5/8 inch of spacers and able to increase the overall length of pull as much as 1 1/4 inches.

The month was November and we found ourselves in Argentina with a group eager to get into the field with their new Benelli Cordobas that they had purchased just for this trip. We had only worked with one in the group, Jeff Ward, who setup the trip and invited some of his friends from YPO (Young Presidents Organization). Two of the group were fairly tall and the guns they bought were too short for them. Had we worked with them before the trip we would have gotten them a leather slip-on pad that lengthens the gun about 5/8 -inch and put a half-inch spacer inside of it so the gun would be 1 1/8 inch longer and fit a lot better.

The one we recommend is made by Galco and comes in different sizes: small, medium, large and extra large. The thing that makes these unique is that they are easy to install and they are deep enough to put an additional 3/4-inch spacer in it. This gives the ability to extend the gun from an additional 5/8-inch all the way out to an additional 1 3/8 inches.

This doesn’t sound like much of an adjustment and if you were going to an afternoon dove shoot here in the states, it probably would not be as big a deal. But when you travel all that way and shoot as much as you do in Argentina, having a gun the right length is a big deal.

The Benelli Cordoba shotgun is one of the most reliable semi-automatic shotguns on the market. They have a recoil pad system that allows for a quick user-friendly way to change the recoil pad and thus change the length of pull on the gun. They also do make a recoil pad that is a little longer, but if you are more than 6 feet tall, you had better check to see if the longer pad will make the gun long enough.

This photo shows Vicki with her gun at the level of the horizon, which is normal while she is looking up at the birds. This puts the shooter well behind the bird as they are coming into range. Starting the gun behind the bird and chasing the bird with the muzzle is the greatest cause for birds flaring as they come into range.

The reason we are bringing this up is that due to the configuration of the inside of the stock and the way the recoil pads slip on and off, the gun cannot be lengthened in the conventional way by adding spacers and installing a new recoil pad. You have one of two options: either a slip-on recoil pad or have a gunsmith glue some wood in the hollow buttstock so spacers and a new thicker recoil pad can be screwed onto the butt of the gun.

If you are looking for a waterfowl gun and you hunt where it is very cold and you wear a heavy coat, then the shorter length of pull makes this gun work for you.

It is amazing how many people who call us to take a lesson before they go to Argentina and show up with a gun that does not fit, that is new or they have not touched in two years.

If you can’t mount the gun consistently to your face and shoulder in the same place every time, you are not going to experience much success or get better.

The same holds true for a gun that is either too long or too short. If it is too short, the amount of recoil you feel will be increased. If it is too long, the balance point will be too far forward and you will shift your weight to the back foot and recoil will increase.

A person who puts in the time and actually learns how to properly mount a shotgun will be a more consistent shooter. They will also be able to adapt to an ill-fitting gun after a few shots. Although they won’t be as consistent as they would be with their own gun or one that fits, they will be able to hold their own and not get hurt.

Guns that are stocked too low or have a little too much cast are infinitely more forgiving to shoot than guns that are stocked too high or have thick combs that require an extreme amount of cast. Any gun that you have to cheek harder to shoot well will produce more felt recoil and eventually bruise your cheek and you will never shoot it well.

The first thing we tell our students, especially the first-timers, is not to try to get your money’s worth on the first hunt. We tell them to pace themselves and look for the rhythm of the birds. We also explain that in order to be consistent they must get control of their gun speed and move and mount with the speed of the bird.

The OSP technique is to start with the muzzles much higher and looking at the incoming birds to either side of the barrels. This makes for much less movement that is more efficient and consistent because you are starting the move in front of the bird not behind.

When we arrive at the hunting site, they act like a kid who is finally tall enough to ride all the rides at Disneyworld! They end up shooting so much, so fast that they look like a teenager’s thumbs texting on a cell phone! It is as if we never said anything. We get them to slow down and move with the bird and take better shots. They don’t have to shoot every bird that comes by.

Then we hear it, “Wow the birds really do slow down when you slow down.” It is at that point that the learning begins.

On this particular trip we actually had some shooters who spent some time shooting just longer shots, 35 to 45 yards, and made remarkable improvement. On these hunts we had the opportunity to shoot a few really high birds along with some that weren’t so high.

When shooting the incoming shot, the typical setup is to have the gun stock in the ready position between the shooter ’s elbow and ribs and the muzzle pointing just a little above the horizon. The shooter is watching the birds come in and, as they begin to come into range, the shooter begins to move and mount the gun. That all sounds great, but when approached this way there is a lot of movement and the extra movement is seen by the doves and they often will flare, creating confusion for the shooter.

Why the extra movement? Because the muzzle is pointed just above the horizon, but the birds are much higher than the horizon when they come into range. When you begin to move the muzzle toward the birds, you are so far behind that you must catch up to the birds, causing the muzzle to move faster than the birds and the birds see that movement, causing them to flare. If the hunter starts with muzzles pointing up fairly high, and looks at the birds either through the barrel(s) or to the side of the barrels, then the muzzles are more easily inserted in front of and on line with the bird in one slow, precise movement. If the birds should change their line in either direction, it takes very little movement to shift the muzzle to the line as the gun mount begins. Since the muzzles are ahead of the bird to begin with, it makes it easy to merge in front of the birds at the speed of the birds as the gun is mounted and the shot is taken. To do this well takes some practice.



Three Tikkas For The Family

Joe N. recently responded to our question on what guns and loads he uses. He replied with not only his personal favorite, but also the guns and loads his whole family uses.

“My son, Tyler, 14, started out with a Remington Youth Model 700 in 7mm08. It’s topped with a Leupold 2×9 scope.  He took an elk and two deer with Remington Corelokt 140 gr. factory ammo and all were one-shot kills.

“My daughter, Mattie, picked up the same gun and took her first elk with it last year.  It was also a one-shot Kill.  Her ammo was Federal with Nosler Partitions 140-grain bullets.

“This year, they have both moved on to Tikka rifles–both chambered in 308.  One is topped with a Burris Signature Select 4×16 scope and the other with a Leupold 3×9.  They will be hunting elk in five weeks and, based on the holes in the targets, they will do just fine.  They will be shooting Federal Premium Nosler Partition.
“Personally, I hunted with a Remington Model 700 chambered in 7MM Rem. Mag. for many years.  I’ve taken many elk, deer, and antelope with it.  I generally shoot handloaded Nosler Partition 160-grain bullets. Later, I took to sheep hunting and decided it called for a new rifle.  That new rifle is a Tikka T3 Light topped with a Leupold VXIII with the B&C reticle. Chambering is .300 WSM and I shoot Winchester XP3 loads with 180-grain bullets.  With it I have taken a Dall and Stone sheep, caribou, and two elk.  I love it.”


Safari Club International Foundation Announces Bob Benson as Executive Director

Safari Club International Foundation is pleased to announce that Bob Benson has been selected to serve as Executive Director.  Bob is an avid hunter and strident conservationist who will be a leader for the entire sustainable use conservation community.

SCIF President, Joe Hosmer (l.) introduced new SCIF Executive Director, Bob Benson (r.), to new SCI Chapter Presidents at the AWLS camp in conjunction with the August, 2012 Board Meetings.

“Bob brings nearly 20 years of experience to SCI Foundation with expertise in wildlife conservation and philanthropic development,” said Joe Hosmer, President of SCI Foundation. “We are confident that Bob will bring leadership to our entire industry as he develops a strategic plan and vision to take our organization to new heights.”

“I’m thrilled and feel very fortunate to be able to share my vision for the SCI Foundation. I believe that my passion, knowledge, and expertise in wildlife conservation will allow me to be an efficient and effective leader of the Foundation.” said Bob Benson, SCI Foundation Executive Director. “I look forward to working with the board, staff, and volunteers as we begin the next steps to grow the organization to the next level.”

Bob most recently served as the Vice President and Executive Director of the National Audubon Society’s Texas Program, an organization that he has led since October 2008. He began his career with Bat Conservation International (BCI) based in Austin, TX. After a decade of service to the global mission of BCI, he moved on to Ducks Unlimited’s national headquarters in Memphis, TN. While at Ducks Unlimited, Benson earned his accreditation in Public Relations and DU’s “Wings of Innovation Award.”  Before joining Audubon Texas, he served as the Associate Director of Philanthropy for The Nature Conservancy of Texas.


Olympian Kim Rhode Featured on Winchester Ammo Box

Kim Rhode Winchester Ammo BoxOlympic champion Kim Rhode is the newest American icon to be featured on a box of Winchester ammunition.  Rhode joins the ranks of a very select few who have been pictured on Winchester ammunition packaging—John Wayne, Teddy Roosevelt and Oliver F. Winchester.

During the 2012 summer Olympics, Rhode won her third gold medal making her the first woman to hold three gold medals in sport shooting.

“Kim is an American hero and an inspiration to anyone with hopes and dreams,” said Brett Flaugher, Winchester Ammunition vice president of marketing and sales. “Kim’s career accomplishments are unmatched in Olympic competition and we’re proud to say that she shoots Winchester Ammunition.”

Winchester Ammunition is a longtime Rhode and USA Shooting Shotgun Team supporter.  This year SCI also became a proud sponsor of Kim Rhode.

The commemorative box of AA target loads will hold the standard 25-rounds of 2 ¾-inch, No. 8 shot target shells.  A portion of the proceeds from the limited edition release will be donated to USA Shooting.