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Ask Dr. Shotgun

The Real Dr Shotgun
Who is “Dr. Shotgun”™ you ask? Simply said, he is the answer to everything you ever wanted to know about shotguns, gunfitting and wingshooting... but have not known who to ask! “Dr. Shotgun”™ is here to help and serve. “Dr. Shotgun”™ has over 35 years of experience in the world of fine shotguns and he realized quite awhile back that many of the questions he’s fielded by his clients are repeated over and over and over again. Therefore, he will selectively answer your questions on the FIELDSPORT web site in a public forum. “Dr. Shotgun”™ has decided to help more than one dedicated Wingshooter at a time by publicly posting the answers to both commonly asked and difficult questions alike. If the good Dr. is stumped, he will dig deep into his group of Wingshooting friends and cronies to research and arrive at the correct answer for all.

So, fire away... e-mail “Dr. Shotgun”™ your questions and he will do his best to answer them, for the benefit of all.

Best Wishes & Good Shooting, “Dr. Shotgun”™

I'm consistently shooting high. What are my options at resolving the problem as we go into hunting season? I have a feeling that adjusting the drop at the face of the stock, or getting an adjustable comb may mean the gun is tied up until after the birds are long gone for the year. I can't afford to have my gun in for the adjustment for too long because the grouse season is not too far off now. Could a magic dot or a bit of moleskin on the stock simply solve the problem for the hunting season, or do I need to get refitted and get the gun adjusted properly - as soon as possible?

Dear “Over The Top”, Shooting over the top or consistently high can either be a good thing or a bad thing. For most bird hunting type shots, a gun that shoots a couple inches high can be a true benefit and an advantage. The higher point of impact helps to build in natural lead for a rising bird (or target). Most game birds are rising if they have flushed from cover and are still accelerating by rapidly beating their respective wings. More often than not, sporting clays competitors today experience a different problem. Many targets today are presented to be shot at well past their apex and are dropping when shot. Therefore, a relatively flat shooting sporting clays gun will benefit the competitor who sees a lot of flat trajectory or dropping target presentations. Unfortunately, none of the “gun fit” options you listed are going to help you one bit. An adjustable comb can really only help if you need to raise the point of impact or add and subtract some cast off/on at face. The reason you see a lot of adjustable combs on “trap” guns is because trap competitors benefit by shooting a high impacting gun. Single trap targets are typically shot under power and rising, thus the lead for elevation is built in with a trap gun that shoot 70%, 80% or even 90% high. Moleskin, in effect, accomplishes the same benefits to stock fit as does adding an adjustable comb. If you’re lucky and your stock is presently too short for you (at length of pull) a simple change you could make to lower your point of impact is to add a recoil pad to lengthen the stock. Your face will therefore contact farther back and lower on the comb, thus lowering your eye alignment and respective point of impact. Ultimately, the easiest and best way to lower your point of impact, is to have a proper gunfitting conducted for you, thereby determining your ideal stock dimensions. Then you can have your gun “bent” to your ideal drop at face and cast off/on at face and the l.o.p. altered as necessary. When stocks need to be bent by the hot oil method, the amount of time it takes a stock-bender to work his craft is typically two or three weeks. The biggest issue with any custom gunsmithing vs. turn around time normally relates to the time of year the work is submitted. It may take the stock bender only two or three days to complete the respective work on your gun, however if you send in your gun in early September and the gunsmith has 15 stock bends already booked ahead of your job, you see the reason for the delay. However, if you ask for the work to be conducted in the slower work months like Jan., Feb., or March the work may only take one week or so to complete. If all else fails, many gunsmiths offer a “rush order” fee. For an additional charge, the gunsmith is offering to burn the midnight oil and complete your stock bend as quickly as possible, without compromising his already booked clients. Simply put, don’t wait until bird season is only a few weeks away to deliver your gun to the stock bender, expecting to have the gun completed by opening day. I hope my answer helps you decide what to do with your “shooting over the top” problem. Good Luck & Good Shooting, Dr. Shotgun

I want to get my twelve-year old son started off on the right foot in shotgunning. I don't believe in starting anyone at any age with a .410-bore or 28-gauge gun as I think these are tools for experts (if anyone), not beginners. My choice is the 20-gauge loaded with 7/8 ounces of shot at around 1200 feet per second--enough to hit targets and birds hard, but without too much recoil and muzzle blast (might be a good prescription for all of us). I'm a traditionalist, so pumps and autoloaders are out of the question, but should I start him with a side-by-side or over/under? I have a sense that if he learns to shoot with a double-triggered side-by-side he can add or switch to an over/under later with relative ease, but it might not be as easy for him to shoot two triggers and side-by-side barrels later if he starts with an over/under. What are your thoughts on the right way to get him started?

Dear Mr. Phillips, Thankfully, your question is one I receive frequently these days. First, thank you for taking a concerned view of how to properly start a youngster shotgun shooting. My number one words of advise revolve around the concern that your son is strong enough to properly lift (mount) the shotgun of choice to his face and shoulder. Secondly, gun fit becomes a major issue. Since 12 year olds are still growing, you could expect your son to need a higher comb than normally found on stocks made for adult shooters. A high number of youngsters that I have worked with need a Monte Carlo type stock to get the comb height they need, combined with a low enough drop at heel to get the entire sole of the butt stock comfortably seated in the shoulder pocket. Thirdly, check his eye dominancy. A lot of youngsters still have not established a true, dominant eye until they have gone totally through puberty. I would recommend he shoots from the side (shoulder) that he is the most coordinated. You will need to put a dime sized piece of scotch tape one his shooting glasses, blocking the view of the dominant eye (when the gun mount is completed) if he starts out shooting from the opposite shoulder, ie; left eye dominant yet very right hand dominant. Your thoughts on a traditionalist view of gun selection is admirable. If you can make the gun fit, a nice 20 bore sxs with open chokes and double triggers is a great start. However, I would first check to see if his fingers are long enough or hand size large enough so he can comfortably reach the front trigger before starting him out on double triggers. If not, one simple option is to have him shoot the back trigger until he grows into the double trigger arrangement. Recoil wise, another good option is to purchase the Fiocchi 20 ga 3/4 oz (1075 fps) trainer loads for use by your son. They are very soft shooting target loads. As I'm sure you're aware, get a good pair of shooting & safety glasses for your son and always make sure he is wearing proper hearing protection. Keep the shooting sessions fun and relatively short, 1 hour or less. The target presentations should vary, encouraging gun movement and swinging. Higher, quartering incomers are great target presentations that instill gun movement, a lead picture and are becoming "easier" to hit the closer they become to the shooter. A perfect target to move, mount and shoot. I've covered some of my basic concerns regarding teaching youngsters to shoot. If you would like more clarification on any of my highlighted points, please don't hesitate to call me. I would be happy to answer your questions in more detail. Good Luck & Good Shooting, Dr. Shotgun

I am 72 years old and have shot righthanded my entire life. Two years ago I experienced a detached retina in my dominent right eye and suffered a significant loss of vision. Now when I mount a shotgun to my right shoulder I see the left side of the barrel not the top of the rib. Thus the point of impact is to the left of the target. I've tried learning to shoot lefthanded but at my age thats problematic. A crossover stock might help but thats pricey. Any ideas?

Dear Mr. Baker, I was just getting ready to respond to your inquiry when I realized that you recently purchased a sweet AyA 4/53 20 ga from us. Thank you very much. I also heard that you mentioned to my gun dept. mgr, Mike, that you were looking for a sxs with a significant amount of cast-off in the stock. Bingo. The more cast off the better. You in effect are moving toward a "central vision" of "cross over stock" by buying the gun you did. In fact, since that stock was orignally ordered from AyA with that specific measurement of "cast off", if you so desire, our stock bender can add even more cast off at face. Sadly, there are only a few options for shooters who have lost the use of the vision in their dominant right eye and cannot switch to shooting left handed. Cross-over stocks were conceived to rectify the problem. A high number of cross-over guns were made after WWII because many of our brave soldiers lost the use of one of their eyes in conflict. See how the AyA 4/53 you purchased works out. If you can do a live fire "impact test" at a steel patterning plate, you should be able to gather some good data. For every 1" you shoot left of your target at 16 yards, the stock needs to be bent a 1/16" the opposite direction. Thus if you are still shooting 8" left, bending the stock 1/2" more will correct the point of impact to 50% left & 50% right. From a technique standpoint, the firmer your gunmount under your cheek bone, the better. Two other thoughts for consideration: the stock could be dished out with a wood rasp and file, then refinished and lastly you could install a Graco adjustable comb and move the stock over even more. Not really pretty options, but options none the less. that we have also spoken over the phone, I think that you are on the right track. As mentioned, I will be happy to help you any way possible. Thank you for your business and support. Best Wishes & Good Luck, Bryan Bilinski P.S. If all else fails, consider trying the "cross-over" option. I could ship the Webley & Scott Model 700 out for you to try for a week or so. You can view the gun on our web site under the # C 4078.

I am new to trap shooting. I purchased a new o/u 12 gauge. Hitting 62% consistently. Patterned gun on paper and was shooting 80% below P.O.A. Going to add a comb hight adjustment kit. My question is, with raising eye sightline, I will not be looking on a flat plane with the rib, but at a slightly higher angle. Should this correct my problem and not cause any others?

Dear J. Martin, In theory, raising your eye alignment will make you shoot higher. Installing a Graco type adjustable comb will give you lots of options in order to improve your "point of impact" in order to compensate for the normal rise of a trap target. All things considered equal, I would also recommend you test the barrel regulation of your trap gun to make sure the barrel itself patterns at least 50% high & 50% low and 50% left & 50% right at 16 yards. The best eye alignment will not naturally fix a barrel or barrels that do not also shoot to a perfect point of impact. Once you have confidence that you shoot high enough to compensate for the rising trap targets, you should only need to concentrate on the "left or right side leads" you need for the typical quartering angles seen on the trap range. I hope this information helps you, however should you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to call me at FIELDSPORT at 231-933-0767. Best Wishes & Good Shooting, Bryan Bilinski

I have sx3 red performance 30 inch im 6 foot 82 kg my gun is shooting 1 foot above poa could you recommend anything, I am right handed?
from uk, Thanks

Dear Mr. Carr,
Sorry for the delay in responding to your e-mail regarding the negative gun fit issues you are having with your gun.
From your note to me, it appears that you own a Winchester SX3 12 ga semi-auto with a 30\" barrel. To try and shoot a shotgun that shoots 12\" high at 16 yards is near impossible unless you only use it for regulation Trap. Even then, 12\" is still quite excessive.
From my gun fitting prospective, your pupil alignment must be @ 3/4\" to 1\" over the top of the rib to shoot that high. If you can lower the drop at face at least 3/4\", your point of impact should come down to 60% high & 40% low...or 2\" high @ 16 yards. If the stock has a shim system, use the lowest shim offered. If not, then a competent stock maker or gunsmith can lower the drop at face by re-heading the stock to the action. In addition, if the stock is too short for you, the problem will be magnified by the fact that your face is very close to the comb nose and therefore excessively high over the action and level rib height.
The other major concern is the barrel regulation of the gun. If the barrel shoots 12\" or a foot high, lowering your eye alignment will not have the same benefit. Have a few friends test the barrel regulation for you before you rule that problem out.
I hope this information is of benefit to you...however if you have any other questions or concerns, please don\'t hesitate to contact me via this e-mail address...
Thank You & Good Shooting,
\"Dr. Shotgun\"

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