It’s not because you’re a sissy. Well, not entirely because you’re a sissy.
Proper training and practice can improve your shot, and your comfort.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever come home from the clays range with a Technicolor bruise extending from your shoulder to the crook of your elbow, or a nice shiner on your cheek. I don’t see any hands, so I’m going to assume that you just got back from a round of skeet and now you can’t lift your arm past the shoulder. Why does your shotgun keep taking you out behind the woodshed? Here’s why:
1) Your shotgun is too big for you.
Even help from a friend can’t save you from a shotgun that’s too big.
When it comes to shotguns, fit is crucial—and as my high-school girlfriend insisted, too big is actually worse than too small. (I should call her, see how she’s doing…) Gun manufacturers do their best by designing guns for the “average” user, which is generally assumed to be about 5’9”. If you’re much shorter than that, it’s going to be tough for you to get the shotgun appropriately seated against your shoulder and cheek. That’s a problem because…
2) There’s too much air between your body and the stock.
If your cheek is too high above the butt stock, you are in for a hurting.
It’s intuitive when you think about it—which would hurt more, having someone kick you, or having them put their foot on you and shove? If your shotgun isn’t snugged right into your shoulder pocket and face, the recoil will indeed “kick” you. If you’ve got a solid cheekweld, it’s much more like a shove.
3) You’re using more shotgun than you really need.
Bigger isn’t always better.
“Use enough gun” is the mantra of gun enthusiasts everywhere, and for good reason. But if you’re talking about casual clays shooting, you don’t necessarily need a 12-gauge. The 20-gauge offers almost as much knockdown power and a very similar pellet spread pattern…with much less perceived recoil.
4) You haven’t put a suppressor on it.
Shotgun suppressors are all the quiet rage lately.
Did you just get a mental image of Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men, toting that suppressed Remington 11-80 around? Although there really weren’t any shotgun suppressors on the market when that movie came out, there are now…and the reduction in both report and recoil they offer is truly a thing of beauty. (Not as beautiful as Chigurh’s bowl cut, but what is?) Sadly, it appears the Hearing Protection Act is down for the count and, therefore, suppressors are still being treated as if they were full-auto machine guns. However, if you’re willing to jump through some legal hoops, you can purchase one…here’s how.