FINDING THE GUN TO FIT YOU
By J. M. HAWKINS
How simple a matter this appears to be to the inexperienced, yet what a problem it is even to the most expert wing shots! In fact I have never seen a shooter who was absolutely positive that his gun was a perfect fit. I have seen Fred Gilbert break 99 out of 100 targets and then go change guns if a little wind came up, saying the gun did not fit in the wind, and I have heard of our greatest shots, after making wonderful scores, say that their guns did not exactly fit.
How, then, about the novice who walks into a gun store to purchase a gun? He first looks over the guns. Then after recalling the gun the best-known local shot uses, he asks the clerk to show him this kind of a gun.
The customer takes it and looks at it, usually recalls someone saying that, to find if it would fit, put the stock butt in the crotch of the elbow and see if the finger rests on the trigger.
Very good logic for a field gun for it is not likely to catch in the coat when putting it to the shoulder, but that is as far as it goes toward fitting the customer. He puts the gun up to his shoulder, or, more frequently, to the muscle of his arm, and looks at the front sight and, if he can see it plainly by twisting the gun or his head, it fits. Oh, yes.
The novice takes the gun and the clerk shows him how to take it down, then sells him some shells with a heavy load, in most cases too heavy a charge for the gun, and out goes the pseudo Nimrod feeling that at least he has developed into a shooter and just a few shots will suffice to make an expert of him. Just a little of the proper instruction and advice would eradicate all this unnecessary danger but it is sometimes neglected and there he goes.
Is there any wonder we have accidents' Are there any who wonder why we should have accidents? All dealers should make it a point and really obligate themselves to set that every purchaser of a gun or rifle is either familiar with the arm or will receive the proper instruction. Then danger will be minimized.
As Topperwein usually tells those who witness his wonderful exhibitions, "It is just as necessary to learn to shoot as it is to swim/' and there is no doubt about it. Imagine a person who has never been in the water finding a deep body of water and jumping right in without more instructions than how to put on the bathing suit. The novice should never attempt to shoot a gun alone without first being coached in the fundamentals by some veteran shooter for several times. The advice of some veteran shooter should also be obtained when purchasing a gun.
An approximate fit is all the novice can expect. The basic principle is to bring the sights in alignment with the eye accurately and quickly. The shooting high or low of a gun is determined mainly by this manner in which the sights are adjusted or in which the rib is placed, in relation to the barrel. To illustrate this, take a front sight of 3/16" above the inside of barrel at muzzle, then by lowering the barrel, or raising the alignment at the breech or receiver, in other words the rear end of rib, you make the barrel point higher which naturally makes the gun shoot higher. Good shooting qualities the Savage single shot rifle was used. The muzzle portion was cut off with a hack saw, leaving twelve inches from muzzle to breech, about the length authorities claim to be scientifically correct for this caliber.
The straight gun is one, which is built with a high comb, which does not permit the eye to come down to the rear of the rib. Consequently the alignment is above the rear of rib; the barrel pointing high, thus the load has to go high. Many shooters govern this by their cheek, light pressure when desiring the load to go high and hard pressure when the load is to go low. The difficulty with this method is that it is very likely to cause crossfiring, and again, it is very unreliable when any of the numerous troublesome and varying light conditions or mirage are encountered.
The straight built gun is not much better than the above for the shooter is compelled to judge how far to hold under certain targets and is handicapped greatly in the above mentioned light conditions. This judgment or calculation in regard to the place to aim according to the flight of the target is minimized by having the stock made so that the eye comes in perfect alignment with the sights, the front sight being silhouetted between the shoulders or in the groove of the rear sight as the gun touches the cheek, and too much importance cannot be placed on this touch for when you can close your eyes and put your gun up and tell by this "touch of the cheek" that your eye is in perfect alignment with the sights, then you may, with reason, assume that your gun comes pretty close to fitting. The eye should photograph the position of the sights and never should the trigger be pulled until this position can be seen. In aiming this position should be held and the spot to aim decided upon the instant the target appears and the gun pushed to this spot without disturbing this position or alignment of sights. Your gun should fit so that you can hold this position of sights or alignment and secure it instantly, and with your eyes closed.
Care should be taken to have your stock for target shooting long enough so that, when mounting the gun to the shoulder and pointing it at an angle of 45 degrees above a line with the shoulder the fingers of the right hand are about 14 inches from the nose and the sights arc properly aligned.
Try this with your eyes closed before putting the gun up. Place the gun where you think it belongs upon your shoulder and put your face where you think it belongs upon the tomb keeping the eyes closed all the while. Then bring the gun down to a line with the shoulder and open your eyes. If you have the sights aligned your gun is at least a 90% fit, also you have the proper position and are ready to shoot.
Hunter-Trader-Trapper. October: 1921,
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