A great variety of heel-plates and recoil pads are used by sportsmen at the present time. The Piffard heel-plate, consisting of a soft rubber pad or cushion about half an inch in thickness, is popular. It is applied to the butt of the gun (after removal of the iron heel-plate), and is retained in position by a skeleton plate. The latter is attached to the stock by using one of the original screws, and in addition a small screw inserted near the toe of the heel-plate. The stock of the gun is not altered in any manner, and the original butt-plate can be reapplied at will. Experience has shown that, when using this contrivance, the effect of recoil has been greatly modified, and a charge of as much as 110 grains of powder, with 420 of lead, can be shot without discomfort.
The benefits accruing from the lessened recoil are: Beginners will not become "gun-shy," and contract the habit of flinching; increased accuracy from absence of flinching; target practice can be more continuously and efficiently carried on than is practicable without the elastic-plate, owing to the bruising and other injuries attendant on the use of the service cartridge; and, the powder charge for ammunition could be materially increased, thereby flattening the trajectory, and in other respects rendering the weapon more effective. It is evident that the use of this description of heel-plate insures greater safety and increased accuracy. The dropping of a loaded gun (cocked or half-cocked), butt downwards, on a stone or hard ground may result in breaking the point of the sear or one of the notches of the tumbler, causing a premature discharge. This heel-plate would diminish the force of the concussion and lessen the liability to accident. In repeating rifles, in which the cartridges are arranged in the magazine with the bullet of one pressing on the primer of the one in front of it, the dropping of the gun might cause an explosion in the magazine. The liability to this accident would be diminished by the use of the plate.
Practical marksmen have found that when using this heel-plate the butt of the rifle is retained in proper position against the arm with less exertion, the rubber not slipping from the arm as readily as the iron butt-plate. By a resolution of the directors of the National Rifle Association, the use of this heel-plate was permitted in all competitions held under their auspices. The Winters 1902 model leather-covered pneumatic recoil pad is made to fit any gun-stock, and is an absolute guard against bruised shoulders. The Rowley cheek pad is a simple and effective device to straighten any gunstock to the desired bend without the expensive method of steaming the same. It is easily put on and taken off again, and besides making a too crooked gun fit, protects the high polish and finish of a fine gun stock against scratches and dents. All these devices and many others, like the Heikes hand protector, are regarded as necessities by many sportsmen, and are in a measure comforts for various kinds of shooting.
Farrow, Edward S. American Small Arms; a Veritable Encyclopedia of Knowledge for Sportsmen and Military Men. New York: Bradford, 1904. Print.
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