Friday, November 6, 2009

Shotguns and Adjustments.. Too much of a good thing?

The fit of a firearm with a front bead only.. Where the eye is the rear sight, creates a conundrum, and no end to problems for target shooters and hunters alike..
The ideal situation is for the shotgun to fit properly to begin with, but this can be as elusive as the search for the Holy Grail..
Hence, the advent of adjustable combs, adjustable rigs, devices to adjust length of pull, pitch, cant and even sliding triggers. Complete buttstocks made up of aluminum tubing, springs, rods and enough Allen setscrews to make the fitter resort to a 20 page manual.
For dedicated clay target guns, a case could be made for the usefulness, weight and complexity of these add-ons, although a properly fitted gun should negate the plusses. In the field however, I just see it all as so much nonsense.
Once a shooter finds the "sweet spot" on his adjustable stock, the settings should be left alone.. And here enters the rub, and where too many variables are just too much!
The shooter is going along fine with his whiz-bang adjustable stock.. He's found the dimensions that suit him, and is breaking his targets with authority! Everything is well... Or is it?? What about the day that shooter misses a target he always kills?? He starts to think, ride birds, and measure.. The wheels are falling off rapidly! Perhaps that stock the he thought was right, is NOT right after all! Maybe a little tweak is in order to put things right again?? Maybe an extra 1/8 inch of LOP will save the day?? Maybe a little off the comb?? The problems start, and start to compound!
I witnessed this very scenario recently, as a well intentioned shooter attempted to help a fellow club member regain his usual target killing ability.. Out came the rusty pliers and Allen wrenches to alter the metallic maze of a buttstock that probably cost more that some of the guns in my cabinet.. Making minute changes that don't mean a hill o' beans in the first place! All I could do is look on in amazement.. and horror at the rusty pliers!
When it comes to field guns, the adjustments might be fewer, but in my opinion, the end result is worse. What field gun needs more weight in the butt? In my experience, it's quite the opposite. But I see adjustable combs and LOP systems showing up in the field. Wouldn't a classic stock that actually fit in the first place be so much better?? Wouldn't 95% of shooters in general be better served by a gun fitting than a myriad of screws and sliding combs?

When will we ever learn that we're human and not machines? When will we learn that a missed target is due more to the loss of concentration, rather than mechanical failure?

Maybe I'm getting older and more accepting of my shortcomings.. Or maybe I've just gotten wise enough to know that a change of 1/8 inch in any dimension just doesn't amount to the proverbial hill of beans, and is not going to change us from an also-ran to a champion... On the range, or in the field..

Enjoy the weekend!

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