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"a custom fitted gun is the pre-requisite to achieving a shooter's full
potential" - chris batha
continued from previous page...

Q: What is a try gun?

A: The try-gun, invented by W.P. Jones in the 19th century, is a gun with a stock that can be adjusted for length, cast and bend or drop. When used in conjunction with the pattern plate it enables the fitter to make a series of alterations to achieve perfect fit. Once the fit is obtained at the pattern plate, the try gun can be shot on moving targets, where comfort and accuracy can be double-checked.
holding the try gun
Q: How are guns altered to make them fit?
A: Once accurate sets of measurements are taken from the try gun the measurements can be taken to a competent gunsmith. By using heat and oil - or, very rarely, steam - the gunsmith bends or shapes the gun to the desired dimensions, and the adding or reduction to the stock easily achieves length.


Q: What are the gunfitters’ measurements?
A: Drop: The measurement from a parallel line taken from the rib of the gun to the stock at the comb and heel.

Length: Taken from the trigger (the front one on a double triggered gun) to the end of the stock at heel, middle and toe.

Cast: taken from a vertical line through the center of the heel of the stock and measured against a straight edge from the rib, at the heel and toe. (A special tool called a “banjo” is usually used for this important measurement.)

side view fitting diagram
front view fitting diagram
Q: What are my cross-eyed dominance options?
A: If you are cross dominant, that is, you shoot off the shoulder opposite your dominant eye, you will need to close the dominant eye or obscure it in some way when shooting. A patch or an opaque lens on a pair of shooting glasses will do the job just fine. The failure to cover the dominant eye will result in your missing the target two to four feet to one side. If it is at all possible, you should learn to shoot off the shoulder of the dominant eye. If the desire is great, it is possible to convert successfully, even later in life.

This article first appeared under the title: “Good Fitting Guns are the First Place to Start” by Chris Batha, in “The Grouse Point Almanac”, Summer, 2002