Which gun? Well, that depends


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Recoil…And how to tame it!

by: Joe Rankin

I work with lots of shooting students and many of them are fairly new to the game. Very often, they show up for lessons with heavy recoiling shells due to more shot than necessary or being very fast. Both of these factors contribute to increased recoil. There is another factor that determines the amount of recoil delivered to the shooter. That is the weight of the gun itself. So, in summary, there are three factors that effect recoil:

• Weight of the shot charge
• Speed of the shot charge
• Weight of the gun

I strongly suggest that clay target shooters use 1 ounce shells in 12 gauge. Pattern tests have proven that in many (or most) guns, there will actually be more shot in the pattern with 1 ounce loads than with 11/8 ounce. That is due to the fact that fewer pellets are deformed & therefore stay in the pattern longer. You might do some pattern work to determine how your combination performs.

The second factor is the speed of the shot charge. There is no need to shoot lightening fast shotshells. The faster the shell, the more recoil you’ll experience. Look for shells in the 1145 – 1200 FPS range. That’s fast enough for any target out there. You’ll enjoy shooting more & hit more targets in the process. Here's a good tip for you. Two of the largest US manufacturers of quality shotshells call their shells Super Sports or Sporting Clays loads...they kick like a mule even in 1 ounce loads. Buy the slower shells...you'll be glad you did!

The third factor relating to recoil is the weight of the gun. It’s true that a heavier gun absorbs more recoil, but a gun that’s too heavy won’t handle well & will be difficult to shoot. My preference is an over & under shotgun that weights about 8.5 pounds. Most autoloaders weight 8 pounds or less. One benefit of the autoloading gas guns is that recoil is spread out over a longer period of time & is often perceived by the shooter to have less recoil than the over & under shotguns.

So, let’s find some light loads at a reasonable speed & shoot them in a proper shotgun to get the most out of our shooting experience.

Have fun out there!



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