A new shooter wonders how to stop recoil bruising.

Q: I took up shooting with my boyfriend 18 months ago. I started with a Miroku Sporter but found the recoil too painful and suffered recoil bruises to my lower shoulder. I now use a semi-auto which has helped a little, but I would like to go back to the over-and-under. Would it stop the bruising if I had it fitted with a recoil pad?

A: John says: A decent recoil pad or recoil reduction system would almost certainly help ease the pain, but first you need to discover what’s wrong with the stock you shoot with.

From what you’ve said I would put money on it not having enough cast at toe to sit comfortably above your breast, and seat properly into your shoulder pocket. In other words the toe of the stock needs to be turned (or cast) outward to keep it clear of the breast. This work can easily be done by a gunsmith who will also round off the stock’s heel to make it easier to mount the gun smoothly and properly.

And another question about recoil bruising  …

Q: As a lady, should I use a 12-bore to reduce recoil? I’ve spoken to other women who shoot and they use heavier 12-bores to get over the problem. Trouble is, my husband won’t listen to me changing guns because, he says, the 20 is a lady’s gun. What do you think?

A: John says:  12 and a 20-bore are pretty much identical when it comes to performance but the lighter gun can tend to recoil a little more with 28gm competition cartridges. This might not be too much of a problem on a game shoot but the effects do become noticeable if a fair number of cartridges are fired in quick succession, as at a clay shoot.

What you need to remember is that recoil doesn’t have to be excessive to bring about a drop in performance, missed targets and tiredness. The cumulative effect of firing 100 cartridges even with ‘average’ levels of recoil in a day will produce the same result. In really bad cases recoil can also cause a shooter to start flinching and create triggering troubles.

Despite what your husband might say, a slightly heavier 12-bore will help protect you from the evils of recoil and probably bring about improved scores along the way. Just make sure the gun is stocked to the correct length and has sufficient cast at toe to avoid bruising.