People get very anxious about gun recoil - and it puts a lot of would-be shooters off the sport, which is a shame as it is manageable if you know how. Here are some tips from Sporting Gun editor, Matt Clark

  1. Many shooters consider that a 20-bore has less recoil than a 12-bore but in fact, the recoil depends on the cartridge load being used and the weight of the gun. Having a light 20-bore and a heavy load, like a 28 or 32 gram cartridge will result in stronger recoil than shooting a heavy 12-bore with a 24 or 28 gram load.
  2. The length of stock is said to affect gun recoil. If the stock is the wrong size for you it can hurt your shoulder or cheek, so the fit of the stock is important for comfort. If you’re having this problem, then go to a gun fitter or a gunsmith to have it checked and altered if necessary. This is important to think about with young Guns who may have inherited a gun or grown since getting a shotgun.
  3. Some people think shotgun recoil pads help – and others don’t. Best to try it and see for yourself.
  4. Think about what you are wearing. You can have a gel pad inserted into a shooting vest (and held in place with velcro). It’s good for absorbing the recoil of a shot when you are lightly clothed.
  5. Low recoil cartridges are designed to be gentler on the shoulder.  Some hit the target a split second slower, which makes some people say (wrongly) that you are more likely to miss, but in fact the time difference is so minimal that’s rubbish. The spread of shot is about the size of a dinner plate anyway, so a fraction of a second makes no difference.
  6. Consider shooting with a semi-automatic. People use this because the recoil is absorbed by the action of the gun – the recoil effectively re-cocks the gun. Certainly worth a try if you’re bothered by recoil, it could revolutionise the way you see shooting!
young female Gun

Recoil bruises my face!

I have a Browning B325. It's a big improvement on the Spanish over-under I had, except I'm constantly getting bruised…

What you’ve learned from this:

    • A 12-bore with a 28 gram load will have less kick than a 20-bore with a 32 gram load
    • Have your stock checked for fit
    • Try using gel pads in your shooting vest, or shotgun recoil pads on your gun
    • Consider shooting with a semi-auto
    • Low recoil cartridges may help