Sporting Gun editor Matt Clark offers some tips to make things more comfortable

Gun recoil is responsible for putting many people off shooting. Which is a great pity as it can be comfortably managed and avoided if the shooter and gun fit together correctly.

For example, many people go off on a clayshooting introduction day – maybe as part of a work team-building exercise – and the gun they use isn’t fitted properly to them. Which results in a bruised face and somebody losing interest in ever taking up shooting.

To avoid this scenario and manage gun recoil, here’s what seasoned Gun Matt Clark advises.

Lady Gun

Gun fit is important for avoiding recoil issues

Does a 20-bore recoil less than a 12-bore?

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.

  1. 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. Gun recoil is thought to be affected by stock length. 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. Shooters experiencing this issue should make an appointment with a gun fitter or gunsmith who will check out the stock and change it if needed. If young Guns inherit a gun (or have grown since getting a shotgun) it’s important to check out gun fit so recoil doesn’t become an issue. 
  3. Some people think shotgun recoil pads help – and others don’t. See which camp you fall into by testing out recoil pads for yourself. 
  4. Consider your shooting clothing. You can have a gel pad inserted into a shooting vest (and held in place with velcro). The pad will absorb shot recoil when you’re wearing something lightweight, like a shirt. 
  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!

What you’ve learned from this:

    • Recoil depends on the cartridge load being used and the weight of the gun
    • 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