Issue: 2015-11-12 PHOTO: wikipedia commons
You shouldn’t have to be an expert hunter to have a gun that fits you properly
Traditionally rifles and shotguns were only made in one size to fit an average sized adult and were always too big for women and young people. Some new hunters adapted to the oversize guns, but many became disillusioned due to recoil, poor balance and difficulty in lining up the sights.
Also, buying a left-handed gun has usually added 20 to 30 per cent to the price. This often caused lefties to use a right handed gun, which never fits very well, often causing an unpleasant – even painful – experience.
Recently firearms manufacturers did a major turn-around, producing a variety of long-guns in smaller sizes to meet the demand from women and youth hunters. They have also been able to bring the price down to the point where a reasonable quality, bolt-action rifle equipped with a scope can be purchased for between $300 and $500. These rifles are chambered in modern hunting cartridges suitable for varmints, small game and big game. These include .223s, 7mm-08, .270 Win.,308 Win, 30.06 and others.
The type of hunting and ability to deal with recoil – the kick as the gun goes off – are among the deciding factors of which cartridge to choose, but the 7mm-08 is good choice for Yukon hunting with the variety of ammunition locally available. These rifles come in right or left handed actions for about the same price.
Shotguns are also produced in smaller dimensions to meet the same market needs as the rifles. They are available in any of the standard shotgun bore sizes, but 10 or 12 gauge are tough on smaller people due to their shoulder punishing recoil. Twenty gauges are available, which are chambered to use either 3” or less punishing 2 ¾” shells and will do as well in the field as a 12 gauge with practice. There are also 28 gauge and .410 bore which are smaller yet with less recoil.
Whether rifle or shotgun, these firearms are designed for people of smaller stature, with shorter height and reach. Similar to the full sized guns, these guns are balanced well because they aren’t just cut down models, they are made for smaller people having shorter barrels at one end and shorter stocks on the other.
It is amazing how much better anyone can learn to shoot with a gun that fits. Their cheek fits the cheek-piece, their eye is the correct distance from the scope, the trigger is touched without reaching and the other (support) hand securely grasps the forend.
Recoil has spoiled the day for many novice shooters. Recoil is much more manageable with a gun that fits well because it can be held and supported properly. These guns will all come with a recoil pad, usually rubber, to soften the blow and these are easily replaced with a better pad if necessary.
A pad can be placed against the shooting shoulder for target practice or sighting-in. This softens the recoil and helps to prevent the new shooter from developing a flinch causing the target to be missed.
Locally, Hougen’s Sportslodge on Main Street in Whitehorse has a number of these rifles and shotguns on the rack with prices similar to prices in the south.