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A Slap in the Face!

Updated: Aug 16, 2022

A Slap in the Face!

Question:  “I have recently begun to get a bruise on my cheek from the recoil of my new gun. I am a mid-level shooter, have a smooth move and mount, but probably once per 25 rounds I will feel myself getting whacked. I have had lessons from two Level III instructors. Both began each session by checking gun fit and eye dominance. Each agreed that my fit is great. Can you help me?”

My guess is that one of two things (or a combination of the two) is happening:

1) Your cheek may not be in contact with the comb of the stock during shot execution, thus the comb may be impacting your cheek as the shot is executed and the recoil causes the gun to jump into your cheek. I’m not an advocate of cramming the shotgun into the shoulder and the face down onto the comb, but some contact is needed to avoid having the gun bounce into the shoulder and cheek.

2) Your shotgun may not have enough pitch. Pitch is expressed in degrees of angle. It is the angle of the butt pad as compared to an imaginary line that runs perpendicular to the barrel rib off the back of the gun. Most off-the-shelf guns have a positive pitch of about 4 degrees, meaning that the butt is angled with the toe a bit closer to the front of the gun (angled away from the shooter) as compared to the heel. This slight angle of the toe away from the shooter allows the gun to fit more evenly and comfortably against the chest of the shooter. It also allows the recoil from the gun to be more evenly spread across the entire butt pad.

Everyone is built differently, so some may need a bit more or a bit less pitch. Weightlifters and ladies tend to need a bit more pitch than others. If a gun does not have enough pitch for the shooter, it might cause the toe of the butt to absorb more of the recoil than the heel, resulting in excess muzzle jump. In this case, when the shot is executed, the excessive upward movement of the gun may cause the comb of the stock to impact the face with a bit more punch than is ideal.

First, make sure your lower cheek ledge is in good contact with the comb through your shot execution.  Shooters often can’t tell when they are missing the cheek with the gun, so have a buddy take a few close-up videos of you shooting your gun. If this doesn’t reveal anything, you might want to have a good gun fitter check the pitch on your gun and watch you shoot.

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