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Ask The Instructor: Trigger-To-Grip Length

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

Question: I have a problem with the gun going off before I want it to. An instructor told me I “choke up” on the gun. He said I tend to grip the shotgun too far up toward the receiver. I’m shorter than average and have a small hand. What should I do?

Answer: It sounds like you are shooting with a gun that has a “reach” or trigger-to-grip length that is too large for your hand. Trigger-to-grip length is the distance between the trigger and the end of the pistol grip of your stock. When this dimension is appropriate for you, your trigger finger easily reaches the trigger when you grip the shotgun naturally and the trigger meets the trigger finger approximately halfway between the end of the index finger and the first knuckle. If your gun’s reach is too long for you, you may need to choke up on the stock to reach the trigger. You might experience pain in your wrist and sometimes tendinitis.

Some shotguns are equipped with an adjustable trigger that can be moved forward or backward to adjust the trigger-to-grip length for a better fit. If yours does not, I recommend that you engage a gun fitter to determine whether or not your stock fits you properly. If it turns out that the trigger-to-grip length is too long, and your gun is not equipped with an adjustable trigger, then your options are limited to the following: 1) get fitted for a custom stock or custom gun, 2) purchase an adjustable stock like Ergosign Evocomp or TSK that offer adjustable stocks in a variety of grip sizes.

If you’re in the market for a new gun, several manufacturers offer guns with a variety of grip sizes and trigger-to-grip lengths. All Perazzis are customized to the purchaser’s dimensions at no extra charge. Zoli and Caesar Guerini offer custom stock options for an additional fee of about $1,250. Guerini also offers two models that come equipped with a shorter reach: the Summit Compact and Syren over-and-under shotguns, both with trigger-to-grip lengths that are ¾-inch shorter than the standard Summit Sporting.

Don Currie is NSCA’s Chief Instructor, an Orvis Wingshooting School instructor, and Master Class competitor. To get free shooting tips and videos, sign up for his monthly newsletter. You can also see more tips from Currie at

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