Swinging a Tree?

Question: “I’m a senior super veteran sporting clays shooter and my o/u shotgun weighs about 10 lbs. At times halfway through a hundred targets my gun starts to feels slightly sluggish in my move to particular targets. Would I benefit from a lighter gun and if so, what would be a suggested weight?

A: Wow. 10-pounds? I wouldn’t want to be swinging that tree! What you are feeling is a lack of “maneuverability”. Weight and balance are the two elements of a shotgun’s maneuverability. What’s the ideal weight? This is highly individualized, however, I talk to many 50+ year-old shooters with 9+ pound guns looking for something lighter.

If you are shooting a shotgun that’s too heavy, you will feel fatigue in the small muscles of the arms and larger muscles at the top of the shoulders. However, weight reduces felt recoil. The lighter your shotgun, the more recoil you will feel, resulting in muscle fatigue at the front of the shooting shoulder and pain in the center of the back between the shoulder blades.

The ideal weight for you will depend on your upper body strength and endurance, as well as your sensitivity to recoil. What about balance? A shotgun’s balance is determined by how the shotgun’s weight is distributed from heel to muzzle. When the weight is more evenly distributed and balanced between the hands, you will fatigue less quickly than with a shotgun with a lot more weight at the receiver or at either end of the shotgun.

I am 58 years old and have lost a bit of upper-body muscle mass. My Perazzi is 8 pounds 11 ounces and started to feel a bit heavy after about 250 rounds in practice. Lately I’ve been shooting a 7-pound 13-ounce Purdey high-pheasant gun (not the Purdey Sporting Clays Gun). My lighter Purdey moves REALLY WELL, but is not intended for high-volume shooting. I noticed a little sensitivity in my shooting shoulder the day after practice. Since both my Perazzi and my Purdey are exceptionally well balanced, the “suggested weight” for me is probably in the 8-pounds 4-ounce to 8-pounds 8-ounce range which is exactly what my new Purdey Sporting Clays Shotgun will weigh when it arrives! You need to determine the ideal weight and balance for you because every shooter is different and the ideal weight will vary from shooter to shooter.

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