Coach Hour – How Cutting Your Gunstock Affects Your Mount – Aug 2015
Coaching Hour – Aug 2015 – EXCERPT
Many people have come to Gil over the years to have their shotguns “Ashed.” He loves to make people’s guns fit better for them, and in this Coaching Hour from August 2015, we discuss the advantages of it. If you’re interested in having Gil fit your gun, check out our Services page.
Gil: Brian [Brewton] came over and I looked at the gun twice. I watched him mount it. He didn’t mount it as consistently as I expected, but some people mount it differently on different things.
I was concerned a little bit about the length, but he liked the length. He’s shooting great, and I said I wasn’t going to change the length. I felt it was maybe an eighth to a quarter of an inch too short, but some people like short guns. I like short guns. I know Ken Davis at Holland & Holland kept telling me my gun was about three-eighths of an inch too short, but I could outshoot every instructor they had, including him and everybody at the schools when I was teaching for Holland & Holland.
I said, “Well, should I change it?” And he said, “Probably not. You’re a better shot than anybody here. I’ve seen you shoot a gun with a 12-and-a-half length of pull and at 17-and-a-half length of pull and hit targets better than all of us put together here. You probably should leave it alone.” I said “Okay.”
Anyway, I looked at it, put his gun in a vice and did my normal deal, cut it down nose to heel, moved the comb on or to the left for a left-handed shooter, went down into the stock about two and three-quarter inches, rolled everything back over to the new comb, then rounded that out on the left side of the face of the stock and set it a little bit, and put a piece of tape on it.
We went out and shot it, and on about the fifth shot, he said, “Wow.” We kept shooting it, and I think he had the same reaction that Jeff Wolfe had and quite a few others have had with this lower stock design. The gun mount is so much easier. You don’t have to be perfect with the gun mount anymore.
I talked to him yesterday and asked him about how his game was performing. He said, “My close game is impeccable, and I’m having to work a little bit on the long game.” He’s been doing that and it’s coming around.
I told him that I felt like when you make a stock change like that, your close game is the first place you realize it. You don’t have time to react, and when it’s right you just inkball targets, which is what he was doing. I felt like some of his problem with his longer game was with his stock like it was, his pictures were not reciprocal. And when I say “reciprocal,” I mean a left-to-right crosser at 40 miles an hour doesn’t take the same lead as a right-to-left crosser at 40 miles an hour because they’re only shooting just to the right and a little high.
So, he was having to make some lead changes that were necessary. In fact, when he used the old picture, it made him miss. He’s having to learn a new picture, and once his picture starts being the same on both sides, I think he’s going to a much easier time of it.
Have you practiced since I talked to you, Brian?
Brian Brewton: Yeah. And yesterday was different from today. Today was so much better. Like you’re saying, my lead picture on my left and right is beginning to look the same now.
Gil: Yeah. Okay. And your close game is still just inkballing?
Brian: Oh, yeah. I shot some sporting clays Sunday and I did well – extremely well. That part of the game has really improved dramatically.
Gil: Tell everybody on the line how forgiving the gun mount is now.
Brian: Oh, yeah. Before, I was having to really bear down to get into the gun. If I didn’t do that, I was not going to get the target. Now all I do is just bring it to my cheek and just pull the trigger. I’m no longer having to bear down into the gun at all. It is a soft mount. It’s so much more comfortable. I don’t have that rosy cheek at the end of the day, either. In the Marine Corps that was a rosy cheek. That was because of the way you had to shoot the M1s.
Gil: Yeah. So, the gun mount really is more forgiving?
Gil: That’s one of the big things that I’ve noticed in shooting this lower stock for the last five years, and it’s that I don’t have to be perfect with the mount, and I still inkball the target and everything looks the same.
Bob: Would you feel that would be the same with the high rib, Gil?
Gil: It could be. You’d have to talk to Shane Warnick or Ben Leonard about that. The thing that I like about the lower rib is that there’s a lot more barrel out there for me to play off of when I’m matching the speed.
With the high rib, you only have a sliver of a rib up there. The reason the high rib is an advantage in trap and going-away birds is because the higher your eye is above the barrel, the more your eyes see around the barrel. So, if you’re an advanced championship trap shooter, you hold your gun at the height of your break point and look through the barrel. When the bird comes out, you just move the gun over and cut the bird off. And you see around the barrel because of the high rib. That’s where the high rib came from.
Now, that said, the first year the high ribs came out, Kreighoff was the first one to have one, and they used their low rib stocks with a movable comb. The comb could then be adjusted about a sixteenth of an inch off of the base, and it would line up perfectly with the high rib.
After the first year, the engineers got involved and said, “Oh, no, we’ve got to have the same amount of drop on the high rib as we have on the low rib.” So now all the high rib stocks on all the guns are so high they can’t be adjusted low enough to where you see flat down the rib. Go figure.
You can ask Brian. I feel like they’re selling the high rib with the more erect facial position. And I think it’s a misnomer or a reaction to a sales pitch that the salespeople use. If the gun is a little bit too high for you on the stock, roll your head forward so that it lowers your eyes down to the plane of the barrel, and the barrel becomes flatter.
Well, if you roll your eyes forward, you can’t see. You can’t focus. So, that was their comeback to, “Oh, it’s too high.” Well, just roll your nose down. Pull your chin down and roll your head forward and your eyes will come down.
It’s like that baseball pitcher that used to focus through the top of his eyelids. If I was in debate class, I could make a good debate about how it would work, but the practicality is you can’t do that. You can ask Brian, and I know Vicki will tell you the same thing. With our stocks as low as they are, they’re the exact dimension as the original Remington 1100: one and a half, two and a half field dimensions. They’re that exact dimension, just about two inches dropped at the face.
With that stock, my head is as erect as it needs to be. When I mount the gun to my face, I’m looking as flat down that flat rib gun as I’ve ever looked before, with no mismounts. I don’t have to be perfect, and it’s just as simple as it can be. It’s just there.
Brian, is that what you feel?
Brian: Yes. I’m no longer seeing any rib of any sort, nor am I seeing the size of the barrel either.
Gil: So, there you have it. I don’t know how many pattern stocks I’ve had Neal Bauder make for me this past year, but he tells me he’s got enough work to go through the end of next year already, and I’ve got two more pattern stocks going out this week. So, Doss Bourgeois just came. We’re working on a pattern stock for him that’s almost identical to mine, and it’s just amazing what we’re learning.
In fact, I was at Brownells, the big gunsmith’s wholesaler. Frank Brownell bought a new Kreighoff K20, a $50,000 gun, and he told Dieter about it. Dieter said, “Well, I’ll have one of my guys to fit you.” And he said, “No. I’d like to have Gil Ash fit me.” And Dieter said, “I’m sure that Gil will be glad to do that.” I got up there last April, took my cheese grater in front of him and his top five gunsmiths, and I cut on that gunstock. And there was shredded wood on the floor like angel hair pasta all over.
And these gunsmiths were just about to shit. Man, I’m telling you. They were gasping. And when I got through with it, I took the gun out of the vice twice. “Nope, not enough yet.” When I got through with it, put a sander on it, and then sanded down the forearm like ours, it’s got a nice taper to it instead of that big, clunky Schnabel.
When I got through with it and Frank mounted it the first time, he said, “Holy cow. This is absolutely perfect. I could shoot this gun, and I’ve had guns fitted by the most famous gun fitters in the world, and this guy is the first guy that’s ever cut a gunstock that when I mount it, everything lines up and it’s perfect. I’ve never had a gun fitted like this.”
Bob: Brian, do you feel like basically the bottom of your cheekbone is just a light touch on the stock and you’re right there?
Brian: Yep. Yep, it is. It’s kind of weird because I’ve been so used to having to get into the gun so much, and now you just pull the trigger. It’s just so easy.
Gil: You know, Bob, the other thing that I’ve stumbled into in doing all this stuff is that whenever you’re having to shoot high tower shots, if the gun is the slightest bit too high, your mount must be absolutely 100 percent perfect. With a lower stock, it doesn’t matter.
Brian: Well, let me give you another little caveat to this. Since you don’t have to be in the gun so hard, guess what happens? Your forehand is now working so much better. You can feel the target so much better.
Gil: What a great point, Brian. Because the harder you need to be in the stock the more you’ve got to control the gun with the right arm and shoulder. Or left arm and shoulder for you, since
you’re left-handed. Is that what you’re saying?
Brian: That’s correct.
Gil: So, what this does is it frees the front hand up to drive the gun so much more efficiently.
Brian: Yeah. I got some real extremely quick shots, pairs, and you have to be real aggressive on the first one to even have a smidgen of a chance for the second one. And I did it on purpose to see how I would react with it. And I’m breaking the pair.
Bob: There’s no delay in that transition. No delay in pushing your face in. You’re right.
Gil: No. If somebody picks my gun up and rather than mounting to something, they mount it to their shoulder and they put their head down real hard, their eyes will be behind the receiver.
Bob: Oh, yeah. I agree with you a hundred percent.
Gil: But if you’re moving and mounting to the bird or ahead of the bird and watch the bird come, your brain is not going to let your eye go down below that receiver and lose sight of that bird.
Brian: That’s right.
Gil: There’s so much more forgiveness in cheek pressure. You can apply whatever you have to apply based on where the gun ended up on your shoulder, and everything is right. It’s just phenomenal.
And Bob, the next time I’m in Colorado, if you’d like me to, it won’t hurt me a bit to cut on your gun.
Bob: [Laughs] But I basically agree with you. I’ve been trying to get people to be soft in that cheek position and line up properly for a while now. Last year, year and a half I’ve really found a lot of people do much better if they just pay attention to that instead of trying to force their face down on the gun.
Gil: Yeah. But if the gun is too high, if they’re light on it, or and they’re shooting high left or high right, it defeats the purpose.
Bob: I agree, yeah.
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