The Midwest Shooting School

featuring Shotgunning Instruction by Patrick LaBoone


“A well-fitted gun is a magical thing... it almost ceases to exist as a separate entity, and becomes a part of you....” 

 -- Patrick LaBoone

Topics to be covered here:

Why have your guns fitted?

How to arrange a fitting with me...

What to expect in a fitting session...

What to bring along...

What does it cost?

Why have your guns fitted?

• to relieve discomfort

• to shoot more accurately

• to obtain measurements for a custom stock

... to relieve discomfort

Shooting shouldn’t be painful, and a properly fitted gun can do a tremendous amount to minimize perceived recoil. A perfect fit can also alleviate the awkwardness we all feel when we find a gun hard to move or mount consistently. shoot more accurately and effectively

Serious shooters, whether competitors or hunters, need to have guns that shoot honest and true. In other words, you need a gun “shoots where you look”, or where you are trying to point, without requiring you to take the time to visually check it alignment and force it into place. The advantages of this becomes most apparent at longer ranges, and with unpredictable targets.

This “honest shooting” gun is obviously critical in game shooting, sporting clays and international skeet, where the gun starts in an unmounted ready position, and the target presentations are varied. In subtler way, it is also important in the mounted gun sports. In the latter, a perfectly fitted gun makes long-term repetition easier, especially late in events when fatigue becomes a factor. This is important, because in these sports, perfect scores are reasonable goals.

In both down-gun and mounted-gun shooting, a perfect fit also improves the accuracy and timing of your second shot fired. The recoil of the first shot simply moves the gun away from “home” less dramatically with a great fit, and the well-fitted gun returns more readily to “home” than a poorly fitted gun.

This cannot be the case unless a gun is fitted such that the easiest place for the gun to mount is also the right place. 

... to obtain measurements for custom stocks, or custom guns

Custom work is expensive and takes time... Gun owners who go to the trouble of ordering a custom stock, or custom gun, usually do so with the hope that it will perform better than what it is replacing.

Whether you are ordering custom work as a gun fancier, game shooter, or competitor, if the gun is going to be used, it should complement your physical characteristics, shooting style and taste. If it does not, it is just a piece of art without individual character or history.

To obtain the benefits desired when ordering a custom gun or stock, measurements need to be carefully determined that take into consideration the nature of the shooter, the finished gun, and it intended use. Please realize that different guns may require slightly by significantly different dimensions to achieve similar feel and performance--measurements that work splendidly for one gun may be less than ideal for another! Gun weight, balance and regulation of the barrels all play a role!

How to arrange a fitting with me....

Fittings can be arranged here at the school, or while I’m on the road teaching. At home, I have the advantages of total control over target presentations, an ideal pattern board, and all the tools and machines necessary for stock alterations. When necessary, I do travel with a set of tools that allow me to make many alterations in the field... We will just need to find a convenient location where we can shoot a selection of targets, do some patterning on cardboard, and preferably have access to electricity for my power tools.

A fitting can be arranged with a simple phone call... if it is inconvenient to come here, inquire about where my upcoming trips will take me, One of these locations may be more convenient for you. If you are serious about it, money is not a consideration, and timing is important, I can make a special trip to accomplish your fitting.

If you have signed up for one of my advertised schools, open to the public, you can arrange for a fitting immediately prior to or after the school. (Minor alterations are quickly made during the regular school, but I try not to take away shooting time from other shooters.) On occasion, I will do alterations after hours, during a multi-day school.

If you have arranged for a private school, fitting and alterations can be done during normal school hours, as part of the school package, at your request.

What to expect in a fitting session...

Fittings are arranged on a case-by-case basis, with a two hour minimum.

You will be evaluated in three different situations:

1. Dry, or practice mounting, indoors or out;

2. On a pattern board; and

3. In the field, shooting a selected variety of target presentations.

The three evaluating situations are listed in order of increasing importance! Shooting style has a great deal to do with how a gun fits you, or in a less than ideal case, how you fit yourself to a particular gun. Most individuals move and mount differently when practice mounting, shooting the pattern plate, and shooting in the field. Ultimately, what happens in the field is most important. You can expect to shoot a hundred targets or so during your evaluation.

The two hour minimum describes a fitting that goes without complications. At the end of the session, you will have a set of measurements to shop for, or build a stock to, and/or a set of instructions for modifying your existing gun. Very minor modifications may be accomplished in this time frame.

More time may be required if major stock adjustments or reshaping are done on the spot. Ideally, we will “shoot the stock in”, altering it on site, so that it is perfectly fitted to your face and build.

What to bring along....

In addition to the gun or guns you want evaluated or fitted, be sure to bring your choke tubes and stock shims if your gun is so equipped. Tight chokes are handy for fitting purposes. Please bring along plenty of shells (150 or so, 8 shot preferred), or be prepared to buy ammo here!

Appropriate shooting clothing makes sense--avoid baggy-sleeved tops... eye and ear protection is required, and is available here, if necessary.

Visit The Shotgunners’ Notebook for more discussions about fitting your shotgun and related topics...