GUNSMITHING: Why ladies shouldn’t just shoot a man’s gun
Jonny looks at the art of the ladies’ gun, and how the old-school ‘hack it down and cast it over’ method has been replaced by custom-built beauties designed and crafted for women
As a man in the shooting world, there are many guns available to me; and as a tall man, there are options to extend many of these factory stocks. However, for many years, a ladies’ gun was just one of these men’s guns, hacked down and bent over to make the best of the situation. Until recent years, short of having a gun custom made for you, this was the only viable option.
Today, in 2017, the female shooter, or ‘lady Gun’, is a much more common sight, with inspirational figures such as Amber Hill and Becky McKenzie in the competitive shooting world, and many lady Guns on social media who are generally adored by the masses. These heroines are paving the way to a sport where ladies are not just accepted, but revered!
OK, enough of the mushy lady love, and now on to the point of this article. Although perhaps not overly gunsmith related, it is something that we have been busy with these past few months, and it has been brought to the forefront of my mind. The honest truth about ladies’ guns should be brought to the old school ‘hack it down and cast it over’ brigade.
Men are from mars
Firstly, some observations in the less than subtle differences between the male and female form. Please excuse any generalisations that may cause offence – I promise you they are not intended in this manner, and I do acknowledge that this is only true in the broad sense: Ladies are generally shorter than men. Ladies generally have a different chest configuration than men.
Ladies generally have higher cheekbones than men.
Ladies generally have a longer neck/height ratio than men.
Ladies generally have more defined cheekbones than men.
If these factors are generally considered true, then a lady’s gun cannot in fact be anything like a man’s gun. To suit all factors a gun would need to be shorter in the stock, with a different pitch. The gun would need both a higher comb to allow for higher cheekbones, and yet more drop to allow for the more elegant neck. The gun would also need to have more cast than a man’s.
Luckily for us, such a stock exists, and, with well-chosen measurements, will fit many ladies out of the box; this is the Monte Carlo-style stock.
Finally, and after many years of necessity, the major manufacturers are now producing ladies’ guns, most notably the Beretta Vittoria, the Caesar Guerini Syren range, the Fabarm Elos Syren and the Perazzi Ladies Sporter. These
‘Many lady Guns on social media are paving the way to a sport where ladies are not just accepted, but revered’
beautiful things are available from as little as £1,400 for a gun specifically designed for ladies, which should require very little fitting.
This same Monte Carlo effect can be had by fitting an adjustable comb to a gun with very low measurements, or fitting an adjustable butt pad to a gun with a very high comb, or even a combination of both. This can perhaps be achieved for less money than a new ladies’ gun; however, I am confident that ladies’ guns will only become more affordable as we move forward with the sport.
Does size really matter?
Twelve-bore or 20-bore matters less as a choice when a gun fits properly, and we find we sell both in equal measures. Twenty can be the gateway to 12 for many, but with modern cartridges the choice has less bearing on the shooter’s performance than ever before. Trying both with ladies’ fit stocks is advisable in the process of choosing a gun.
The problem we find here, as do most gun shops, is the lack of commitment when a lady buys her first gun. This can be for many reasons: she must share it with another member of the family and so the fit for her doesn’t matter; she is just starting out so doesn’t think that fit matters; she is being bought the gun by someone who really wants a gun for themselves; or, finally, the budget isn’t there (probably because the budget has been severely diminished by their male counterpart’s top-end shotgun).
This leads to lower scores and generally a poor hit rate, which is nothing to do with skill but rather is down to poor gun fit. From experience, men are very happy to go and shoot. We occasionally worry about our scores or ability but we really go to make noise, spend time with friends, and so we can say that we do a sport (even if our heart rate never gets above resting), and we shall continue to go, never getting tired of pulling the trigger. Women are quite different! Many women, if they are not seeing an improvement at the start or are not shooting at a satisfactory level, will cease shooting. Please just bear this in mind when starting your other half off on your hefty sporter that will kick her like a mule; or please, ladies, bear this in mind when making your first purchase or taking your first lesson. If one lady (or man, or child) gives up due to poor gun choice or gun fit, it is another lost from our sport; one who will be unlikely to take the sport up again. This is not how to nurture the future of our sport, and I believe ladies should play a large part in that future.
With this discourse over, I promise to return to an in-depth gunsmithing technique article next month, but I couldn’t sleep easy without getting this off my chest.
Challenging the misconceptions of shooting being for country gents, more and more women are getting into the sport – something we heartily celebrate – meaning there is more choice of guns made for ladies
Becky McKenzie holds all-female workshops to help women move into competitive FITASC shooting
Amber Hill sets a fantastic example to young people on social media
Many women are smaller in stature than men with higher, more defined cheekbones; of course, this is a generalisation and won’t apply to every lady!
Cheryl Hall has proved that women can more than hold their own when it comes to shooting