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

Sporting Shooter - - Contents -

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

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