Shotgun fit.


Dec 13, 2013
A few months ago I learned of an outfit called Upland Gun Company. They import Italian made side by sides and over unders starting at a little under 3K on the side by sides. I started investigating because I love good side sides but struggle with them as most are either neutral or have cast off for a right handed shooter. Basically I shoot 75% with a side by side on the range and little worse in the field Where foot work and balance is often lacking. With my left handed Benelli I shoot about 85% in the field. Im a bit of a hack with a shotgun and tend to aim them instead of pointing.
What intrigued me about Upland Gun Company is you select every feature, from barrel length, to single or double triggers, left or right hand stocking, finish, accents and stock dimensions. Some of the features are add-on. Wood grade, single triggers, interchangeable cokes for example. Left hand stocking is listed as an add on cost. I negotiated on that. Having the stock shaped to your dimensions is not an add on cost.
I had no idea what my dimensions are. Thought I was about 14.5 inches length of pull and knew I needed cast on to the stock as I’m left handed. Other than that, No clue. This morning I drove 2 1/2 hours from my home to Caldwell Idaho and met with a shotgun fitter who has been certified, I was thinking anointed by the end of the day, by British gun makers as having been trained up in the art of gun fitting. We spent an hour learning to correctly mount the gun. What was really interesting and worthy of an hour or two writing, was how closely tied to the various martial arts I was involved in this process was. In any event, every few minutes he was making adjustments to the gun. Then after about 20 proper mounts he went through and adjust the gun again.
Then we went out on the sporting clay’s course. I have shot sporting clays exactly one time prior. I was crushing the birds. I honestly told him I had no idea how I was hitting the birds, it was just happening. His response was “thats what happens when your gun fits” Then we started in on more difficult presentations. If I didn’t try to think about it I would hit, think too much I’d miss. A few more tweaks and some instruction it started coming together on report pairs, started hitting the ones I had been missing. Then it dawned on me, when I was hitting I had no recollection if I was seeing the rib or not or seeing the bead or not. Pick up the bird in my perifial vision mount, engage, hard focus and through the bird and shoot. Easy peasy.
If you’re interested in double guns, take a look at Upland Gun Company. If you’re going to buy one set up an afternoon with Joel Loftis and learn what gun fitting is all about. Thought I had a picture of the Try Gun but it’s not showing up or my final fitting sheet.
Best case my shotgun will be here in September, just in time for upland seasons.
My length of pull is 14 7/16, according to Joel not any longer at all.


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That's pretty cool Don. Are you getting a 12 or 20 ga?

I ordered a 12, a couple of the guys at upland tried to talk me into a 20 but I’ve always done better with a 12. After the gun fitting session I’m thinking I should have ordered a 20 as I was shooting that try gun pretty well. See if the attachment worked. I ordered the Zeuss with a straight or English stock. Found a picture of the Try gun. Everything about the rear stock of the gun can be manipulated, so that the barrel lines up with your dominant eye. I’ve had thousands of hours of rifle and pistol training, going back to 6 years old. Never had any instruction in shotgun shooting from some one who was actually qualified. This adventure was one of the best days I’ve had in quite a while, and I always came home with birds when I was upland hunting. Those damn chukar are in trouble next fall!


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That should be a nice piece to add to your collection.
I never had any formal training with a shot gun either and started shooting with my Grandfathers single shot New England 12ga. I would fill soda cans with rocks and throw them up in the air holding the gun in my left hand and shoot at them. I got to the point that I didn't miss too often. Dad bought me a Stevens pump 12ga and I thought I was in seventh heaven. I actually shot it so much I wore it out shooting Quail, Pheasants, rabbits and squirrels.
Even though he is really close to me I might have to make a contraption like that to try. I have a shop full of CNC machines so I'm sure I could figure something out. I've always felt my stock fit isn't perfect with my Benelli SBE3's (28, 20, and 12ga) and Retay Masai Mara (20ga). I shoot instinctively, I don't "aim". The gun comes to my shoulder and basically points where I'm looking. I literally don't look at the beads when I shoot, I focus on the bird. It just seems like they are off slightly. My hit percentage is decent but not spectacular like it was with my SBE2. Some "tracer" shells would be cool to be able to tell where your shots are going. Something like sparkling shot buffer so you can see it.
The way you shoot instinctively is as I learned what makes stock fitting work. The eye is focused on the bird and only vaguely aware of the bead. It's as if you're pointing your finger at the bird.
Always amazing when instructed by someone with real skill and talent!
Congrats on the worthwhile investment in time, effort and money!
I'm sure you will be rewarded handsomely with a fine firearm that will bring many a bird to hand in the coming years...and I bet the smile never leaves your face with your pending success!
The way you shoot instinctively is as I learned what makes stock fitting work. The eye is focused on the bird and only vaguely aware of the bead. It's as if you're pointing your finger at the bird.
I never did a fitting session. I have noticed over the years that my shooting is mediocre with some shotguns. Pick up a different one - and wow! It's magic. Suddenly I'm hitting very well.

The one that surprised me the most was the semi-auto Beretta A 390. Big, black, ugly gun. Synthetic stock. Aluminum receiver. I didn't want to like it. First hunt with it was for quail with my buddy who usually out-shot me with the shotgun. Oh, not that day! After I'd dropped two birds from a flushing covey - he looked at me and said "You don't shoot that well." Apparently I do with the Beretta. It's magic I tell you. I don't want to like that gun. It's ugly. But goodness it shoots for me!

I don't know nearly as much as you learned with your fitting session - but some doggone Italian designed a shotgun just for me apparently... :)

Precisely why when Im training my dogs on live birds I carry my Benelli. My affinity for doubles led me down this path. I bet I’ve owned and traded 10 or 12 of them and was only ever mediocre with any of them. This whole fitting thing better work.
I've only shot a Winchester 101 O/U reasonably well but that was years ago. Like you I've tried quite a few OU's and SxS's and never really shot any others worth a darn. I haven't owned any high end Benelli's, Beretta's, Browning's, etc but I've tried to talk myself into buying one several times. I actually won a lab puppy at a DU trap shoot shooting my dad's Browning BT-99 when I was in high school but it was a single shot. Now that I have a lab that isn't gun shy, and will have a Drahthaar puppy this weekend, my drive to upland bird hunt is back. That and my kids will be 12 and 13 this fall and they seem interested in bird hunting. My last 3 labs I got at 2, 2 and 6yo and all were gun shy. My youngest shot his first turkey Tuesday.

Wow the add on's take one of their O/U's well over 4k in a hurry. I hope it shoots for you as exceptional as it looks. I assume they adjust the stock to the specs on the fitting chart?

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Have fun with the new drahthaar, they are high energy and can be quite a handful, particularly in that first year. Incredibly strong hunting drive... I've owned German Wirehaired Pointers for about 10 years now, two different dogs and trained a third. They're pretty close to the same thing as a drahthaar - great general purpose dogs and wonderful for upland bird hunting.

Ya, shotguns, kids, dogs and birds... It's a great combo! :)

Great picture! Congratulations to your son, and to his mentor. And the pup you anticipate sounds like a winner.
My lab just turned 1 and she is a handful. I know pointers and males are usually worse but none of them are great until they get closer to 2. I take my dog for a walk and to play fetch every day it's not pouring rain. About the only time she is mellow like a old dog is after that walk. I've always hunted ducks with my buddy because he has a lab but he doesn't upland hunt. Without a dog pretty much all bird hunting is difficult. Now I'll have 2. I still need a name for the puppy.

Drahthaar puppy.jpgDrahthaar puppy 2.jpg