By Marissa Jensen Photo by Chad Love
Shoes. We all have them. Whether they’re a necessity or a luxury, I would be willing to bet you have a closet full. I’ve never fit into any traditional female roles, and for the most part, that has extended to matters of appearance. Make-up is a nuisance and what is hair product…conditioner?
But when it comes to shoes, even I fall victim. And unfortunately for my wallet, shotguns are the same.
If we’re being honest with ourselves, shouldn’t a girl have at least one gun for every occasion?
For instance, the first shotgun. This one’s a no brainer. There’s sentimental value… it stays.
Elegant side-by-side (or over-unders if that’s your thing) for those long meanderings through the field. Can’t you just imagine how great you’ll look standing atop a hill with that break-action slung over your shoulder, with the world below just begging to be explored? It’s a must-have.
The trusty semiautomatic; a terrific option for pursuing upland quarry and capable of making a seamless transition into the wetlands for waterfowl. A girl’s gotta have her options, right?
The hand-me-down or gifted shotgun laced with nostalgia. Mine happens to be a 12-gauge pump gifted from my father. I drool every time I look at the unique and elegant grain of its stock.
And just like shoes, regardless of the intended destination, once you strip down all the aesthetics, you find yourself holding your breath in hope as you dare to ask, “does it fit?”
A properly fitted shotgun is just as important as your pair of shoes. You’re likely familiar with the consequences of improperly fitted footwear. Now perhaps an ill-fitted firearm won’t leave unsightly blisters, however the performance expected from it will likely leave bruises on one’s expectations and ego.
I remember the first time I experienced the difference of a fitted shotgun on a walk through the uplands. Greeted with a staunch point from my lovely assistant and a covey rise of which dreams are made, my shotgun flew to my shoulder (it felt glorious). And like magic, there it was: my first quail.
But it’s not magic, it’s fit.
Thankfully for our readers who might be new to the uplands or have a bank account similar to my own, one properly fitted firearm is more valuable than a gun safe full of fine guns. Fit is unique, it’s personal. We are all beautifully shaped and molded differently, and likewise, our shotguns will be the same.
Whether it’s a custom-made stock or you won the lottery and found your boot "sole-mate" on the first try, putting the time in on the front end will make the difference later on.
Neck length, finger length, eye and hand dominance: There are many things to consider when you’re searching for “the one.”
Even better, there’s a community of people who are here to help. Retailers, mentors, clubs, and blogs help break down what you need to know to get the perfect fit. Once you find it, you’ll know, and it will change everything. And just like that favorite pair of shoes, you begin to trust that firearm, sinking into its comfort and familiarity when you put it on.
One day, you may retire that shotgun, but I would be willing to bet it has a spot in your cabinet, waiting for the next hunter in your family, for when they just begin to walk.
To learn more about gun fit, types of firearms, and more, be sure to check out our Path to the Uplands content series at www.quailforever.org/pathtotheuplands for all of your upland needs.
Marissa Jensen is PF & QF Education and Outreach Program Manager