Here's what you need to know to convert an old 20 Ga. to fit the women and young people who want to get started in the sport.
By Dave Bennetts
Whether you own a shop or work on the side, just about everyone’s
had someone come in to say that their first experience with their son, daughter
or wife/girlfriend ended badly because they had a poor experience. Having owned
a shop myself for many years, I put together some of the things I told my
customers when they came to me. So, picture yourself walking into my shop ...
“So your son or daughter wants to start shooting clay targets or
go hunting!” What should you do for a shotgun for them? Well, granddad
left that old shotgun he had, so why not let them shoot it?
with, the shotgun probably is way too big and heavy for them to shoot
comfortably, unless of course, it was fit for you when you were young. Probably
not, because gun fit was not addressed much in our generation, they just handed
us a shotgun and let us shoot away.
In order to fit a youngster, you
are usually looking at cutting the gunstock to proper length. But, before you
do, you may want to see if there is a replacement stock available so you will
be able to lengthen it at a later date after they grow and need a longer stock.
Due to the demise of some of the older replacement stock companies, the
availability of replacement stocks is not as good as it once was, especially
for some of the older firearms, so check before you cut down the stock on the
If you decide to purchase a new shotgun, you will be faced
with a choice of wood or synthetic stocks.
next to impossible to do any modifications to, including simply changing a
recoil pad. The design of the stocks does not allow you to cut them down like
you can with a wood
. So our recommendation is for a wood stock. There are several
manufacturers making stocks you can buy later to bring back to original length,
plus there are some making youth size shotgun stocks to mount the gun on now
and are a good choice. Just be sure to figure out how to cover the eventual
So now we have a shotgun, how do we make it fit? The
first thing we need to address is the length of pull. This can be determined
using the Brownells drop and
. Once this is determined, the stock must be cut to length.
At this point you may want to consider the single, most important
factor in reducing felt recoil, a good recoil pad! The proper recoil pad can
reduce the shock of recoil as much as 25%. Look at the offerings by
, and others,
but make sure it can be ground small enough to fit the junior size stock! You
will also be limited as to the length of pull reduction on most semi-auto
shotguns because the action tube is contained in the stock.
stock is cut and fitting them well, but they cannot handle all that barrel
hanging out in front. Now what? The best solution here is to cut back the
barrel to a reasonable length and install
screw in chokes
a barrel length of 21 of 22 inches is about right.
With the barrel now
cut down, and the balance improved, we now need to look at other things we can
do to reduce the recoil and make their shooting experience enjoyable. Barrel
porting is a good option. This will really reduce muzzle jump, which reduces
the amount of felt recoil to the cheek. This is a common complaint of young
shooters. You also might consider a
stock which can make a substantial difference in recoil at the shoulder.
Another item to look at is ammunition. Have them shoot the lightest
load available. This one factor alone will have more impact on recoil than any
other single item you can do to their shotgun.
Which ever method or
combination of methods you choose, be sure to make their shooting experience as
fun and comfortable as possible for them. After all it is your son or daughter
or grandkids that are the future in the shooting sports. After seeing the
quality young shooters at the
ATA Grand American
August, our future looks very bright! We just need to have lots more kids learn
just how much fun the shooting sports really are!