Introducing a New Shooter Post 3: Short Faces


Youth gun fitting is seldom looked at. You just have to MAKE it work. Buying a 243 or a 6mm or a 20 popper is one thing. Buying a whole new set of guns, all with youth stocks and low profile scope rings is another.

So, many of us make do. Well, helping your new youth shooter be more accurate and more confident in their shots is as simple as buying a washrag and some good tape.

Once you get your gun/guns picked out and scoped, take a look at a cheek pad/raised comb. Or make one.

When you have your little buddy (and many women) look through the scope, you will find their faces are a WHOLE lot shorter than ours. What this does, is for him/her to look through the scope......even with short rings.......their CHEWING TEETH are resting on the stock's comb. NOT their cheek bone. This RATTLES their cage even more than the 'shot' to the shoulder.

Making their cheek comfortable, and making the gun actually FIT them makes a HUGE difference in them enjoying the range time.

They HAVE to move their head to see through the scope, EVEN if it takes their cheek off the gun (which it will on all adult setups.). They don't know this uncomfortable.....stock to the teeth not normal. You have to notice it and help fix it. You saying: "Get your cheek down on the stock....." means they can't see through the scope. I have seen it over and over on the range. Follow these directions, then when the teacher looks downrange at the target, the new shooter raises their head off the stock in an attempt to see through the scope. This instability kills accuracy. And its a cage rattler for recoil of a larger gun. It creates fliching that we tend to just think is shoulder impact.

I will say, our youth Remington 700 has a raised comb on the stock that compensates for this. A lot of the other guns do not. Its something to look at when making a purchase.

If you have to shoot the gun at some point, you can mash down the wash cloth with your face to make the shot. You can make it work, because you know what is happening.

It takes four hands or a vice to place the folded washcloth and tape it down good. Gorilla Tape works great for this in black if you are matching a synthetic stock, or they have camo too. Electrical tape, since it gives so well, works in a pinch but really does not look well at all.

We have a wash cloth on our scoped .22, just so it fits short faces to where his CHEEK BONE is on the stock, not at the clinched teeth spot. Its all about similar practice and feel.

On the .223, we have a slip on cheek pad that takes adjustable pads. Its really a pain in the butt, because the pads try to slip out constantly. You can also slip a washcloth under one of those stretch on stock shell holders too, but its really not comfortable and the washcloth can still move then too.

Keep in mind questions like: "can you see through the scope?" Is a close-ended yes/no question that they can tell you want them to say yes to. Set the gun up in a good bench/sandbag, and ask them to count bullet holes in a 20 yard target back to you for example.

I learned this manning a spotting scope station at Eagle Days for a few years. The parents walk up, they look through the scope first, and as they lift Junior up, SOMEone involved kicks the tripod. 43 pound Junior is being choked by Mom as he is being held in place 18 inches off the ground (because remember.....the parents HAVE to look first right?! So kid height on the scope is not what we are after surely..... the scopes on the picnic table are not as big.....and we all want to look through the big one....) Excitedly grunting, Mom asks: "Do you see the eagle?!" Junior responds: "Yep." And that's that. Back to the ground you go.

Hand the same Junior Junior my binoculars to have another look, and the kiddo goes NUTS.

So I started learning to ask the kids: "I have not looked through there in a while! What is he doing. How many is there in the tree now?!" That way we MADE SURE the new American professional bird watcher was getting the true rush they came for, not what their parents figured they saw when the tripod got bumped.

Sorry.....back to rifle scopes..... (Eagle Days are awesome experiences if you have never been to one!)

Ask the question with your hands out in a circle: "do you see the black donut around the crosshairs?" They will more than likely say yes if they just jumped behind the gun, because they won't know to GET IN the gun to get proper eye relief until you teach them. Then you get to say, "well, keep moving your head forward until you see the black donut disapper and all you see is the scope showing you everything close-up except for a TINY edge of black". "If you get too close, the donut will show back up again. Keep getting closer so you know what that looks like too."

Now......if you are using a $20 1984 Simmons or Tasco scope, we all know that the black donut never really goes away. If you want them to be successful, find a used scope that was $150-$200 for now $100 so they can see what they are shooting at. ;)

Post #4 will be on red dot scopes (infinity eye relief) and shotgun mounts, especilly for turkeys. Thank you for introducing someone to shooting and the outdoors, and not only that, but doing some prep work to see that they have the best chance of enjoying it.

#5 will probably be more details about preparing for the shot and handling the gun. ;)