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You have decided that the prime use of your new gun will be for clay shooting; and to maximize it’s versatility you are opting for a Multi Choke: Pause here a while; will you immediately select an Over & Under, or might you consider a Semi - Automatic as a possible option?
Many Clay Shots will not consider the Semi Auto. They can’t break it open to show that it is safe and are just not comfortable with the concept ( As I am not ). However suppressing my own bias for now; there are real advantages:
Price - Grade for grade, the Semi. is generally cheaper than it's O/U counterpart ( primarily there is only one barrel to produce ).
Recoil - If you are slightly built, or are just someone that is recoil sensitive; the Semi needs careful consideration because the gases from the fired cartridge are largely employed to eject the spent case and to cycle the next cartridge into the breech, rather than creating the pressure that is felt as recoil.
O.K. you have looked at the Semi. Option, but are set on getting your self an O/U. Obviously the next important decision is the cost. What is your absolute top end budget? You have already shopped around; you have wisely decided to stay with the main well known main brand names and you have a very clear idea of the price ranges. You will have heard this well worn maxim before, however buying the very best that you can afford; is sound advice.
Next decision; where to buy? You have been busy browsing through the Websites and have spotted some very attractive deals: However might you prefer the comfort of the personal touch by buying from your known local Gun Dealer?
Having decided to buy locally, you have got to decide on barrel length. Yes fashion dictates, and currently longer barrels are in favour and there is no doubt that they are steadier and very pointable. Most important; you must choose a gun to suit your physical stature. A very short slightly built person would obviously struggle to be comfortable with a long barreled heavy gun.
Your reliable local dealer will arrange for you to try some guns in your selection range. It is of course very much in his interest to help you select the best buy for you. He ( or a professional Coach ) will help you with Gun Fit ; you will know which gun feels most comfortable to shoot with, but here are a couple of very useful Lay men’s fitting tips:-
Stock length; so, so , important: When you have the gun stock locked tightly into your cheek and shoulder, can you fit two to three fingers between the lower knuckle of the gripping thumb and the bridge of your nose? If you can’t, the stock is too short. If there is any gap, the stock is too long:
Comb Height; so often ignored: When the gun is mounted correctly; can you see the bead clearly ( and preferably a few inches of the Rib ) ? If you can’t the Comb is too low. If you can see too much Rim, it is too high.
Eureka ! You have your new gun ( well in actual fact your good reliable local Dealer encouraged you to invest in a quality second hand one ), well don’t dash to the next Olympics; but do get to your nearest practice venue and spend plenty of time shooting your new acquisition. ENJOY !