Five top tips for optimal gun fit with Master Gunstock Maker Gareth Rule

The importance of a good gun fit is often overlooked at the point of purchase. A good fitting gun will improve overall shooting consistency and increase the user’s confidence in the field. Director and Master Gunstock Maker Gareth Rule of A.W. Rule and Son Gunmakers in Somerton explains the five key elements of the perfect gunfit that can lead to a successful shooting season.

Mr Stephen Hoyle using the try gun with his previous measurements


The correct position of the gun after using the ‘try gun’
  1. Adhering to tradition

Looking back in time, our forefathers would have had their guns made for them by specialists in the field, such as Mr Gareth Rule’s father and founder of A.W.Rule and Son Gunmakers, Anthony William Rule. Today, the modern gun is often sold “off the shelf” and is purchased by name and bore, rather than by the correct fitment. Rather than “making do”, A.W.Rule & Son Gun Makers believe that observing the history of stock fit is one of the key parts of a successful shooting experience. As a sport that is layered with antiquity it is important to remember that, although technology has moved on, the history of stockfit has ensured that generations of shots continue the best practice of the sport long into the future.


  1. Getting to know the client

At the start of the gunfit process, Mr Rule begins with an informal chat with the client, finding out about the issues that they are experiencing, gaining a true picture of the work that will need to be undertaken. The existing gun is discussed, taking into consideration it’s make and style and whether that it is in fine condition to warrant any alteration.


  1. Observation of technique

Mr Rule then asks the client to show him his technique with his own gun, often with guidance to the client’s stance and weight distribution which aids a smoother motion of mount to the shoulder and face position on the stock of the gun. Taking time to witness the client’s good and bad points, Mr Rule begins to achieve in his mind the alterations that the client gun will need to ensure that perfect fit.


  1. Measuring the length, drop and cast with the “Try Gun”

The next stage is the use of the “Try Gun” – a shotgun that has a fully adjustable stock that allows the measurements to be set for the three main elements of gun fit: length, drop & cast. A.W.Rule & Son Gun Makers Ltd has several try guns, side by side, over & under and an adjustable cross over gun which is truly unique.

Mr Rule begins by asking the client their height, taking into consideration their build and any other restrictions they may have in their shooting ability. The client is asked about their vision and whether they shoot with glasses or corrective lenses and a quick test to check eye dominance is done. Find out how Mr Rule helped one client rediscover his love of the sport with the help of a good gun fit here.

Mr Rule then, from years of experience, begins to set the try gun to the approximate measurements that he feels are beneficial starting with the overall stock length. The length of the stock is critical, it’s the datum point of the fitting process. A gun that is too short will not sit in the same place twice and will give great discomfort when firing due to recoil. Alternatively, a stock that is too long will not seat correctly in the pocket of the shoulder, more than likely catching or dragging as the gun is mounted and can cause excessive bruising to the outer part of the shoulder and even in extreme cases to the bicep area. The shoulder should not rotate forward if the gun is at the correct length and the motion of the gun to shoulder should be a smooth and fluid process. Mr Rule also checks for the correct head position to comb length and position of the client’s hand. A gun that is too short often makes the client appear to be hunched over the action with no consistency in their mount.

The try gun is then set for drop or bend. This is the amount of face support the stock gives the client and the high position in the shoulder itself. Too much drop and the client will not be able to see over the top lever, resulting in the head being lifted from the stock whilst shooting to see the target, too higher drop and the shooter will see too much rib affecting the point of aim.

Mr Rule believes in the two thirds rule, the point where the stock supports the user, locking into position supporting the cheek bone and sitting snugly onto the jawbone with the uses eye two thirds over the rib. The user should see the rib in their peripheral vision with the point of aim being at the target.

Mr Rule takes plenty of time ensuring that this measurement, with the length now set correctly is exactly as both he and his client want it to be.

Lastly, the element of cast is considered. This is solely dependent on the client`s eye dominance, if any. The try gun is then altered to either cast off – right shoulder or cast on for the left accordingly. The amount of cast required is constantly tweaked until Mr Rule is satisfied that the point of aim is now directly at him as he views the gun from the muzzle end at some distance away.

The client is then asked to mount the gun many times until his or her mount begins to become more fluid, sometimes Mr Rule explains, feeling most strange as the client his not used to a correctly fitting shotgun stock.

As a test, the client’s original gun is then offered during this mounting process and the results of the correct fitment are more often than not surprising to the client as the benefit of the correct fit verses their gun that they are used to are overwhelmingly different.


  1. Alterations and regular servicing post-gunfit

Mr Rule then discusses with the client the process of the alterations, and how these will be achieved. The decision of the client is final and sometimes the decision to replace the stock with a bespoke handmade stock is the preferred option. After a successful gun fit, it is recommended to regularly service and maintain your gun. A.W.Rule & Son Gun Makers Ltd offer a full in house shotgun repair service including shotgun barrel alterations, new firing pins, mainsprings, general gunsmithing and full Bespoke gun making. Find out more about our servicing options here.


The importance of a good gunfit cannot be overstated – for many, the time-honoured tradition is a life-changing experience that will forever shape the future of a shooter. Every gun owner should invest in a quality gunfit with a dedicated specialist with years of experience. Contact Mr Rule at A.W.Rule and Son Gunmakers to arrange your bespoke experience: call 01458 270024 or email [email protected]