Towards the end of last year I found myself tangled up with problems surrounding my neck and jaw and the diagnosis suggested it was most likely to have been a direct result of recoil. Contrary to my family and non-shooting friend’s flippant comments of “well you might just have to
stop doing it”, I wasn’t about to consider throwing away my career in competitive International shooting without doing some finely tuned research to try and remedy the problem.
To this day I’m not sure how my neurologist actually felt the first time I met him. I entered his office brandishing a Beretta case, ready and willing to put my shotgun together and begin explaining why it would be out of the question for me to even consider giving up the sport I love so much! As I demonstrated the points of contact with recoil, I remember his very timid and concerned nurse taking notes and turning a whiter shade of pale – not able to believe what she was witnessing. The consultant on the other hand was quite intrigued with the possible cause to my pain issues and assured me I was in fact the first person to have ever brought a gun with them to see him and that he was pretty glad I had!
The experience got me thinking of how many others have gone through similar to me and whether we take the whole topic of recoil and the long term effect on our wellbeing very seriously. One reoccurring medical problem with shooters is problems in the shoulder area. A rather large article appeared in the Clay Shooting USA magazine reporting on many interviewed cases of recoil induced ‘rotary cuff surgery episodes’. This is an incapacitating problem in the shoulder, directly linked with shooting sports. We are also constantly hearing and seeing for ourselves more psychological matters in the form of flinching and extreme cases of debilitating ‘trigger freeze’, all directly, in some way or another, related to recoil.
Following on from my research in to causes and afflictions linked with recoil and shooting sports, I was of course eager to find a positive set of options to encourage me that I could continue in the sport I love so passionately. And, with some help and advice from the consultant following his test results, my most obvious train of thought turned to the advertised recoil reducers and also contacting Eley for a lighter cartridge load option. There is, in my opinion, nothing a good quality 24g cartridge won’t break vehemently if put head to
head against any 28g loaded cartridge. Finding a good recoil reducing system however, involved a fair bit more of my time and effort of scouring the net and talking to shooting friends to see what the options were. I have to say there are, once you narrow them down, some pretty good user-recommended additions to shotguns to minimise the potentially harmful effects of recoil. As a female shooter I was very much in favour of an American system I was told about, more so because it had been designed to allow for a more individual fit. This system accommodated my more curvy build around the shoulder area because of an incorporated manoeuvrable butt plate, giving me a near perfect fit to my individual measurements – making my gun mount much more secure and effective. When I first went out to try the system on a different gun, I have to admit I was pretty blown away, metaphorically speaking, and there was absolutely no recoil noticeable what so ever.
I know that a great many of you who are reading this will be saying to yourselves, “I don’t need to look at such matters of recoil because I don’t suffer from its effects.” Well that’s the point I would like to push home on this occasion – do we need it from the start or do we need it when the problem of recoil damage has taken hold? I am a classic example of that very dilemma! I had no issues surrounding recoil that I was aware of, but I do have them now after continued shooting through my life. With the new recoil system I am most certainly less tired after shooting and the symptoms I was feeling post-shooting, sometimes for some days, have subsided. I could even say that my shooting from a technical point of view has improved too, my physical and mental recovery from my first shot to my second shot is very noticeable – the gun has not moved at all and is still snug and in the same place in my shoulder and face, making me much more in control for the second shot and in turn the second shot.
My question for you all to ponder is, if you had the choice to avoid problems before they began in your chosen sport, would you pay the extra and use the available insurance in the form of a recoil reducer? Sadly and quite blatantly, no research has ever been done within the sport over past years to evaluate the long term effects of those exposed to regular shotgun recoil. Is it a good time now, in a world very much geared toward prevention of health problems, to begin looking more closely at recoil issues before they possibly effect our health? Could we even look at the possibility of all our shotgun manufacturers fitting recoil reducing systems as standard to new guns? I would be very interested in your views, especially as in the past this topic has always raised so many comments. Email me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me c/o Blaze Publishing to the address at the front of the magazine.