Thursday, October 2, 2014

Lively Game Guns and Stupidity

Nothing about shotgunning makes any damn sense at all, when you think about it. I mean, hitting an object with a shotgun is not voodoo, nor is it some mysterious alchemy. It should be a simple matter of physics, right? Right? So why the hell isn't it?

This is an Edwards recoil reducer. They've been made since the mid-Sixties, and are still fairly popular among shooters. This particular specimen was pulled out of the buttstock of my 1968-vintage Beretta BL-5 last year. Why? Because I'm an idiot, that's why. You can read about it here. 

And now this ugly slug of metal is messing with my head.

Here's the background: that 12-bore BL-5 was (past tense) my "lucky" gun. I shot it well, really well, and I don't shoot much of anything well. But it was a tad heavy in the butt, and didn't conform to my notions (or more accurately, the notions of others that I've read and then adopted as my own, because I'm a lemming) of how a game gun should feel. It wasn't what I considered "lively" (Lively? Now there's an overused gun writer's term. What the hell am I supposed to do with a "lively" gun? Dance with it?).

So toward the end of the 2013 quail season, after I had been shooting the gun really well, I took off the recoil pad and extracted that recoil reducer. Suddenly my gun was 12 ounces lighter, and (finally!) "lively." My plan was to tear the gun down, refinish the stock myself, get a set of 28-inch barrels I had bought on Gunbroker fitted to the action, and put it all back together. But the gun felt so good in the hand without that added weight, and swung so well (at least in the garage), that I just had to close out the season with it.

For the next seven days until the end of the season I went quail hunting almost every day, and missed virtually every quail I shot at. Almost every single one. That's not an exaggeration. But boy did it feel good in the hand, like a wand, really,you know..."lively."

I was frustrated. So much so that I put the gun away, afraid to follow through with any of my grand restoration plans. And I kept that recoil reducer, just in case. I didn't shoot the gun much at all last year, nor any clays with it this summer, but last month I drug it out and shot it on one dove hunt, and shot it well. But dove are not quail, and all the while there was a nagging little voice in my head telling me I'd screwed up, that I'd tinkered with something I shouldn't have tinkered with, and that I needed to make it right before quail season started.

I was warned. Both Uplandish and Phillip said I shouldn't do it, that mojo is a sensitive thing. Pshaw! I thought. Mojo? Shotgunning is a science, not some superstition-larded dark art.

Well, guess what I'm doing this weekend? It involves sticking a piece of metal back in its rightful place. Call it superstition, mojo, or the rational, empirically-based theory that perhaps the added weight helps smooth out my swing. Whatever. All I know is that from this fool there will be no more gibberish talk of lively game guns, and there will be no more screwing up of the mojo.



  1. Shotgunning is dark art, not science, and I cite Charley Waterman, who referenced a champion clay bird shooter who never put his head down on the stock as proof. Shoot it some this season and, if things aren't going well, put the mojo reducer back in. Heck, I shoot a Citori that, at 8 1/2 pounds with 26 inch barrels, is anything but lively best most of the time. You're just manly enough to handle the extra weight and throw it around like a wand, that's all.

  2. Yep, lot's of Terry Weiland articles and others about how what are supposed to be the perfect gun - aren't. Since we all have such different physics going on, only you can tell what feels and shoots right and it sounds like you figured it out.

  3. Whatever else, Chad, you probably aren't an "idiot". An idiot would not have picked up the subtle message that old Beretta was putting down. An idiot would have ignored the reality, tossed that old Edwards recoil reducer in the garbage, and continued to fight with that shotgun to get it back to its original, magical self.

    No, Chad... you recognized (belatedly, yes, but eventually) the error of your ways. You've accepted what you once rejected, and you're putting it right. Your shotgun will thank you. Your mojo will thank you.

    And I'll thank you... because it is very rare that I get to be the one saying, "see? I told you so!"

  4. To paraphrase an old TV commercial, "It's not nice to piss off the shotgun Gods."

  5. The funny thing is, I have several other guns that really are light and "lively" that I shoot pretty well, so the concept itself isn't invalid. It's just me and this one particular gun. In fact, I'm still hoping for a sub-7lb, 30-inch-barreled English 12-bore SXS one of these days, but for whatever reason this particular gun didn't respond kindly to my notions, or my meddling.

  6. As Mike says, a dark art. I have shot impossible guns well and perfect ones badly. Only thing I have finally learned at 64 is not to get rid of ones that work.

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    1. Surgical games are much more fun and valuable when you're working with an actual breathing circulatory system (although I've never met a breathing circulatory system, I understand that they can be exciting things on which to perform surgery). It's even better, performing these surgical procedures on avid gamers, particularly when using the proper system devices. But best of all, perhaps, is performing surgical procedure games on living, breathing spammers. No anesthesia needed. Just break out your devices and start clicking.

  8. Chad, just found your post. If you have yet to return the reducer to it's rightful place, send it to the factory for a tune-up. Ever since my grandfather invented them, we have guaranteed them for life, but the older ones (made before 1991) need to be reconditioned once in a while. Once we send it back, it will be serviceable for many years to come.