Minnesota Hunter Safety Course


Selecting the Right Firearm

It is unrealistic to hand a person a random firearm and expect them to be able to place an accurate shot. A firearm is a tool, and like any other tool it needs to properly fit the person who uses it. When selecting a firearm, all of these factors come into play:

  • Caliber and/or Gauge
  • The weight of the firearm
  • Its overall size
  • The length of the stock

Most rifle and shotguns are designed for the average-sized male. There are, however, youth models available for beginning young hunters. These are generally shorter firearms with an appropriate gauge or caliber for the younger hunter, such as a 20 gauge or .243 Caliber. Talk to your parents or guardian about getting a properly-fitting firearm that suits your needs.

Stock Too Short

Stock Correct Length

Stock Too Long

If you are unsure whether a firearm fits you properly, consult a knowledgeable gunsmith or qualified shooting coach. Follow these steps:

Place the butt of the firearm in the bend of your shooting arm elbow and try to reach the trigger with your index finger. If your finger cannot wrap around the trigger, the firearm's stock is too long and the firearm will feel awkward when shooting it. If your arm is too long, then the stock needs to be lengthened.

Place the butt of the firearm firmly against your shoulder and place your cheek against the stock. Make sure your head is straight, and your dominant eye lines up with the sights. If your head is tilted while you aim, you will have poor shot placement. Adjusting the height of the comb on the firearm should help fix this problem.

IMPORTANT! A properly fitted firearm will be more comfortable to the shooter and will allow for greater accuracy. Thus, a safer situation when shooting.