I love shooting. I hate recoil.

Call me a wimp. Call me a wussy. Call me anything you like, but it won’t change the fact I don’t enjoy getting beat up when I’m shooting.

The results of recoil from a single, moderate shooting session are annoying and perhaps slightly painful. But where it will really get you is over the course of an avid shooting career. The negative effects of absorbing shotgun recoil for decades can result in serious ailments such as arthritis and even detached retinas.

FP951_PrairieStorm_300x250It’s safe to say more first-timers are permanently put off shooting by excessive “kick” than any other factor. Those of us who stuck it out are smart to take every opportunity to minimize recoil for the sake of both our health and our technique. Bad shooting habits are unavoidable when you’re subconsciously anticipating a punch in the shoulder every time you pull the trigger. If you’re thinking about recoil, you’re not thinking about breaking the next target.

There are many ways to reduce recoil that can be used in combination where appropriate. Shoot the lightest reasonable loads. Go to a smaller gauge. Use a gas-operated semiauto. Acquire a gun with a recoil-reduction system built into it. Shoot a heavier gun. Add recoil pads. Have the gun custom-fit to your build and shooting needs. This list goes on.

But the easiest step is to simply place a good pad between your shoulder and the buttstock of the gun you’re shooting. The problem with those pads has always been that they increase the length of pull, unless you have the stock shortened to accommodate. It’s a hassle and an expense.

Well, I’m now a proud believer in a new recoil pad called the ShockEater. It’s just eight millimeters thick and weighs only 1.4 ounces—that’s less than a 12 gauge hunting shell. The ShockEater fits easily into the pad pocket on your favorite shooting vest or hunting jacket. You can even use double stick tape if you want to try it out on your t-shirt. Any way you use it, the pad is so thin it does not appreciably change length of pull.

All I can say is it flat-out works! And it’s not the placebo effect, because I honestly didn’t believe there was any way this tiny pad could substantially reduce recoil.

campchef abmShockEater is made in the USA. At rest, the filling of the pad feels like it has the consistency of thick Silly Putty. It almost seems to “flow” when squeezed between your fingers. That’s what you can tell about the pad from the outside. What allegedly happens when the material is stressed under recoil impact is the molecules stiffen, locking together to form a more solid state that maximizes protection and minimizes transmission of the shock. After compression it returns to the softer, more fluid state. I guess you’d have to watch it all happen under a microscope to really tell what’s going on, but however it happens you will feel the result at your shoulder on the first shot and every shot thereafter.

Jack Portuesi is just getting ShockEater rolling under his Gamp Sports brand, but the response has been overwhelming everywhere he’s shown the product. Just a few weeks ago, Jack went to his first Grand American Trap Shoot. The inventory he had made and taken with him was intended to last through the entire 11-day event. He went home after two days because he had sold out!

On the ShockEater.com website is this testimonial from Shotgun Sports Magazine editor-in-chief Johny Cantu:

I was testing a client’s gun and had to have the stock cut a bit shorter leaving me with a wooden butt end of the stock with no pad. I could not remount the original pad as this would have still left the LOP too long for me. So, I slipped the ShockEater Recoil Pad into a shooting vest and went to the range with the expectation my shoulder would not be in very good shape afterward. Boy! Was I ever wrong! The ShockEater pad worked wonderfully, saving my bicep and shoulder from the potential ravages of a raw, freshly-cut butt end of a 12 gauge over/under shotgun and some hard-hitting sporting clays loads.

Both for the range and the hunting field, the ShockEater pad is now part of my regular shooting kit. I can’t foresee a time when I’m carrying a shotgun I won’t be wearing one. I’ll still be shooting the lightest reasonable loads and taking all of the other applicable precautions, but the ShockEater will be the foundation of my recoil-reduction plan.

Whenever I take a new shooter to the range, the first thing we’ll do after determining eye dominance is tape a ShockEater to his or her shirt or jacket! They’ll thank me now, and they’ll thank me years into a long, happy and healthy shooting career!

thermacell_logo_squarelow 150Tip of the Week

Put together a clay target shooting kit in a range bag. Keep everything you need for clays shooting in one place, ready to go. Eye and ear protection, recoil pad, shell bag, vest, gun cleaning kit, choke tool, lens cleaning kit, and of course a ThermaCELL and refills. Dedicate this gear to clay target shooting, and you’re sure to always have it when you need it!
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Image courtesy Bill Miller

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One thought on “Recoil Sucks! So Suck Up the Recoil

  1. The EASIEST way to reduce recoil is proper technique and stock fit. Pulling the butt of the gun firmly into the pocket of the shoulder with a proper cheek weld to the stock will do much to reduce unnecessary felt recoil.

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