“Shooting a shotgun that fits well is like wearing a great pair of stilettos,” says Elizabeth Lanier, a shotgun instructor based in Richmond, Virginia, and the founder of the group Girls Really Into Shooting—or GRITS, as they’re fondly called. “If it feels good, looks good, gives you some confidence, and even makes you feel a wee bit sassy, you are probably going to feel more comfortable and more confident shooting it.”
So what makes for a woman’s shotgun? It relates to the five points where the body touches the gun: shoulder against recoil pad, cheek against stock, trigger hand on grip, trigger finger on trigger blade, and left hand (for righties) on forend. When these contact points have the correct dimensions, the shotgun is comfortable to shoot, swings easily, has nominal recoil, and provides an unobstructed view down the barrel.
Of course, even a shotgun designed for a woman isn’t exactly one size fits all. When you’re trying out a gun, it’s important that the recoil pad rests comfortably in the “pocket” between the shoulder and chest, so it doesn’t jolt tender areas. The trigger blade should be easily reachable, and the forend slim enough to handily sit in the palm, as if you’re carrying a carton of eggs. When these elements all come together, the difference is nothing short of extraordinary and can go a long way toward leveling the playing field.
“Making guns more tailored to a woman’s needs and body configurations is a great start,” Lanier says. “I simply cannot express the pure joy and excitement women feel when they realize that they can actually shoot, and generally shoot quite well.”