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Custom Shotgun Fitting with Del Whitman

how to Jun 08, 2023
custom shotgun fitting

When you shoot a shotgun, your eye is the rear sight. To get your eye consistently in the right alignment, a properly fitted gun is essential. In a recent video, we visited with the Upland Gun Company about getting a custom-made shotgun. In today's video, we're getting a professional gun fitting with Del Whitman so we can get the dimensions for a custom 20/28ga side-by-side shotgun from Upland Gun Company. Del and Steve go in depth about the process of a gun fitting and why it's important. Spoiler alert: Steve is a tough client!  Share your gun-fitting experience with us on the TFL COMMUNITY! Let's go!

Why is shotgun fit so important?

  • When wing or clay shooting, you don't aim a shotgun; you point it. The difference between aiming and pointing is where you place your focus. On a rifle, you are focused on lining up your sights on what is usually a stationary target. On a shotgun, your eye is the sight, and your focus is on a moving target.
  • Since our eye is the sight and we are focused on the target, having your eye consistently hit the same place every time you mount is crucial. To accomplish this, you must have a gun that fits you well. 
  • If your shotgun doesn't fit you well, you will have to take extra time to get your eye in the right spot. In addition, you will have mounting issues, and overall, it won't be as enjoyable to shoot.

  • There is no such thing as one size fits all. When it comes to shotgun fit, there are many individual factors to consider for proper fit.


What is the Objective of a Gun Fitting?

  • Having a professional such as Del Whitman access you for gun fit gives you an expert analysis as to how your gun should fit you rather than trying to figure it out yourself and missing shots because of improper fit. The objective is to get a set of dimensions so that you know what is ideal for you. Armed with this information, you can make better purchase decisions whether you are getting a custom gun, a used shotgun, or a standard factory shotgun off the shelf. 

  • Our objective today is to get Steve's measurements so that Upland Gun Company can build his custom side-by-side shotgun!

What is the Process?

  • Del's process is incredibly thorough and insightful. The whole process can take 1-2 hours. Steve was a tough customer, so it took closer to the 2-hour mark.
  • The first thing that Del did was give a brief educational talk and walk-through to set the parameters of how the fitting would go. He went over the basics of what we need to do as a standard to get a universally accurate fitting. This included proper mount technique and footwork.
  • These shooting fundamentals were important as the process would take place back and forth between his gun vice and the shooting plate. 
  • Once these standards are set, the duration of the fitting goes a little something like this: Steve steps up to the plate and shoots a series of targets at a white target board with circles. He uses a special gun called a try-gun that Del custom-built. He is able to adjust every dimension of the gun throughout the fitting to have it perfectly dialed in eventually. Once completed, he will record the measurements. Del watches Steve shoot one of the three circles three times while analyzing his mount and the shot point of impact. After a series of shots, Del will make an adjustment and have Steve repeat the shooting until the fit and point of impact are ideal.
  • The whole thing is an educated trial and error process to see where the gun best aligns with Steve's eye. Sometimes, there are adjustments that Del makes silently to witness how Steve reacts to them while shooting. His expertise is in full swing during these fittings.

How did Steve's Fitting Go?

  • A huge part of getting the gun fitting to be accurate is by employing a lot of mental energy into mounting according to Del's standards so that the person being fitted doesn't fake it and fit their body to the gun as so many people do. Del is very good at knowing how to facilitate this to achieve the best results. However, Steve shoots shotguns for a living as he has shot about 60 different shotguns in the past six months with no adjustments to them. In Del's words: "He's trained himself to be a professional chameleon!" 
  • This put a little bit of an extra challenge into the fitting as Steve was highly resistant to changes in stock detentions.
  • After many series, Del eventually got it dialed in.


  • Every individual is unique when it comes to gun fit. The combination of our facial structure, the distance between our eye and our shoulder pocket, the with of our shoulders, the size of our chest, and other factors all come into play to create a unique combination.
  • Steve has never shot a shotgun with a proper fit. We'll review the custom-fit shotgun when it arrives and give you our honest feedback.


Even if you're not getting a custom-built shotgun, we recommend getting a gun fitting at some point in your life. It's a fun and educational experience, but most importantly, it can be a game changer for your success in the field or on the range. You're guaranteed to have more success as long as you are TARGET FOCUSED!

Whether our targets in the field or our targets in life, we will only hit what we are focused on, so live the #targetfocusedlife

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