Stock Fit

Here is an easy to read description about how to adjust your stock for the best fit. This passed by on the Fullbore list append by Kazan Mohrs who in turn found it in Michael Ray’s Newsletter and thought he would pass it on.

Many of the recent submissions regarding cant and cheek placement suggest that some readers would like to know how to adjust a free rifle for both. There is a simple exercise I use for helping my shooters first find their correct butt plate (including cant) adjustment and then finding their correct cheek piece adjustment.

To find the correct buttplate adjustment for a shooter, first remove the cheekpiece from the rifle. The purpose of this is to ensure that the shooter keeps their head in a naturally erect position. With the cheekpiece on, it is possible for the shooter to tilt their head, resting on the cheekpiece like a pillow. With the cheekpiece off, any tilt of the head will be felt in the neck muscles. So, with the cheekpiece off the rifle, make adjustments to the buttplate assembly until the rear sight lines up directly in front of the eye. What you will find with most shooters is that the buttplate needs to go a whole lot lower than you thought, and a little bit of cant adjustment is often needed too. But once you get it correctly adjusted, the rear sight should line up in front of the eye so well that the cheekpiece almost seems unnecessary.

However, we of course know that the cheekpiece is very important for ensuring a consistent head placement, thus ensuring proper sight alignment. Having found the correct butt adjustment, the cheekpiece adjustment is found by putting the cheekpiece back on the rifle, and removing the rear sight. Then, using a target that has a single bull in the center of a very large sheet of blank paper, the shooter fires shots using only the front sight to aim. The cheekpiece is adjusted to move the aiming eye, and thus the point of impact of the shots, until the shots are hitting well inside the bull. (While doing the exercise, the shooter will often complain that the bull appears very fuzzy without the rear sight. This is a good opportunity to demonstrate the merits of using a larger front aperture.) Once the cheekpiece is adjusted so that the shooter can consistently hit black without a rear sight, you've found its proper place. Put the rear sight back on and you're all set. You've got a buttplate adjustment that keeps the head naturally erect, and a cheekpiece adjustment that guarantees consistent sight alignment.

A few notes on this exercise. First, the idea of adjusting the cheekpiece without the rear sight is an old one, certainly not my own. I last heard it from Frank Briggs when we hired him to coach the Air Force team. Next, hardware on the rifle may limit your ability to fully exploit this technique. Older free rifle buttplates only go down so far. To make them go down far enough for most shooters, you have to do serious modification to them. The alternative is to add riser blocks under the rear sight instead. With the post-1984 Anschutz buttplates that have a zillion screws and run up and down on a center post, you can unscrew the post from the flat plate and screw it back on a couple of holes lower. This enables you to adjust the butt elevation correctly for even the longest-necked shooters. A similar situation exists with the cheekpiece hardware. With the newest Anschutz and Walther (and I assume FWB) cheekpieces, you should be able to adjust them laterally enough to get the aiming eye in exactly the right spot. But with older cheekpieces that only adjust up and down, you may have to either move the metal plate under the wood to the right or the left (requires a drill for small adjustments and a Dremel for larger ones) or else sand-down or beef-up the area where the face makes contact. Since no one really wants to cut the wood on a $2000 rifle, I'm a big advocate of buying and extra set of the adjustable cheekpiece hardware ($50) and a 2x4 ($2) and making my own cheekpieces. One 2x4 allows you to try at least 16 different shapes of cheekpiece without ever touching your original stock.

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